Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Office of Congressional Ethics - Walberg Votes No
"Politicians are all corrupt." It's a common complaint, and, sadly, often true. And, even more sadly, the final check on that corruption-- elections-- isn't always enough, because the voters won't know what their representative is up to if he or she hasn't been investigated.
When you have people like Congressman Don Young (under investigation for bribery), Congressman Rick Renzi (indicted on 35 counts), and the unfortunately-named Congressman John Doolittle (under investigation, as is his wife), let alone Congressman William Jefferson (who, infamously, was caught with $90,000 in a freezer), it's pretty clear that scrutiny is necessary to make sure these folks work for the public interest.
Wouldn't it be great if there were some impartial office watching all of them? Say, a board of six people, none of whom are members of Congress and none of whom are lobbyists or work for the government. Three could be appointed by the Speaker of the House and three could be appointed by the Minority Leader.
But, you don't want to give them too much power, or else you end up with people like Special Prosecutor Ken Starr, who was charged with investigating one thing and, finding nothing, led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton on something entirely different. So, what if this hypothetical ethics office were limited to a 30-day investigation, at the end of which they have a choice: drop the investigation, or take it to the next level, which will eventually lead to a recommendation of subpoenas.
This was not Fitzy merely musing on the type of government oversight I wish we had. Instead, it was the essence of H. Res. 1031, which the House of Representatives considered on March 10, 2008. The bill would create an Office of Congressional Ethics, which I have described above.
H. Res. 1031 passed, by a vote of 229 to 182.
Congressman Tim Walberg voted No.
You know, to me, this one seemed like a no-brainer. Apparently some members of Congress don't like the idea of accountability. Apparently Tim Walberg is one of them.
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