Monday, January 2, 2017, 10:52pm

House Republicans vote to weaken Office of Congressional Ethics

Edit 1/3/17: The House GOP reversed course this morning and removed the Goodlatte amendment from the new rules package, in large part due to the House switchboard being flooded with calls. Today, we win!

Monday night (1/2/17) the House Republicans voted to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and eliminate its independence.

The OCE was established by the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2008 in response to the Abramoff lobbying scandal. It’s “an independent, non-partisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against members of the House of Representatives and their staff and, when appropriate, referring matters to the United States House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly referred to as the Ethics Committee.” (Wikipedia)

As it stands, if your boss is a representative, and you think he or she is up to something shady, you can make an anonymous report to the OCE, which is then able to A) tell Congress, B) tell the public, and C) refer the matter to either the House Ethics Committee, or the police or DoJ, or wherever they feel it should be referred to.

Under the new rules, you can’t make an anonymous complaint about that hypothetical boss anymore, leaving you open to retaliation if you do report their shadiness. Plus, once you make your report, the OCE can’t tell the public – they can only tell Congress. Y’know. The guys you’re telling on. And, to cap things off, the OCE can’t report the shady activities to law enforcement anymore. They can only tell the House Ethics Committee, which is run by the folks you just tattled on.

(FYI, I stole this example wholesale from this guy, because it was a pretty damn good explanation.)

Tuesday morning (1/3/17) the House will vote to adopt this new rules package, so drop what you’re doing and call your representatives right now.

  • Find your representatives and their contact information right here:
  • Call and politely tell them, “I would like to let Representative [your rep’s name here] know that I do not support the Goodlatte (pronounced “good-laht”) amendment and want the Office of Congressional Ethics to remain a non-partisan, independent entity that is able to watchdog the House of Representatives as it was intended to do. Please vote against these new rules that would weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics and strip the OCE of its independence. Thank you.”
  • Do that right now (or first thing in the morning, depending on when you read this). Then go back to your morning coffee or whatever.

Further Reading

(Edited to clarify message for representatives.)

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