The Hill: Watchdogs urge House leaders to keep ethics panel
The watchdogs say the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) "has significantly improved the House ethics process" by adding unprecedented transparency to an otherwise murky system while amassing "an outstanding record of bipartisan ethics enforcement."
They're calling on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) "to publicly and expeditiously announce" their intent to extend the life of the OCE into the next Congress.
"The OCE’s breadth of public investigations includes questions surrounding earmarks, travel allowances, permissible uses of legal expense funds, potential lobbying disclosure act violations, the combined efforts of which has generated significant improvement in legislative transparency," the groups wrote in a Sept. 4 letter.
"While the Office would be best served by further strengthening, we believe at this juncture it is most important that the bipartisan leadership of the House demonstrate your continued commitment to the OCE and publicly commit to its continued operation in the next Congress."
Groups signing the letter include the Sunlight Foundation, Public Citizen, the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, Common Cause and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
"While we are aware that you will no doubt hear from some skeptics in both of your caucuses who would prefer to do away with the OCE, we urge you to reject this short-sighted viewpoint which is exactly the 'above-the-law' attitude that helps fuel public distrust of a Congress whose approval levels have hit record lows," the groups wrote in their letter.
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