Recently, twenty Democratic members of Congress have sought to limit the powers of the independent ethics oversight body, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), and essentially. These lawmakers represent less than half of the Congressional Black Caucus and a few of them are among a list of lawmakers in both parties who are under scrutiny by the OCE, including Rep. Charlie Rangel who was found in February to have knowingly violated ethical boundaries despite being warned by his staff.
It is noteworthy that more than half of the forty-two member Congressional Black Caucus has refused to join the effort, including leaders like Rep. Jim Clyburn, and the effort is not an official act of nor endorsed by the CBC.
Ethics reform was a high priority of the new Democratic majority in 2006 and has been a priority of Obama as a State Senator, U.S. Senator, and President. It is shameful that the progress on public service ethics in Congress is being targeted by a group of folks who happen to be directly or indirectly feeling the sting of the new oversight body. Members of both parties and all demographics are being investigated and there is no room for “poor me” when it comes to ethics and accountability. This is not unlike a child being punished for knowingly doing wrong, then whining that the parents’ authority should be hampered because they got in trouble while their siblings did not. Instead of addressing the consequences of some members’ unethical conduct, these twenty members of Congress should be addressing the source of the unethical conduct.