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Shameless: House Republicans Gut Ethics Enforcement Behind Closed Doors

Adam Lioz

What to do when the leader of your party faces unprecedented ethics challenges, including being in violation of the Constitution’s prohibition on payments from foreigners the day he becomes President? 

If you’re House Republicans, you gut the independent entity that’s supposed to keep your own house clean—the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). And, for good measure you do it in a closed-door party meeting with no public notice.

One former lawyer at the OCE told the New York Times

“This is huge,” said Bryson Morgan, who now defends lawmakers targeted in ethics investigations. “It effectively allows the committee to shut down any independent investigation into member misconduct. Historically, the ethics committee has failed to investigate member misconduct.” 

Is this Republicans’ idea of “draining the swamp” in Washington? And, is it a preview of what we can expect with unified Republican control of Congress and the White House?

Today, Demos joined 34 organizations in signing a letter to Speaker Ryan opposing the measure, stating: "The Goodlatte proposal will serve as an open invitation to Members to violate the House ethics rules without concern that they will be held accountable for their improper conduct."

The full house will vote to day to implement these rules, with no chance at amendments. Can members muster the courage to reject this shameless power grab?

Update: House Republicans bowed to public pressure against their shameless backdoor attempt to gut ethics enforcement.  Transparency works.  Now Donald Trump should follow suit by releasing his tax returns and selling his business so the public doesn’t have to constantly worry about him making decisions as President to benefit his bottom line.