Statement by Kedric Payne on Encouraging Updates Regarding the Office of Congressional Ethics
Washington, D.C. - Kedric Payne, Vice President, General Counsel and Senior Director for Ethics at Campaign Legal Center and former Deputy Chief Counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, issued the following statement:
“The Office of Congressional Ethics is the only independent ethics investigatory body in Congress. As an independent and non-partisan watchdog, the OCE has conducted investigations that have brought public awareness to numerous issues of high importance to voters – things like failures to file timely stock trading reports, the acceptance of improper gifts and misuse of official resources.
This is why those of us who care deeply about holding our elected officials accountable and ensuring that members of Congress prioritize the needs of their constituents over their own financial interests were disheartened last month when the House of Representatives enacted a rules package containing provisions seemingly designed to make the OCE less effective.
These provisions required certain members of the OCE’s board to immediately vacate their positions and limited the body’s ability to replace any vacant position to a thirty-day hiring window. Without these members, the OCE would not have been able to function at full capacity, meaning accountability for ethics violations in the House would have been severely curtailed.
This is why today’s news that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries have appointed qualified members to the board is so encouraging. These newly appointed and re-appointed members can now begin hiring staff in order to get the OCE functioning for this Congress.
While there are still numerous ways that the OCE could and should be improved, having the OCE fully staffed and functioning is essential for independent and nonpartisan ethics oversight and accountability in Congress. The American public deserves effective ethics enforcement in Congress, and we at Campaign Legal Center are optimistic that the steps taken this week will help hold members of Congress accountable and help keep Americans informed.”