Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Public Office Wants to Go Private: House Quietly Rewrites Ethics Rules

NextNewsNetwork | Jan 14, 2015


Transcript: 

Politicians are ethical people. Just ask them. It turns out, the leaders who make rules for a living don’t like rules as much when the tables are turned on THEM. Case and point, in the House of Representatives, as the new class of lawmakers erases decade-old ethics standards from the rule books.

This isn’t the first time Congress has bent the rules in their favor. They don’t have to use Obamacare, lawmakers that are protected by men with big guns often try to strip smaller guns from their constituents, and now, politicians are showing their true colors once again. This time, the House is cutting back on transparency, making it even harder for watchdogs to call them out or keep them in check.

You’ve heard of the Ethics Committee. Rules in place, to keep politicians from breaking the rules. Some of these ethics rules are the very reason New York Congressman Michael Grimm was forced to resign from power just this week. Now, the Ethics Commission is losing leverage in a big way. The new language in the bill applies to both of the two main watchdog groups. It says they "may not take any action that would deny any person any right or protection provided under the Constitution of the United States."

And if a Congressman is charged or accused, they highlighted new language in the bill, essentially allowing the accused party to get a head start on covering their tracks. It really reads a lot like the Miranda rights officers read to suspects when taking them into arrest. Any politician facing investigation "shall be informed of the right to be represented by counsel and invoking that right should not be held negatively against them." Now, if a politician is facing Ethics charges, the commission has to warn him ahead of time, and essentially tip him off to keep quiet.

Lawmakers don’t like these Ethics Commissions. We’ve known that for years. It’s all because politicians don’t like their dirty laundry out in the open, and the Ethics Commission publishes all findings, reports and documents to the public, even if the panel rules later on that the evidence wasn’t enough to press charges.

It’s interesting: Those who serve in a PUBLIC office seem to value THEIR right to privacy. But from recent laws on Capitol Hill, Congress rarely holds the privacy of the PUBLIC in the same high regard.

That’s our government. Of the people. By the people. And for the politicians.

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