Without Warning or Public Input, House Republicans Vote to Dismantle Ethics Oversight Office

A new Republican-led Congress meets today, and in one of their first moves, House Republicans have voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, dismantling reforms adopted after a previous Republican ethics scandal. The measure will take away authority and independence from the investigative body and give more power to lawmakers over internal inquiries. We speak with Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government affairs lobbyist on campaign finance and governmental ethics, who helped to set up the Office of Congressional Ethics after it was established in 2008, and says it “literally quadrupled” the number of ethics actions taken in the House but will now be “neutered.”

AMY GOODMAN: A new Republican-led Congress meets today. In one of the first moves, House Republicans have voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, dismantling reforms adopted after a previous Republican ethics scandal. The vote reportedly came as a surprise and without the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan or Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The full House is scheduled to vote later today.

Under the measure, the Office of Congressional Ethics will be renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and placed under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee. The move takes away authority and independence from the investigative body and gives more power to lawmakers over internal inquiries. According to The Washington Post, under new rules, the office will not be able to employ a spokesperson, investigate anonymous tips or refer criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors without the express consent of the Ethics Committee, which would also gain the power to end any of the office’s investigations. The measure’s sponsor, Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, said in a statement the move, quote, “builds upon and strengthens the current arrangement and improves the due process rights for the House members under investigation.”

Well, for more, we’re going to Washington, D.C., where we’re joined by Craig Holman,…

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