Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Congress and Corruption: Practicing What They Preach?
In the aftermath of the debt ceiling fiasco, Congress’ reputation took another blow in the court of public opinion. Even before the debt ceiling brinkmanship, Congress’ record on ethics was getting trampled through the mud yet again.
Washington is a city filled with double standards and perhaps there is no better one when you compare the new and aggressive enforcement policies which have been launched against American business while at the same time Congress cannot even get its house in order.
It was only five years ago that then Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated “You must drain the swamp if you going to govern for the people.” Unfortunately, Pelosi’s record only filled the swamp more than it was before. No one thought Congress could go any lower but here is the landscape right now.
The House Ethics Committee is busy investigating itself over misconduct allegations relating to the case against Rep. Maxine Waters, which resulted in the suspension of two staff attorneys and allegations of partisan infighting and violation of basic committee rules. Now, they have had to hire outside counsel to investigate themselves.
In the other chamber, the Senate Ethics Committee has been inactive on any serious ethical issues and recently issued a lengthy report against Sen. Ensign, who decided not to seek re-election. A Special Prosecutor was responsible for the report which was issued after Sen. Ensign announced his resignation. Still, the Justice Department declined to prosecute, as it adheres to its gun-shy standards for declining cases, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Lets face it – there is no tone-at-top in the Senate or the House, no commitment to ethical compliance and no allocation of resources needed to “drain the swamp.”. Indeed, Rep. Mel Watt introduced legislation to slowly strangle the Office of Congressional Ethics, a separate investigative body which can refer matters for further investigation – it initiated the investigation against Rep. Maxine Waters. Rep. Watt was the focus of an OCE investigation and obviously did not like anyone looking into his behavior.
It is interesting to see how Congress derides the business community for its unethical behavior when its record clearly shows that Congress is nothing more than the pot calling the kettle black.