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04 June 2010

Bishop, Johnson Should Pull Their Names From This Loose Ethics Bill

"Georgia Democrats believe that it is a privilege to serve in elected office, and all who serve should be held to the highest ethical standards."

-page 14, Democratic Party of Georgia platform

Earlier this week, the New York Times brought attention to a resolution introduced by twenty members of the Congressional Black Caucus seeking to loosen some provisions of the U.S. House ethics rules [Lipton, Eric (2010-6-1). 20 in Black Caucus Ask for Curbs on Ethics Office. New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-6-4.].

Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman opined on the new move by certain members of Congress like this:

It’s no surprise that members of Congress don’t like the OCE. Unlike the House ethics committee, the OCE truly is independent, and a key part of that independence is its authority to release reports of its investigation to the public. If that power is taken away and the ethics committee, made up of fellow congressmen, is given the authority to squelch those reports, an important check on congressional ethics will disappear.

Voting now to weaken the OCE would be a terrible confirmation of the public’s current disdain for Congress. It would also make it much more difficult for congressional Democrats to claim that Congress operates any differently now than it did under Republican rule, when the ethics investigation process broke down completely.

Bookman, Jay (2010-6-2). Black Caucus launches effort to repeal major ethics reform. Jay Bookman. Retrieved on 2010-6-4.

The resolution referenced above is H.Res.1416 and features the names of two Georgia Democrats --Sanford Bishop and Hank Johnson-- on its list of co-sponsors.

No Democrat from the State of Georgia should co-sponsor this resolution. It undercuts the message that Georgia Democrats believe in ethical government. How, exactly, can the Democratic Party of Georgia make the argument that public officials should be held to the "highest ethical standards" when two members of the state Democratic executive committee are lending their support to legislation that loosens the ethics rules.

It's the height of hypocrisy.

If these twenty members of Congress have a problem with the Office of Congressional Ethics' actions, then there is really only one obvious solution:

Don't violate the ethics rules. Don't even give the appearance of any wrong-doing.

In other words, avoid being accused. And, avoid chickenshit moves like changing the rules of the game because you don't like the outcome.

Give Congressmen Sanford Bishop [(202) 225-3631] and Hank Johnson [(202) 225-1605] a call, and let them know that their constituents back home in Georgia don't want to see their names on this chickenshit piece of legislation.