Loading...
A BYH to the grammar challenged staff at the DR. Friday's front page indicated that cigarette butts "lay" on the...

Review of House ethics office overdue

010617Ed_Ethics

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, left, talks with Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday as the 115th Congress gets underway.

Loading…

Friday, January 6, 2017

The 115th Congress flopped into Washington on Tuesday with House Republicans proposing and then dropping marginal changes to an internal ethics office. The reversal is an unforced political error, but the GOP is right that the investigative body has the power to destroy reputations without due process.

By the way, Paul Ryan was re-elected Speaker Tuesday with one GOP defection, while Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lost four Democrats. But that news was dwarfed as the House considered rules for the new Congress, and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte offered an amendment to restructure the Office of Congressional Ethics.

The office is composed of political grandees, often former members, and it has no prosecutorial power. But it conducts investigations into members or staffers and makes recommendations to the House Ethics Committee. The proposal limited what information can be released to the public and barred the committee from having a press secretary. Also banned: anonymous tips.

Ryan and other House leaders opposed the rule as badly timed. But the rank and file adopted the idea Monday night anyway, only to dump it on Tuesday after denunciations from the Democratic-media complex. The left rounded up callers to deluge Republican switchboards for “gutting” the outfit. Donald Trump couldn’t resist piling on with a pair of tweets.

The reality is that the office is at best redundant and perhaps worse. Democrats created the office in 2008 to deflect attention from a crush of corruption scandals, including charges against at least three members. The left is pitching the place as an essential institution of self-government, but the Senate manages to function without a similar office.

As it is, the ethics office is a roving investigator that can publish reports with details that may not be accurate and can damage a reputation with little or no proof of guilt. Evidence of wrongdoing in travel, campaign finances and other matters can be handled by the House Ethics Committee, and if necessary law-enforcement agencies. Both are politically accountable, unlike the independent office.

Anonymous complaints are especially insidious, as subjects of an investigation may not know who is accusing them and the accuser may never have to press his case. Nixing the communications director is also worthy: A press secretary is nothing but a designated leaker. The office is a great tool for government “watchdog” groups that are progressives posing as transparency enthusiasts, which renders the proceedings even less fair.

The burning question in the media has been whether Trump or public outcry deserve credit for the GOP’s about-face. In any case, House Republicans will pay a political price for trying, then failing, to rush through ethics changes after running on draining the D.C. swamp. By caving so precipitously at the first sign of opposition, they’ve also invited more such pressure campaigns.

The upshot is an embarrassing start for a new GOP Congress that is supposed to be stalwart for pursuing conservative reform no matter the opposition. Progressives are elated that their Trump “resistance” project notched a victory and will continue the fact-free outrage campaigns. If you think the political pressure is intense on ethics rules, wait until the left completes its nationwide talent search for the person most harmed by the GOP’s health-care proposals. Trump will also figure he can rout any opposition with a tweet, not that he’s known for restraint.

The shame is that a review of the ethics office is overdue, much as due-process rights have suffered under the Obama Administration — from college campus show trials to bankrupting legal companies. Maybe Congress can restore its own due-process guarantees after it does something for everyone else’s.

From The Wall Street Journal

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

June 18, 2018

Master impersonators taking on multiple identities to vote as other people. Dead people rising from their graves to haunt your neighborhood polling place. Non-citizens descending by the caravan to vote alongside true Americans.

The mythical beast known as “voter fraud” is as…

110717voting-1.jpg

June 17, 2018

About a year ago, state Republican leaders vowed to retaliate in response to a painful rebuff from the U.S. Supreme Court, which had just refused to review a lower court ruling striking down the Legislature’s 2013 discriminatory voter ID law.

“All North Carolinians can rest assured that…

June 16, 2018

Supporters of North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program say a new report by N.C. State University researchers shows that the state voucher program is helping students from low-income families.

That’s far more hype than fact.

What the study makes clear is there’s no way to…

June 15, 2018

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.

The students, all from the school’s drama department, brought the house down singing the…

PARKLAND-MARCHES

June 14, 2018

The Singapore summit was, without question, a triumph for Kim Jong Un and his North Korean regime. A dictator who has ordered the murder of his own family members, and who oversees a gulag comparable to those of Hitler and Stalin, was able to parade on the global stage as a legitimate statesman,…

APTOPIX Trump Kim Summit-5

June 13, 2018

Kittens are intentionally poisoned with parasite-infested meat, studied and then burned alive — and it’s happening on your dime.

Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. spoke out last week about a controversial U.S. Department of Agriculture research project and signed on to a bipartisan bill that…

Science Says Domesticated Cats

June 12, 2018

The party whose leader promised to drain the swamp is now in the business of protecting cesspools.

The N.C. Senate’s Agriculture Committee has approved a bill that would protect the cheap way of handling hog waste: pooling it up in storage lagoons and then spraying it on fields, where it can…

Hog Smells Lawsuits-6

June 11, 2018

Bloomberg View

In its alarming new report on America's fast-rising suicide rate, the Centers for Disease Control cites many pressures that might lead people to take their own lives: problems with relationships or work, substance abuse, money troubles, or housing insecurity. No doubt all such…

June 11, 2018

In a week when many of us observed the one-year anniversary of the arrival of “GenX” in our vocabulary, the General Assembly chose the most cynical possible response. Instead of passing legislation that will protect Cape Fear River Basin residents from the chemical threat, lawmakers…

N.C. Legislative Building

June 09, 2018

Here it is, the beginning of the 2018 hurricane season, and we still haven’t made a reckoning of the real damage that last year’s Hurricane Maria inflicted on Puerto Rico.

Thanks, however, to a Harvard University study we’re getting closer to one. Researchers determined that in…

Puerto Rico Hurricane Deaths-7
108 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 11
        Next Page»   Last Page»