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The House Ethics Committee is a corruption-enabling cesspool

By Michelle Malkin  •  March 10, 2010 09:59 AM

You know it. I know it. And everyone disgusted with the culture of corruption in Washington needs to make their voices heard on it. The watchdogs are crippled. CYA is the order of the day. The Beltway has changed nothing since the GOP scandals and is still acting blind, deaf, and dumb toward the Democrat scandals.

USA Today weighs in on the pathetic, corruption-enabling cesspool known as the House Ethics Committee:

What does it take for a member of Congress to get in real trouble with the House ethics committee?

Quite a lot.

In fact, only one lawmaker — Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. — has merited even a wrist slap since Democrats were swept into the majority in 2007 on a wave of voter revulsion to scandals engulfing Republicans in Congress. Back then, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through more stringent rules, vowed stricter enforcement and famously promised to “drain the swamp.”

Well, she’s going to need a bigger pump.

So far, the supposedly invigorated bipartisan House ethics committee has:

— Handed down its limpest discipline, an “admonishment,” after finding that Rangel had taken two free trips to Caribbean conferences even though he should have known that big corporations indirectly financed them in violation of House rules.

The committee has yet to finish reviewing Rangel’s more serious ethical problems, such as glaring omissions on his congressional financial disclosure statements. (Pending the outcome, Rangel has taken a “leave of absence” from his powerful post as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.)

— Exonerated five others who took the same trips as Rangel. The committee bought their stories that they didn’t know about corporate sponsorship. Funny, conference photos show lawmakers standing in front of a bunch of corporate logos. Maybe they were blinded by the Caribbean sun.

— Essentially gave lawmakers a go-ahead to solicit campaign donations from business executives and lobbyists who apparently believe they’re paying for federal contracts. Last month, the committee cleared seven members despite the findings by an independent investigative panel that two of them — Reps. Peter Visclosky, D-Ind., and Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan. — might have tacitly tied requests for campaign donations to legislative earmarks profiting specific companies.

As I pointed out last week, the ethics committee steamrolled the OCE in the Pete Stark case.

USAT adds:

The Democrats like to point out that they created an independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate allegations, recommend action to the ethics committee and issue public reports. But they promptly emasculated their new creation by failing to give it subpoena power and ignoring its findings in several cases, despite evidence that members violated House rules.

No teeth, no reform. No reform, no change. The swamp overfloweth.

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Categories: Corruption, Democrats, Hillary Clinton