House Republicans Move To Weaken Congressional Ethics Office

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In an abrupt move made without the backing of their leaders, Republicans in the House of Representatives plan to dramatically scale back an independent congressional ethics office created eight years ago.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was created eight years ago, in the wake of several high-profile congressional scandals. OCE is designed to have a non-partisan structure, and it operates independently of Congress. While the office has very little power, it has often released reports critical of ethical lapses by various congressmen.

But in an internal 119-74 vote during a party conference meeting Monday, House GOP members voted to rename OCE to the Office of Congressional Complaint Review, and place it under the control of the House Ethics Committee. The new rules also prohibit investigations based on anonymous allegations, allow the ethics committee to torpedo an ongoing investigation, and bar OCE from making public statements. Collectively, the rules greatly nullify OCE’s effectiveness, which was already quite limited (the office didn’t even have a subpoena power). – READ MORE

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