Who/What is OCE?
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is an independent, non-partisan board formed on 3/11/2008, after bribery allegations against Representatives Duke Cunningham, Republican of California; William J. Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana; and Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio. All three were ultimately convicted and served time in jail.
During the investigations and convictions, a need for more accountability, more detail, more updates and more transparency was evident. Washington needed a nonpartisan entity "on the inside" and OCE was born.
The role of the organization is to investigate misconduct within the United States House of Representatives. The group does not have the power to issue subpoenas, but once sufficient evidence is gathered, it votes to take the issue to the House Ethics Committee, which conducts its own review and votes to take further action. The findings of the investigations are then released to the media, which informs the public, and thereby creating more accountability and transparency.
Over the years OCE has received heavy criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for being too gung-ho and over-aggressive. Over-policing and over-complicating with more bureaucratic red tape has cost some representatives millions of dollars in defense fees only to be found not guilty of proposed minor charges.
The idea to do away with the congressional watchdog was presented by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), but Bob's timing couldn't be any worse...
Just say "no" to Ethics!
In a day when Donald Trump is attempting to gain the trust and confidence of the American people, you would think our US Congress would want their president-elect to begin his adventure on stable footing.
We're baaaaack! Trump in - ethics out!
Bad, bad, bad move... and making it worse was that the meeting and vote was conducted, the day before they were to return from holiday-break (1/2/2017), behind closed doors and with no public transparency. I suppose they thought they could just sneak it through and no one would notice but.... they had a surprise awaiting...
The first to resist was House Speaker Paul Ryan, then Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
It was McCarthy's resistance that got the attention of fellow Republicans. While most agree that something had to be done with OCE, the timing of the move was horrible and the late-night closed-door meeting did nothing but add suspicion and resentment from the public. "Your first order of business after the holiday break, is to do away with ethics?"
“Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House G.O.P. has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement on Monday night. “Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”
By Monday evening the media was all over it and by Tuesday morning the offices of our 115th US Congress were bombarded with anger, suspicion, resistance and public outrage.
While most of the initial criticism came from Democrats, a surprising voice came tweeting through the shadows..... President-elect Donald Trump had something to say..., and he too did not like the move.
Thousands of phone calls flooded lawmakers’ offices and both conservative and liberal ethics groups issued statements condemning the vote and saying the measure sent the wrong message to the public.
“It was a stumble,” said Representative Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, who opposed the measure and who was himself the subject of an ethics investigation while he was governor of South Carolina. “Probably not the way you want to start out.”
Mr. McCarthy told his fellow Republicans that they needed to reverse themselves quickly, or potentially face an even more embarrassing revolt on the House floor.
By Tuesday afternoon the decision to reverse the measure had been reached with the agreement that further review of the OCE and recommended changes will be discussed.
By Tuesday afternoon the House Flip-flopped on Ethics.
Written by John M Disque
Edited By Theresa L Margaret