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DEMOCRATS PAY OFF INTRUSIVE IT MAN IMRAN AWAN:

“Congress Pays $850,000 to Muslim Aides Targeted in Inquiry Stoked by Trump,” reads the November 25 New York Times headline. According to the story, the previously unreported settlement is one of the largest to resolve discrimination or harassment claims, in this case by people who “lost their jobs and endured harassment in part because of their Muslim faith and South Asian origins.”

Reporters Noam Scheiber and Nicholas Fandos give no date for settlement and do not explain why it was “previously unreported.” Congress reportedly made the payment but the only House member quoted is Florida Democrat Ted Deutch, a leading figure in Democrats’ charge that candidate Donald Trump was guilty of collusion with Russia and a vocal proponent of impeaching President Trump.

“It is tragic and outrageous the way right-wing media and Republicans all the way up to President Trump attempted to destroy the lives of an immigrant Muslim-American family based on scurrilous allegations,” Deutch told Sheiber and Fandos. As they explain, the settlement was also “an attempt to bring a close to a convoluted saga that led to one of the most durable — and misleading — story lines of the Trump era.”

What started as “a relatively ordinary House inquiry into procurement irregularities by Imran Awan, three members of his family and a friend, who had a bustling practice providing members of Congress with technology support, was twisted into lurid accusations of hacking government information.” That side of the story could use more detail.

Of all the IT people in all the IT firms in all the world, House Democrats thought Imran Awan was best man for the job. Sometimes working from his native Pakistan, Awan and his family team accessed the computers of some 40 Democrats, including those on the intelligence and foreign affairs committees. Without their consent Awan and his team stashed the Democrats’ data on a server controlled by Xavier Becerra, chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

And speak of the devil: Biden Picks California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for HHS.

WOKE LEFTISTS ATTACK SPACE EXPLORATION, AND BOB ZUBRIN IS NOT AMUSED:

In October 2020, NASA’s Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey committee received a manifesto from its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group (EDIWG). Written by NASA Ames Research Center public-communications specialist Frank Tavares — along with a group of eleven co-authors including noted activists drawn from the fields of anthropology, ethics, philosophy, decolonial theory, and women’s studies — and supported by a list of 109 signatories, “Ethical Exploration and the Role of Planetary Protection in Disrupting Colonial Practices” lacks technical merit. It is, nevertheless of great clinical interest, as it brilliantly demonstrates how the ideologies responsible for the destruction of university liberal-arts education can be put to work to abort space exploration as well. . . .

The EDIWG authors are equally clear as to the means by which human space exploration and development can be stopped: the “planetary protection” bureaucracy.

“Planetary protection” was originally proposed for two purposes. One was to assure that life-detection experiments sent to other worlds did not return false positives resulting from the transport of terrestrial microbes along with the spacecraft. The other was to avert the possibility that dangerous microbes from other worlds might be transported back to Earth. These two contingencies are known as forward and back contamination, respectively.

The risk of back contamination — by disease organisms returned by Mars missions in particular — is the planetary-protection concern that generates most of the coverage in popular journalism and entertainment media. However, it has no rational scientific basis. There cannot be pathogens on Mars because there are no plants or animals there for them to infect. As for free living microorganisms that might conceivably exist on Mars, we know that these cannot be a threat to the Earth’s biosphere because there has been natural transport of billions of tons of Martian materials to Earth for the past 4 billion years. In fact, it is estimated that every year, approximately 500 kilograms of rocks ejected from Mars via meteoric impact land on our planet. Close examination of these rocks has shown that large portions of them were never raised above 40 degrees Celsius during their entire career of ejection from Mars, flight through space, and reentry and landing on Earth. They were therefore never sterilized, and if any microbes had existed in them when they left the Red Planet, they readily could have survived the trip. If there are, or ever were, microbes on the Martian surface, they have long since arrived here in large numbers, and continue to do so today. So the very expensive alterations to Mars sample-return mission designs demanded by the NASA Planetary Protection Office to preclude release of Martian microbes on earth are as nonsensical as ordering the border patrol to search all cars crossing our northern border to make sure that no one is importing Canada geese.

As someone who once served on NASA’s Planetary Protection subcommittee, I can assure you that it wasn’t meant to protect against “colonialism and racism.”

#METOO DESCENDS INTO SELF-PARODY: Stephanopoulos Raves Over ‘Resilient’ Disgraced Democrat Katie Hill.

That’s pretty much to be expected from Bill Clinton’s flack, and the network that worked to get an alleged Jeffrey Epstein whistleblower fired — from another TV network.

Flashback to Joe Cunningham at Red State last October, after they exposed Hill for being “a person in power who used that power for sexual satisfaction. Because of the nature of the allegations, even the House Ethics Committee is looking into the alleged affair with a congressional staffer – a huge no-no in Congress.” Or as Ann Althouse wrote at the time, “She had sex with a staffer. Nancy gave her the boot. Media narrative: Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!”

ED WHELAN HAS MORE ON the Judicial Conference’s attempt to “other” the Federalist Society while treating the ABA as nonpartisan.

The Committee on Codes of Conduct has 15 members, 13 of whom were appointed to their judicial positions by presidents. (The magistrate judge and the bankruptcy judge were appointed by other judges.) Of these 13 presidential appointees, eight were appointed by Democratic presidents and five by Republican presidents.

As I’ve pointed out, the Democratic appointees include Fourth Circuit judge Albert Diaz, who just happens to be not only a member of the ABA’s Judicial Division but the chairman of that body’s Appellate Judge Conference. Another of the Democratic appointees is John J. McConnell Jr. (of the District of Rhode Island), a former plaintiffs’ lawyer who, before taking the bench, donated almost $700,000 to Democratic candidates. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a vocal critic of the Federalist Society, strongly supported McConnell’s nomination and, despite the mediocre (minority “not qualified”) he received from the ABA’s judicial-evaluations committee, hailed him as a “brilliant legal mind.” So the composition of the Committee might go a long way to explain why the draft opinion favors the ABA over the Federalist Society.

As I’ve said before, the left expects the right to dominate the judiciary soon, and on its way out the door is trying to create “ethical” rules to stop the right from acting the way the left has acted for decades.

SQUAD GOALS: Rashida Tlaib frantically asked campaign for personal money, messages show, as ethics probes announced.

As Glenn has joked, getting Tlaib, AOC, and the rest of “the squad” elected was Roger Stone’s last and greatest political dirty trick.

WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM ABC, THE HOUSE OF STEPHANOPOULOS? “Advocates raise concerns for future of women, LGBTQ candidates after Rep. Katie Hill’s resignation.” Note the disparity between the headline of this ABC article and the reason why Hill resigned:

She resigned amid allegations of a relationship with a campaign staffer, for which she apologized, and with a congressional staffer, which she has denied and which was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. A relationship with a congressional staffer would be a violation under a new rule put in place in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Earlier: Ronan Farrow: Bill Clinton was ‘credibly accused of rape’ and accusation was ‘overdue for revisiting.’

REPORT: STAFFERS ALLEGEDLY CONFIRMED KATIE HILL’S AFFAIR WITH LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR, LEADING PELOSI TO DEMAND RESIGNATION.

Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA), who resigned Sunday following allegations that she had an affair with a congressional staffer, was reportedly told to resign by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Radio host Joe Messina reported on his Monday program “The Real Side,” that Hill’s resignation was demanded by Pelosi after the speaker learned that staffers in Hill’s office confirmed her affair with Legislative Director Graham Kelly. The staffers reportedly acknowledged the affair to the House Ethics Committee, which opened an investigation into the allegations.

When Pelosi learned of this, Messina reported, she told Hill to resign.

In other news regarding Hill, as Stephen Miller tweets, “Man, [her] current twitter feed is a better lesson in media bias then I could ever hope to accomplish in 11 years of being on Twitter. Go check it out.” The gang’s all here:

Just think of the media as Democratic Party operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense, to coin an Insta-phrase. And as Jim Treacher adds regarding the above lineup, “It really is amazing. And it hasn’t occurred to any of them that if Nancy Pelosi wanted Hill around, she wouldn’t have resigned.”

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): “She had sex with a staffer. Nancy gave her the boot. Media narrative: Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!”

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: Another House Democrat Under Investigation For Alleged Sex Scandal.

The House Ethics Committee announced this week that it has started an investigation into Democratic freshman Delegate Michael F. Q. San Nicolas of Guam, a non-voting member of the House of Representatives, over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a congressional staff member.

“The Committee is aware of public allegations that Delegate Michael F. Q. San Nicolas may have engaged in a sexual relationship with an individual on his congressional staff, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted improper or excessive campaign contributions,” the committee said in a statement. “The Committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding the allegations.”

No word yet on the role that Hank Johnson, the Democrats’ expert on all things Guam will play in the investigation.

THIS IS CATNIP FOR THE LONDON DAILY MAIL: Shocking photos of Congresswoman Katie Hill (D-CA) are revealed as she’s seen NAKED showing off Nazi-era tattoo while smoking a bong, kissing her female staffer and posing nude on ‘wife sharing’ sites.

One of the most scandalous photographs, shows a naked Hill holding a giant bong filled with a murky brown liquid.

Metadata from the picture reveals it was taken on 9/11 in 2017, before marijuana was legalized for recreational consumption in California.

It is unclear whether the congresswoman had a medical license for the drug at the time.

The picture also shows an iron cross tattoo on Hill’s pubic area, similar to the symbols formerly used by white supremacists referencing a World War II Nazi medal.

The tattoo could open the congresswoman to accusations of hypocrisy.

She has criticized racist Facebook posts that included a similar-looking cross, posted by a Santa Clarita veteran who was featured in her political rival’s campaign adverts last year

The veteran, David Brayton, posted racist memes on his Facebook page including the KKK insignia of a ‘blood cross’, a similar shape to the iron cross.

Hill called out the veteran at the time, saying the posts left her ‘deeply disturbed’ and that his ‘hateful rhetoric’ helped fuel ‘violence across America’.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) references in its hate symbols database that the iron cross symbol goes back to the 19th century, included on medals for the German Empire.

It was later adopted by Nazis for their medals, putting a swastika in the middle of the cross.

However, the ADL does note the ‘Iron Cross in isolation (i.e., without a superimposed swastika or without other accompanying hate symbols) cannot be determined to be a hate symbol,’ because bikers, skateboarders and extreme sports enthusiasts frequently use the symbol.

Yes, nice of the Daily Mail to dial it back there after the previous ‘graphs. Prolific Tweeter Neontaster writes, “Everyone claiming Katie Hill has a ‘Nazi-era tattoo’ wanted Talia Lavin fired for doing the exact same thing. Cool your jets.” Or as one wag quipped on Twitter, “So she rides Indy trucks on her [skate]board?” Their logo was the first thing I thought of when I saw the above (NSFW, obviously) photo.

However, while the tat itself isn’t damning, the rest of the story, as Iowahawk tweets, “may be a little tricky PR management-wise.” Including this development at RedState, where the Hill debacle is also catnip: Texts Reveal Concern About Katie Hill Drinking, Missing Flights.

UPDATE: Coverage of Rep. Katie Hill’s Affair Scandal brings up #MeToo Issues.

The scandal also highlighted potential issues related to the #MeToo movement. The #MeToo movement is an anti-sexual harassment movement that led to multiple scandals, such as male lawmakers resigning after past allegations came to light or male celebrities fading from public view due to sexual harassment and rape allegations linked to them.

As Politico noted there are #MeToo implications in this complex case:

“Yet the Hill case may prove a test for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the House Democratic Caucus. Pelosi and other Democrats took a hard line in sexual-harassment cases that emerged out of the #MeToo movement during the last several years, and a number of male lawmakers from both parties were forced to resign under pressure.”

“This is the first time such allegations have emerged involving a female lawmaker, and Democrats will be under scrutiny as to whether they can apply to same standards to a woman as a man.”

Speaking of #MeToo:

Related: We Need to Talk About Katie Hill and the Media:

This story, the story of Katie Hill, her “throuple,” and her subsequent affairs and scandal, is the story of a person in power who used that power for sexual satisfaction. Because of the nature of the allegations, even the House Ethics Committee is looking into the alleged affair with a congressional staffer – a huge no-no in Congress.

The mainstream media’s attempts to write [Jen] Van Laar and RedState out of the history of this scandal is saddening, but not entirely unexpected. The work that went into her series of articles detailing the scandal is the footwork of a true journalist. The use of certain images, while holding back on more scandalous ones, showed editorial restraint many outlets seem to have forgotten – that you can post enough to show something happened without posting too much and losing the point of the story.

CNN and other outlets are treating this story like it’s one they just stumbled across, like it’s a story that they plucked off some random corner of the Internet. But it isn’t.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Just Wow: Katie Hill tweeted sooo much trash about Kavanaugh last year and gosh, was she projecting or what?

QED:

(Bumped.)

AS ALWAYS, LIFE IMITATES WKRP IN CINCINNATI: Katie Hill, the Decidedly Non-Milfolicious Brazen Strumpet Representing California’s 25th District, Denies Affair With Male Staffer, Does Not Deny Affair With Female Staffer. “I think she’s not denying the affair with the woman because RedState posted a picture of her brushing the much, much younger staffer’s hair when she herself was completely naked. Kind of hard to make up an innocent story to explain that.”

“…but the senator, while insisting he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity.”

Related: House Ethics Committee to Investigate Katie Hill’s Alleged Relationship With Staffer.

#METOO COMES TO TENNESSEE: Democratic Rep. Rick Staples faces allegations, investigation of sexual misconduct.

Knoxville Democratic Rep. Rick Staples is facing disciplinary action after an internal investigation determined he violated the legislature’s sexual harassment policy, according to multiple sources aware of the inquiry.

As a result, Staples is expected to be removed from the House Ethics Committee, to which Speaker Glen Casada appointed him in January. . . .

A woman who recently interacted with Staples while visiting the legislature told the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee the actions come after she brought forward her concerns that the lawmaker inappropriately touched her.

The woman, who is not being identified by the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee because she is a victim of harassment, alleged that Staples grabbed and held on to her waist while standing behind her after he had made inappropriate comments about her appearance.

The woman is involved in Democratic politics in the state and said Staples had made inappropriate remarks to her on previous occasions. But she decided to move forward with a complaint most recently since she said Staples touched her inappropriately.

“My first day doing anything in politics, one of the very first things I heard was not to be alone in a room with Rick,” she said in an interview.

After the recent incident, she reported details about the encounter to House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, though she said she had to follow up with his office before receiving a reply.

All this weaponized-feminism stuff that failed to bring down Trump and Kavanaugh sure is wreaking havoc in the Democratic Party. Well, except in Virginia, where the press just made the story go “poof” when it looked like it might lead to a GOP governor.

Props to the Tennessean, though, for mentioning his party affiliation right up front.

FACT FILES ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST GILLIBRAND: It’s received virtually no coverage in the Mainstream Media, but the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

“On February 5th, 2019, Senator Gillibrand posted a political fundraising tweet requesting readers ‘chip in $5 so we can put an end to this’ using a video of her on the House floor during the State of the Union address,” FACT told the committee in a letter earlier this month.

“Presumably Senator Gillibrand is aware of her ethics violation because she later removed the tweet after raising funds in violation of ethics rules, all of which should be returned,” FACT continued.

I have no doubt that, since this matter has now been brought to their attention, The New York Times, Washington Post, et. al. will even today remedy this serious oversight in their 2020 Democratic presidential nomination campaign coverage. Oh, and I will surely see a couple of pigs flying over my backyard tomorrow, too!

 

 

FOR ALL THOSE WHO ARE DISMISSING CLAIMS OF WORKPLACE HARASSMENT BY SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, A REMINDER: Congressman Accused of Harassment Resigns.

Representative Eric J. Massa, a freshman Democrat from upstate New York who is under investigation for harassing a male aide, said on Friday that he would resign from the House.

Mr. Massa was reported to the House ethics committee last month after a member of his Congressional staff accused him of harassment, according to a senior Congressional official who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Mr. Massa, who represents New York’s 29th District, abandoned his re-election campaign on Wednesday, after the accusation became public, saying then that he would retire at the end of his term. . . .

His travails had posed the latest ethical distraction for House Democrats as they try to push through a health care bill and prepare for what will be challenging midterm elections this fall.

On Wednesday, Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, relinquished his powerful post as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee after he was admonished by the House ethics committee for accepting corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean.

Along with the calls for Gov. David A. Paterson’s resignation as he faces investigation over a domestic violence episode involving a top aide and an inquiry concerning the solicitation of tickets to the World Series, the Democratic Party has become vulnerable to the same criticism about a culture of corruption that Democrats used against Republicans to win control of Congress in 2006.

But they’ll circle the wagons around Klobuchar because (1) she’s a woman; and (2) they want her to be viable for 2020.

PARTY OF ILHAN OMAR AND RASHIDA TLAIB: House Democrat warns ethics committee about Steve King promoting white nationalism website. But when the Republicans stripped him of his leadership posts, that was just the beginning. Notice that the Democrats won’t even denounce Omar and Tlaib, much less take any action against them.

ONLY A MONTH AFTER BEING ELECTED, SHE’S ALREADY LEARNED HOW TO ABUSE HER POWER: Ocasio-Cortez Threatens Subpoena in Response to Meme Shared by Trump Jr.

Democratic Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) threatened to use Congress’ subpoena power against Donald Trump Jr. after the president’s son mocked her on social media.

In a Thursday Instagram post, Trump Jr. posted a meme that depicted the democratic socialist Ocasio-Cortez asking President Donald Trump, “Why are you so afraid of a socialist economy?”

“Because Americans want to walk their dogs, not eat them,” Trump responds in the meme, a reference to the extreme food shortages in Venezuela that have reduced residents to eating pets and zoo animals.

Socialists hate mockery, because it’s easy to mock lying idiots. But this kind of threat is specifically forbidden by House Ethics rules. So she’s managed to breach Congressional ethics before being sworn in. She really is precocious!

And here’s the meme she was unhappy about. Spread it around!

CORN, POPPED: Democrats are sounding every alarm now that Trump has forced Jeff Sessions to resign.

Several prominent Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who serves as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, have raised concerns that Sessions’ departure could throw a wrench in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“The firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions places the Special Counsel’s investigation in new and immediate peril,” Schiff said in a statement.

“It is abundantly clear that Sessions was forced out for following the advice of ethics lawyers at the Department of Justice and recusing himself from the Russia probe, and for failing to bring about an end to an investigation that has produced multiple indictments and convictions and may implicate the President or others around him,” Schiff said.

Democrats have major concerns regarding the newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has previously lashed out at Mueller and the Russia probe at large.

I’m still waiting for any sign of smoke, much less fire.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. David French: The Democrats Haven’t Earned Your Vote.

Democrats claim that now is a critical time for public hygiene. It’s time to hold corrupt, self-aggrandizing politicians accountable. I agree.

Ask your Democratic candidate if he or she is willing to publicly condemn New Jersey senator Robert Menendez — tried for public corruption and admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for doing favors for a wealthy contributor in exchange for lavish gifts — the way that so many conservatives condemned (and ultimately rejected) Roy Moore.

Democrats claim that now is the time to reject the politics of personal destruction. They look at a president who calls people names, who spins out wild conspiracy theories (Ted Cruz’s father participated in the Kennedy assassination? Really?), and they demand better. I agree.

Look at your Democratic candidate’s actions regarding Brett Kavanaugh. Did they credit facially implausible gang-rape allegations? Did they presume his guilt and declare they “believed survivors” even without substantiation and in the face of contradictory evidence? Did they participate in a campaign to destroy a man’s life and career, only to drop the whole matter the instant he was confirmed?

Democrats decry Republican extremism and alarmism. They look at wild claims about the border caravan, wasteful troop deployments, and alarmist rhetoric about criminals and Middle Easterners. They condemn family separation. They decry Trump’s “enemy of the people” rhetoric. They believe that Trump and his allies are dangerously raising tensions in the American body politic. I agree.

Ask where your Democratic candidate stands on Hillary Clinton’s rejection of civility, Cory Booker’s call for protesters to “get up in the face of some congresspeople,” Eric Holder’s declaration that “when they go low, we kick them,” or Maxine Waters’s ominous demand that “if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

And while you’re at it, ask your Democratic candidates if the challenge of Donald Trump is so grave that they’re willing to moderate their positions on abortion, immigration, health care, gun rights, or religious liberty even in the slightest to win your support.

Hey, it’s a crisis of democracy, but it’s not that serious.

AUDIO: Tom Cotton tells Hugh Hewitt “I believe that the Schumer political operation was behind this from the very beginning” referring to release of Dr. Ford’s letter, suggests Bar discipline for Dr. Ford’s lawyers. “I believe the Schumer political operation was behind this from the very beginning. We learned last week that a woman named Monica McLean was Ms. Ford’s roommate, and she was one of the so-called beach friends who encouraged Ms. Ford to go to Dianne Feinstein and the partisan Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. Well, it just turns out, it just so happens that Monica McLean worked for a Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, now a virulent anti-Trump critic on television and former counsel to Chuck Schumer. So I strongly suspect that Chuck Schumer’s political operation knew about Ms. Ford’s allegations as far back as July and manipulated the process all along to include taking advantage of Ms. Ford’s confidences and directing her towards left-wing lawyers who apparently may have violated the D.C. code of legal ethics and perhaps may face their own investigation by the D.C. Bar.”

STAY TUNED: Will New Jersey Send A Republican To The Senate?

Democrats are defending 26 Senate seats, Republicans only nine. Five Democratic incumbents are running in states that 21 months ago experienced Donald Trump swoons: He won Missouri by 18.6 points, Indiana by 19.2, Montana by 20.4, North Dakota by 35.7, West Virginia by 42.1. In New Jersey, which Hillary Clinton carried by 14.1 points, Menendez was supposed to be safe.

The Republicans’ most recent presidential victory in New Jersey was in 1988. In the subsequent seven elections, the Democratic presidential candidates’ average margin of victory was almost 13 points. This state last elected a Republican senator (Clifford Case) in 1972. This 46-year drought might end in November.

Robert Hugin, 63, grew up in blue-collar Union City, as did Menendez, with whom Hugin served as student representatives to the local board of education. Hugin became the first in his family to graduate from college (Princeton), served 14 years in the Marine Corps (his two sons are now officers), then went into business, rising to run a pharmaceutical company. This sin, although scarlet in the overheated public mind, might be less so than Menendez’s transgressions detailed in the letter.

With hilarious understatement, James Madison, who was not known for hilarity, said, “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.” A unanimous Senate ethics committee (three Republicans, three Democrats) in its April 26 letter to Menendez said: “By this letter, you are hereby severely admonished.” Menendez, the letter said, brought “discredit upon the Senate” by the following:

“Over a six-year period,” Menendez “knowingly and repeatedly accepted gifts of significant value” from a friend (an ophthalmologist who, the letter did not say, is currently appealing a 17-year sentence for $73 million of fraudulent Medicare billings). The gifts included air travel on private and commercial flights, a luxury hotel stay in Paris (the committee’s letter is demurely silent about Menendez’s accompanying girlfriend) and 19 visits to a Dominican Republic villa. He neither publicly reported, nor received written permission for, these gifts. In addition, the committee said, Menendez improperly intervened with federal agencies with “persistent advocacy” for his friend’s business interests.

Menendez got off light. The voters should turn him out. But it’s New Jersey, so. . . .

CATHY YOUNG: The two faces of #MeToo: justice for Eric Schneiderman & grave overreactions for others.

The latest news from the front lines of #MeToo, the cultural war on sexual abuse that began with the downfall of Hollywood mogul and accused predator Harvey Weinstein last October, is a particularly shocking bombshell: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a vocal #MeToo supporter who was in the forefront of efforts to bring Weinstein to account, abruptly resigned Monday three hours after the publication of a New Yorker story detailing several women’s claims that he physically and psychologically abused them during intimate relationships.

While Schneiderman denies the allegations, they are backed by some solid corroborative evidence. There are also disturbing overtones of abuse of power, with some of the women saying Schneiderman made references to the authority of his office as an intimidation tactic.

It is a horrifying story, and a stark example of what #MeToo means to most of the movement’s supporters: A powerful abuser, once shielded by his position, finally facing the consequences of his misdeeds.

But the Schneiderman reckoning is only one of several recent #MeToo-related stories in the news. Here are some of the others:

►Richard Ned Lebow, a professor of political theory at King’s College London, was found guilty of making an “offensive and inappropriate” remark by the ethics committee of the International Studies Association and ordered to make an “unequivocal apology” to Merrimack College gender studies professor Simona Sharoni. His offense? When the two shared a crowded elevator at the ISA annual meeting in San Francisco last month, someone asked for the floors to be announced, and Lebow responded by joking, “Ladies’ lingerie” — referencing the old system of floor announcements in department stores.

►Writer Junot Diaz is at the center of a major scandal due to accusations that surfaced at the Sydney Writers’ Festival and were amplified in the social media. Writer Zinzi Clemmons said Diaz “forcibly” kissed her six years ago when he spoke at a workshop she helped organize as a 26-year-old graduate student at Columbia University. (It’s unclear whether she is alleging use of physical force; such language is now routinely used to refer to kissing without explicit permission.) Several other women came forward to say Diaz argued with them in an overly aggressive manner — claims that have oddly Victorian overtones of female frailty. Diaz withdrew from his remaining appearances at the festival and several bookstores are dropping his books.

► According to a New York Times report, the children’s books industry has been reeling from sexual harassment charges against some of the relatively few men in the field — charges that generally involve unwanted but non-coercive advances, badly handled consensual relationships, or inappropriate comments. The print run of one picture book was pulped because the artist, David Diaz, was accused of making unwanted flirtatious remarks to several women at industry events; the publisher is now seeking another illustrator.

Well, blurring the lines gives activists more power. And that’s what activists mostly want.

WELL, HE’S A DEMOCRAT, SO. . . Democrats take cautious approach on sexual assault allegations against California congressman. “More than a day after the child sexual assault allegations against California Congressman Tony Cardenas became public, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she was withholding judgment on Cardenas until a House Ethics Committee investigation is complete. A broad array of other Democratic officials in California and in Washington have declined to comment publicly. The cautious response to a sitting congressman accused of assaulting a then-16-year-old girl more than 10 years ago is striking after a year in which the #MeToo movement and the Roy Moore scandal dominated the headlines. “

SENATE ETHICS PANEL SAYS MENENDEZ GUILTY: Of a lot, including accepting multiple gifts “of significant value” and failing to report them, as required by Senate rules and federal laws. Senate Select Committee on Ethics released its Letter of Public Admonition late Thursday.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: DOJ Official Bruce Ohr Hid Wife’s Fusion GPS Payments From Ethics Officials. “Bruce Ohr, the Department of Justice official who brought opposition research on President Donald Trump to the FBI, did not disclose that Fusion GPS, which performed that research at the Democratic National Committee’s behest, was paying his wife, and did not obtain a conflict of interest waiver from his superiors at the Justice Department, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show. The omission may explain why Ohr was demoted from his post as associate deputy attorney general after the relationship between Fusion GPS and his wife emerged and Fusion founder Glenn Simpson acknowledged meeting with Ohr. Willfully falsifying government ethics forms can carry a penalty of jail time, if convicted.”

(Bumped).

Related: Monica Showalter: Bruce and Nellie Ohr: The other Trump-hating lovebirds. “The Daily Caller speculates that from Fusion GPS’s point of view, it was the perfect Bonnie and Clyde scenario for getting its research out there – not just for the incurious press, but before the eyes of the FBI, using the FBI as a means to take down Trump. All of this would have benefited its client, Hillary Clinton, whose campaign, along with the Democratic National Committee, was paying for the whole thing. Two heads are better than one, it seems. Lovebirds united in their loathing of Trump repeatedly get into mischief. This shows the incestuousness of the Deep State, of course: first FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and his wife, then FBI counterintelligence big Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page, and now Bruce and Nellie Ohr. Not a one of them was afraid of the consequences that ordinarily come of blatant conflicts of interest, and some, apparently such as Bruce Ohr, felt they could get away easily with lying. It goes to show it’s about time to clean house harder among the Deep State tag-teams.”

ELIZABETH NOLAN BROWN: The Phony Feminism of Kamala Harris: Harris only cares about other women’s rights when those rights don’t conflict with her career ambitions. “Kamala Harris has long positioned herself as a feminist crusader. But both as attorney general of California and now as a member of the U.S. Senate, she has actively championed policies that deny women’s agency, ratchet up female incarceration, and endanger those most vulnerable to sexual abuse. Along the way, she has shown an utter disregard for civil liberties and constitutional law—a tendency she will now get to take to the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.”

And I remember when she was defending fake confessions.

What prosecuting attorney Robert Murray did was produce a translated transcript of the defendant’s interrogation to which he had added a fraudulent confession. The defense attorney got a copy of the audio tape of the interrogation, but it “ended abruptly.” Eventually, Murray admitted to falsifying the transcript, presumably in the hopes of either coercing a plea deal, or ensuring a victory at trial.

When the trial judge found out, charges against the defendant were dismissed. Incredibly, the State of California, via Attorney General Kamala Harris, decided to appeal the case. The state’s key argument: That putting a fake confession in the transcript wasn’t “outrageous” because it didn’t involve physical brutality, like chaining someone to a radiator and beating him with a hose.

Well, no. It just involved an officer of the court knowingly producing a fraudulent document in order to secure an illicit advantage. If Harris really thinks that knowingly producing a fraudulent document to secure an illicit advantage isn’t “outrageous,” then perhaps she slept through her legal ethics courses.

Well, she’s a California Democrat, so. . . .

OF COURSE HE DOES: Leahy Regrets Calling For Franken Resignation Before Ethics Committee Investigation.

ELIZABETH PRICE FOLEY IN THE HILL: Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations?

She has a good discussion of how different cases should be treated, and winds up with this:

While Congress has authority under Article I, Section 5 to expel a seated member with two-thirds concurrence, expulsion for conduct that occurred prior to congressional election would be breathtakingly aggressive. Indeed, in 2008, the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint filed against Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), accused of repeated solicitation of prostitution, with the first reason articulated being “the conduct at issue occurred before your Senate candidacy and service.”

Expelling a member for conduct that occurred during office, by contrast, would stand on firmer constitutional ground. Precedent strongly suggests, however, that sexual indiscretions are highly unlikely to result in expulsion, and for good reason. Of the 20 expulsions of sitting members that have occurred, 17 were for supporting the Confederacy. The remaining three — Sen. William Blount (R-Tenn.), Rep. Michael Myers (D-Pa.) and Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) — were likewise expelled for serious criminal behavior inconsistent with public trust (treason, bribery and racketeering, respectively). Short of expulsion, however, as Sen. Franken and Rep. Conyers know, the threat of an ethics committee investigation is often sufficient to trigger resignation in an effort to avoid further public airing of indiscretions.

When it comes to allegations of sexual impropriety against a president or presidential candidate — such as those made against President Clinton and presidential candidate Donald Trump — higher stakes should counsel extreme hesitation for Congress to “investigate” or second guess the will of voters. Indeed, short of impeachment, Congress lacks jurisdiction to investigate allegations of presidential impropriety. A president is not another member of Congress, and thus not subject to the jurisdiction of congressional ethics or oversight committees.

While a president may be removed from office for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” impeachment charges are referred to the appropriate House committee, and they involve serious breaches of public trust committed during the president’s time in office. Short of impeachment proceedings, calls for Congress to “investigate” a sitting president’s sexual behavior prior to inauguration are inappropriate process and odious to our Constitution’s separation of powers.

Read the whole thing.

THE HILL: Ethics panel clears Intel chairman of disclosing classified info.

The House Ethics Committee on Thursday cleared Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, of allegations that he disclosed classified information to the public.

In a statement, the committee said it is closing the investigation into Nunes after consulting with experts on classification rules.

“Based solely on the conclusion of these classification experts that the information that Representative Nunes disclosed was not classified, the Committee will take no further action and considers this matter closed,” it said.

Nunes during a press conference earlier this year announced that intelligence agencies had incidentally collected information about associates of President Trump.

Or maybe not so incidentally, as it is appearing now.

ROGER SIMON: TOTALLY REVAMP THE ETHICS COMMITTEES AND THE OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE.

268 settlements?  Does anyone know what they were? Who paid that $17.2 million and on whose behalf?  Don’t we have a right to know how it was spent, er, how we taxpayers were fleeced by our representatives? Apparently not.  At least tell who the harassers are who got a free ride.

Read the whole thing.

CLYBURN COMPARES JOHN CONYERS’ ACCUSERS TO CHILD MURDERER WHO CLAIMED A BLACK MAN HAD ABDUCTED HER KIDS:

In a video posted on Twitter, the 77-year-old Clyburn is walking to an elevator with Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.), when asked “Other men in other industries have faced similar accusations … and gotten out of the way, resign, stepped down, far faster than he has, right … Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer?”

That was followed by another question, “So it’s different because he’s elected,” but the elevator doors closed before Clyburn might have responded.

Many comments critical of Clyburn have been posted on social media. Among them, people are questioning his logic, asking him to resign – in delicate and powerful terms – and calling him a poor representative of South Carolina.

A writer for The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic tweeted that Clyburn invoked the name of Susan Smith, South Carolina’s infamous child murderer, in his defense of Conyers.

“James Clyburn compared Conyers’ accusers to the child murderer Susan Smith, who initially claimed a black man had abducted her kids. Clyburn said, these are all white women who’ve made these charges against Conyers,” Robert Draper tweeted.

When asked if that comment was true, Draper said he verified it through two sources, adding “Clyburn has used the Susan Smith parallel more than once, to members & staffers.”

Classy stuff – Clyburn is smearing Conyers’ own former staffers as murderers and crypto-racists; never mind at least one of them telling AP she “felt honored” to be attending a Congressional Black Caucus event with Conyers:

Serving as a deputy chief of staff at the time, Deanna Maher, 77, said Conyers stripped in front of her in a Washington hotel room in 1997.

“I was absolutely shaking, and he took off his clothes,” Maher told CNN. “Then I figured out, ‘Oh my god, what did I do? How stupid at my age that I walked in and got myself into a situation like that.'”

Maher, who was in her 50s at the time, told the Associated Press she “felt honored” to attend a three-day Congressional Black Caucus event with Conyers, but later discovered they would be sharing a two bedroom hotel suite.

“He sat there eating sandwiches and then he stormed out and slammed the door,” she told the Associated Press. “He didn’t put his hand on me, but the message was loud and clear.”

Maher also described two other incidents of unwanted sexual contact from Conyers.

Conyers allegedly touched “all over” Maher’s abdomen during a car ride to the airport in 1998, and a year later he allegedly stuck his hands up her dress and whispered, “You’ve got great looking legs,” on stage during a town hall, Maher told CNN.

Maher also alleged that Conyers’ office promoted bad behavior and that a male staffer forcibly kissed her. CNN reported she filed complaints to the FBI and House ethics committee following the incident.

Hasn’t Clyburn’s race card gotten awfully maxed out by now? Here’s a flashback to Jim Treacher in 2010 on “A Brief History of Racism: The Clyburn Files.”

UPDATE: Report: Conyers To Announce Retirement In January.

THE PARTY OF THE LITTLE GUY: “I didn’t report the harassment because it was clear nobody wanted to take it seriously. John Conyers is a powerful man in Washington, and nobody wanted to cross him.”

Deanna Maher, Conyers’ former deputy chief of staff who ran his downriver office from 1997 to 2005, told The Detroit News that the Detroit Democrat made unwanted advances toward her three times.

Maher is the second former Conyers staffer to go public with accusations about the veteran lawmaker. Conyers on Sunday stepped aside as the the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid a congressional ethics probe of sexual harassment allegations involving former staffers.

The first instance of harassment happened, Maher said, shortly after the congressman hired her in September 1997 during an event with the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I didn’t have a room, and he had me put in his hotel suite,” said Maher, 77, adding that she rejected his offer to share his room at the Grand Hyatt in Washington and have sex.

The other incidents with the now 88-year-old Conyers involved unwanted touching in a car in 1998 and another unwanted touching of her legs under her dress in 1999, she said.

Cokie Roberts’ years-long silence effectively empowered Conyers.

JOHN CONYERS STEPS ASIDE FROM JUDICIARY POST AMID SEX HARASSMENT INQUIRY:

“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me,” Mr. Conyers said in a statement on Sunday, he is stepping aside on the Judiciary panel “during the investigation of these matters.”

The announcement came five days after the revelation that Mr. Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, had settled a complaint in 2015 by a former employee who had said she was fired because she rejected his sexual advances. The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into the matter.

“I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger,” Mr. Conyers said in the statement. “I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.”

The news of the settlement was first reported by BuzzFeed News, which said it received documents about the case from Mike Cernovich, a right-wing online commentator. BuzzFeed has reported that a second woman has also accused Mr. Conyers of sexual harassment.

As one Twitter user noted, “I guess he missed the point where Cernovich purposefully gave the information to Buzzfeed knowing that Conyers would take the stance of Cernovich being a non-credible source.”

In the update to his post earlier today on Nancy Pelosi describing Conyers as an “icon” on Meet the Press and thus deserving of a Clinton and Kennedy-esque pass, Allahpundit describes Conyers’ stepping down from the Judiciary Committee as a “half measure.” He links to Josh Barro of Business Insider, who tweets that his theory is that “After her MTP interview landed so badly, Pelosi told Conyers he was going to step aside, and that it could be his choice or hers.”

As Allah asks, so when does Conyers resign? He’s 88, and based on his winning 77 percent in his re-election bid in 2016, his seat is exceedingly safe.

UPDATE: “Pelosi looks ahead,” Scott Johnson writes at Power Line. “Conyers ‘stepped down’ from his perch on the Judiciary Committee, where he was the ranking member. This, however, just clears the decks for impeachment hearings in the event that Democrats retake control of the House in the next Congress.”

SHINE IT BRIGHTER: Conyers Settlement Shines Light on How Congress Handles Sexual Harassment.

Mr. Conyers on Tuesday said he settled the complaint to avoid litigation. He added he would cooperate with any further investigation in the House. News of the settlement and that it was related to a sexual-harassment claim surfaced Monday.

“I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so,” he said in a statement.

Tuesday afternoon, the House Ethics Committee announced it had “begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding these allegations.” The committee keeps its investigations confidential and said it won’t make further public statements “pending completion of its initial review.”

The revelation adds to the sexual-misconduct claims that have been aired in recent months against powerful men in politics as well as in media and entertainment.

PLUS:

That’s a lot of swamp to drain.

NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON: Though perhaps it is, as well as corruption. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz faces more questions about her IT techs.

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is coming under mounting pressure to explain why she kept an IT aide on the payroll for months after a criminal investigation was revealed, facing calls from Republicans to testify as well as a newly filed ethics complaint.

Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman who led the Democratic National Committee until last year, terminated Imran Awan’s “part-time” employment last week, when he was arrested at Dulles International Airport trying to fly to Pakistan. He was charged with a bank fraud count.

But he and other former IT aides for House Democrats have been on investigators’ radar screen for months over concerns about possible double-billing, alleged equipment theft and access to sensitive computer systems. Most lawmakers fired Awan in March, but Schultz kept him on, though he was barred from the House IT network.

She should face a special prosecutor.

MISSING WORDS HERE: “UNDER OATH.” Susan Rice met with Senate Intelligence Committee as part of Russia probe.

Susan Rice met privately with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators on Friday as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s election interference.

A spokesperson for Rice confirmed the closed-door meeting, saying the former Obama administration national security adviser “met voluntarily” with the committee as part of its ongoing probe.

Hmm. Meanwhile Jill Stein weighs in:

Plus: Top Dems Slow Rolling Ethics Probe to Delay Investigation Into Obama Leaks.

JUST THINK OF HER AS A DEMOCRAT OPERATIVE WITH A BYLINE AND IT ALL MAKES SENSE:

Shot: King Hilariously Defends Yachting with Obamas; ‘Not Political’ at All.*

NewsBusters, yesterday.

Chaser: CBS and Low Journalist Ethics: On June 13, 2015,Gayle King attended private party with Prince at the White House. In 2011, King donated $35,800 to the Obama Victory Fund and $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee.

Newsalert, today.

* And given the benchmarks previously set by her colleagues at CBS, she may even believe that to be true.

WATCHDOG: Judicial Watch wants ethics probe widened to Democrats.

The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch is asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee may have violated standards by disclosing classified information.

In the letter that requests the investigation of ranking committee member Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Jackie Speier, both of California, Judicial Watch cites other complaints to the OCE which were successful in garnering an investigation of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. Nunes stepped aside from leading the committee’s Russia investigation after the OCE began their investigation.

“If the standard for filing a complaint or opening an ethics investigation is that a member has commented publicly on matters that touch on classified information, but the member does not reveal the source of his or her information, then the complaints against Chairman Nunes are incomplete insofar as they target only Nunes,” Judicial Watch wrote. “At least two other members of the House Intelligence Committee have made comments about classified material that raise more directly the very same concerns raised against Chairman Nunes because they appear to confirm classified information contained in leaked intelligence community intercepts.”

Sauce for the goose.

BREAKING: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes Steps Aside From Russia Probe.

In a short statement issued on Thursday, Mr. Nunes, a California Republican, said he would step aside from the investigation. It will instead be run by Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), with assistance from Reps. Trey Gowdy (R, S.C.) and Tom Rooney (R., Fla.).

The three will “temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation” while the Office of Congressional Ethics looks into what Mr. Nunes described as “entirely false and politically motivated” accusations lodged against him.

“I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims,” Mr. Nunes said in a statement.

Give them an inch…

OBAMA ETHICS DIRECTOR WALTER SHAUB GETS BIPARTISAN CONDEMNATION FOR POLITICIZING THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS. “During a closed-door meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Shaub was heavily criticized for the dramatic politicization of his supposedly nonpartisan government agency. Chairman Jason Chaffetz led things off by blasting Shaub for his inappropriate tweets. . . . Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) echoed Chairman Chaffetz when he censured Shaub’s actions too, going so far as calling them unprofessional.” I think President Trump should replace him with someone more ethical.

NOTHING POLITICAL ABOUT THE TIMING HERE: Justice, FBI to be investigated over Clinton probes.

The Justice Department inspector general on Thursday announced that it will launch an investigation into the FBI’s conduct leading up to the 2016 elections.

The probe, which comes in response to requests from numerous chairmen and ranking members of congressional oversight committees, will look into allegations that Director James Comey broke bureau policy with his various public disclosures regarding the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

The FBI’s role in Clinton’s unexpected defeat in November has remained a subject of fierce debate — with Comey himself in the middle of the controversy. Clinton’s campaign has blamed Comey and the FBI for her loss to President-elect Donald Trump.

Well, Trump could always fire the Inspector General, the way that Obama did with Gerald Walpin. The usual “ethics watchdogs” were awfully quiet about that, but I’m sure they’d rouse for Trump.

SCRAMBLE: Prominent Republicans Begin Bid To Replace Haley In 2018.

The most well-known possible ticket for the 2018 gubernatorial election is Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy, who could announce their joint bid for the top two posts as early as December, according to The Post and Courier.

Gowdy first won his seat in the U.S. Congress in 2010, and has effectively campaigned for reelection every two years, earning just over 62 percent in the 2016 election season over Democratic challenger Chris Fedalei.

Gowdy is chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, and made news in recent months during his contentious interview with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her actions as secretary of state during the attack, and FBI Director James Comey for recommending Clinton not be charged with the possession of classified materials. Gowdy also serves on the Ethics Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Scott became the first black senator from South Carolina when he was appointed by Haley to fill Sen. Jim DeMint’s term in 2013. Scott later won his seat in the 2014 special election with 61 percent of the vote. He currently serves on the Special Committee on Aging, as well as the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, and he Chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Housing Transportation, and Community Development.

Governorships are a traditional route to the White House, and a forward-looking GOP could do a lot worse than Tim Scott or Trey Gowdy.

DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION! “Buying Organic Groceries in Brooklyn Can Be a Serious Trial:”

Brooklyn may have the only grocery store in the country that puts its customers on trial.

The Park Slope Food Coop, founded in 1973, is a neighborhood institution known for its deadly serious dedication to organic produce and egalitarian values. Its 17,000 members are required to work 2¾ hours every four weeks in exchange for crunchy camaraderie and discounted groceries.

Over the years, the store has weathered its share of publicity for fighting over topics like the ethics of tuna harvesting. Recently, when one such dispute about Middle Eastern politics spiraled out of control, four members found themselves facing judgment before a jury of their peers, accused of being, well, uncooperative.

The co-op’s parallel criminal-justice system has its own peculiar lingo. Juries, dubbed “hearing and deciding groups,” are selected at random from the co-op membership. Members of a disciplinary committee build cases, which are presented by the “co-op advocate,” effectively a lead prosecutor. Judges are known as “hearing officers,” and the judicial process is overseen by a “hearing administration committee.”

Members caught in the crosshairs are given a choice: an arbitration, in essence a bench trial, or judgment by a jury of their peers. A writer from the Linewaiters’ Gazette, the co-op newspaper, serves as court reporter.

Such proceedings carry the mild title of “hearings.” Rhudi Andreolli, who stood accused in April of “extremely uncooperative behavior,” called it something else.

“It was a freaking trial,” she said.

Hey, socialism invariably leads to show trials, but some people need to learn that the hard way.

TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT:

DEBRA SAUNDERS:

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi rails against the GOP “culture of corruption.”

And in the most boneheaded political move of 2006, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., just handed her extra rope.

This has been a sorry year for congressional ethics. Cunningham pleaded guilty. Under indictment and with news reports linking him to Abramoff, Rep. Tom DeLay has announced his resignation. When he pleaded guilty, Abramoff implicated Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. Last month, Alan Mollohan, D-W.V., stepped down from the House ethics committee after The Wall Street Journal reported that he was under investigation for directing federal spending to nonprofits with which he has financial ties. So when the FBI raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., Hastert should have kept his head down and, for a change, let Pelosi do the squirming.

Instead, Hastert and Pelosi issued a joint statement demanding that the federal government return “the papers it unconstitutionally seized.” Bush responded by sealing the seized records for 45 days.

Be it noted that the FBI had a subpoena and the House raid followed a search of Jefferson’s home last August that netted $90,000 stashed in Jefferson’s freezer — money that allegedly came from a $100,000 bribe captured on videotape. The feds had tried to get Jefferson to honor the subpoena for months — but to no avail.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told The Washington Times, “Make no mistake, the American people will come to one conclusion — that congressional leaders are trying to protect their own from valid investigation.” That’s certainly how I see it.

Me too.

DISPATCHES FROM THE ONE PERCENT: Bernie Sanders thanks hedge fund manager Alan Grayson for endorsement. “Rep. Alan Grayson is under House Ethics Committee investigation for a hedge fund he ran that was located in the Cayman Islands, but with Hillary Clinton’s lead widening, Bernie Sanders will apparently take any endorsement he can get.”

Has anyone informed Bernie’s screaming Viking helmet guy fan about this latest multimillionaire bankster endorsement?

 

WHY ARE LEFTIST INSTITUTIONS SUCH HOTBEDS OF SEXUAL PREDATION? The Strange Case Of Anna Stubblefield:

When she arrived at the house on Memorial Day in 2011, Anna didn’t know what D.J. planned to do. His brother, Wesley, was working in the garden, so she went straight inside to speak with D.J. and his mother, P. They chatted for a while at the dining table about D.J.’s plans for school and for getting his own apartment. Then there was a lull in the conversation after Wesley came back in, and Anna took hold of D.J.’s hand. ‘‘We have something to tell you,’’ they announced at last. ‘‘We’re in love.’’

‘‘What do you mean, in love?’’ P. asked, the color draining from her face.

To Wesley, she looked pale and weak, like ‘‘Caesar when he found out that Brutus betrayed him.’’ He felt sick to his stomach. What made them so uncomfortable was not that Anna was 41 and D.J. was 30, or that Anna is white and D.J. is black, or even that Anna was married with two children while D.J. had never dated anyone. What made them so upset — what led to all the arguing that followed, and the criminal trial and million-­dollar civil suit — was the fact that Anna can speak and D.J. can’t; that she was a tenured professor of ethics at Rutgers University in Newark and D.J. has been declared by the state to have the mental capacity of a toddler.

To be fair, she seems not to be much beyond the toddler level herself:

Anna shared this interest in disabilities: As a high-school student, she studied Braille and learned the alphabet in sign language. But as a junior academic, she would apply the mandate of tikkun olam to a different focus — the fight for racial justice. Since getting her Ph.D. in 2000, she has become a prominent scholar in the field of Africana philosophy, has published widely on race and ethics and has served as the chairwoman of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Black Philosophers — the first and only white scholar ever to have done so. ‘‘Our world is in shambles,’’ she wrote in ‘‘Ethics Along the Color Line.’’ ‘‘White supremacy is central to this state of affairs, and we cannot repair the world without ending it.’’

Her own family is mixed-­race — she has two children with her ex-­husband, Roger Stubblefield, a black tuba player and classical composer. For 11 years, she served on the faculty at the Newark campus of Rutgers University, whose student body is among the nation’s most diverse. Yet for all her work on behalf of African-­Americans, she worried that she might be ambushed by the ‘‘habits of racism.’’ ‘‘Even in well-­intentioned quests to be antiracist,’’ she wrote, ‘‘white people all too often invade or destroy the space of nonwhite people.’’ The same essay lays out what could be a thesis statement for her whole career: It is crucial, she wrote, for white philosophers ‘‘to wrestle with the horrors and conundrums of whiteness.’’

To be fair, she certainly has managed to destroy the space of some nonwhite people here. Why are so many “social justice” crusaders crazy, with twisted sexual issues?

VOX: VOTE FOR HILLARY BECAUSE SHE’S “CLEARLY MORE COMFORTABLE THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON WITH VIOLATING NORMS AND OPERATING IN LEGAL GRAY AREAS:”

Occasionally a member of the chattering classes writes something that is not just wrong, that is not just irritating, but that is genuinely dangerous. Matthew Yglesias’s latest essay at Vox is just such a piece. Writes Yglesias:

From her adventures in cattle trading to chairing a policymaking committee in her husband’s White House to running for Senate in a state she’d never lived in to her effort to use superdelegates to overturn 2008 primary results to her email servers, [Hillary] Clinton is clearly more comfortable than the average person with violating norms and operating in legal gray areas.

This is, for him, a point in her favor:

Committed Democrats and liberal-leaning interest groups are facing a reality in which any policy gains they achieve are going to come through the profligate use of executive authority, and Clinton is almost uniquely suited to deliver the goods. More than almost anyone else around, she knows where the levers of power lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned.

Conclusion:

She truly is the perfect leader for America’s moment of permanent constitutional crisis: a person who cares more about results than process, who cares more about winning the battle than being well-liked, and a person who believes in asking what she can get away with rather than what would look best.

So Hillary’s ethics — or the lack thereof — are Vox-approved; that’s good to know. Or to put it another way:

yglesias_sophistry_8-10

Earlier: Politico’s “Glenn Thrush calls Hillary’s homebrew email system ‘badass.'”

Lord Acton, call your office.

WAR ON MEN: Media ignores accusation of sexual harassment in Congress.

Normally, an accusation of sexual harassment — especially harassment from a boss to an employee in our nation’s capital — would garner massive news coverage.

That is, unless the accuser is a young man and the accused is female superior.

So far Roll Call is the only major media outlet to report the case, focusing on a male accuser alleging harassment from his female chief of staff. The man, an anonymous user of the Capitol Hill social media app The Cloakroom, identifies himself as a 26-year-old male staffer and claims to have been harassed by his 40-year-old female chief of staff.

“She has slapped my ass, talked about her vibrator, and has asked me sexual questions,” the male user posted on the app. “I have ignored them but I am thinking about going to the member” — i.e., his boss.

The male accuser had shared his story on a day when several other users posted questions asking what to do if they were being sexually harassed. The male accuser was the only one that provided specific details of harassment. There were at least 30 responses in the thread, which were provided to the Washington Examiner by another user of the app. Many suggested the accusers document the harassment and report it to an appropriate ethics committee.

One user warned that if the harassment were reported the accusers would “need to accept that your career on the Hill will be over.” One user said they were also working in a “toxic office.” Another user made a comment suggesting the male accuser should be happy about being hit on by an older woman.

#Rapeculture.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D-PA) INDICTED FOR ALL SORTS OF POLITICAL CORRUPTION, REALLY. And note this:

Fattah’s office confirmed he has agreed to give up his leadership post on the Appropriations Committee, where he is the top Democrat overseeing criminal justice and science spending. He will be replaced by Mike Honda, D-Calif., who is currently the subject of an ethics probe.

At Front Page, Daniel Greenfield adds:

Fattah had garnered attention for demanding that Congress expunge the impeachment proceedings of Bill Clinton… and impeach Bush.

Chaka Fattah had joined Jesse Jackson Jr. on H. Res 635 to impeach Bush. Jackson was busted and went to prison. Now Chucklehead Fattah looks likely to join him. The bill was put forward by John Conyers whose wife went to jail for bribery.

Nothing to see here. Just more Democrats being Democrats.

Or as my friend Michael Walsh likes to say, “Think of the Democratic Party as what it really is: a criminal organization masquerading as a political party.”

RELATED:

chaka_fattah_valerie_jarett_7-29-15-1

FIRST THAT BOGUS GAY-MARRIAGE STUDY, now this Alice Goffman beat-down by Steven Lubet, in which he both suggests that her research is fraudulent and notes that she — seemingly without realizing it — admits to committing a felony in the course of conducting it.

I do not know if Goffman’s editors and dissertation committee held her to a journalist’s standard of fact checking. There is no footnote for the hospital incident in On the Run, and her dissertation is not available from the Princeton library. Alas, it is now too late to obtain any additional documentation, because Goffman shredded all of her field notes and disposed of her hard drive.

Who does she think she is? Hillary? But the felony part is worse — it’s conspiracy to commit murder.

A few days after the funeral, “the hunt was on to find the man who had killed Chuck,” whom the 6th Street Boys believed they could identify. Guns in hand, they drove around the city, looking for revenge. This time, Goffman did not merely take notes – on several nights, she volunteered to do the driving. . . .

Taking Goffman’s narrative at face value, one would have to conclude that her actions – driving around with an armed man, looking for somebody to kill – constituted conspiracy to commit murder under Pennsylvania law. In the language of the applicable statute, she agreed to aid another person “in the planning or commission” of a crime – in this case, murder. As with other “inchoate” crimes, the offense of conspiracy is completed simply by the agreement itself and the subsequent commission of a single “overt act” in furtherance of the crime, such as voluntarily driving the getaway car.

I sent the relevant paragraphs from On the Run to four current or former prosecutors with experience in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Their unanimous opinion was that Goffman had committed a felony. A former prosecutor from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office was typical of the group. “She’s flat out confessed to conspiring to commit murder and could be charged and convicted based on this account right now,” he said.

This seems a rather serious professional breach. Related: “The professor and the thug, entirely different lives, separated by the thinnest of margins.”

It’s a bad week for social science.

ARE ELECTED JUDGES POLITICIANS?:  According to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision yesterday in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, the answer is “no.”  The Court’s 5-4 split is itself worth noting:  Chief Justice John Roberts– in a classic move he made in the case upholding Obamacare, NFIB v. Sebelius–joined the Court’s four liberal Justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor) and wrote the majority opinion.  Eight Justices (all of them except Ginsburg) agreed that a Florida ban on judges soliciting campaign contributions was a presumptively unconstitutional violation of free speech under the First Amendment and subject to “strict scrutiny.”

Roberts’ majority concluded that banning judges’ solicitation of campaign contributions survived strict scrutiny because it furthered the compelling government interest in protecting judicial integrity and the public’s confidence therein, and was narrowly tailored to serve that interest. This integrity is essential, said the Roberts’ majority, because “judges are not politicians,” even when they are elected, and the public needs to have confidence that judges will decide cases impartially, without regard to who has given contributions to them.

But is this really true?  Judges in 39 states are elected in some manner.  In 30 of these states, elected judges are banned from soliciting direct campaign contributions.  In the Williams-Yulee case, for example, Ms. Williams-Yulee (who ran for a county court in Florida, but lost) sent out a mass mailing to potential supporters, signed it, and then posted the same letter on her website.  This triggered disciplinary proceedings by the Florida Bar, which resulted in her reprimand and payment of court costs of almost $2,000, which was affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court.

When we elect our judges, do we really think they aren’t politicians?  What is a “politician,” if not someone who is elected (and hence, politically accountable) to the people via elections?  I’m sure we all agree that judges (elected or not) should be impartial, and apply the law rather than make it up themselves.  But that aside, if we choose to elect our state judges (federal judges are constitutionally required to be appointed for life), doesn’t that mean that they are politicians, and that we want them to be politically accountable to us for their behavior while on the bench?

If elected judges are “politicians” in this sense, then why shouldn’t they have a robust First Amendment right to ask for campaign money, the same as elected members of the executive and legislative branches?  Indeed, under most states’ judicial solicitation bans, judges cannot even ask for campaign contributions from their own family members, though they can set up “campaign committees” that issue contribution solicitations indirectly.  They can even write personal “thank you” notes when such committees receive contributions.  As Adam Liptak observed in his New York Times summary, “Under Wednesday’s ruling, then, judicial candidates can say thank you, but they may not say please.”

Moreover, in most states, judicial candidates and judges can ask lawyers for other benefits, such as tickets to a football game, but they cannot ask for a $1.00 campaign donation.  These gaps and inconsistencies in judicial solicitation bans led Justice Samuel Alito to observe, in dissent, that Florida’s law was “about as narrowly tailored as a burlap bag.”

The four, dissenting conservative Justices in Williams-Yulee have a point:  The liberal Justices (plus Chief Justice Roberts) just don’t seem to like judicial elections very much, and seem to paternalistically justify protecting the “Brotherhood of the Robe” by claiming that citizens will somehow think elected judges raising money like other politicians will make them less partial than they otherwise would be.  Maybe this is because, when judges are elected, they tend to vote more conservatively.

Here in Florida, where our appellate judges are subject to retention elections, I assume simultaneously that judges are both “politicians” (politically accountable via elections) but also “impartial,” as the Code of Judicial Ethics requires them to be.  If I received a letter in the mail from some judge (or candidate) asking me for money, I would probably just chuckle and throw it in the trash.  If I gave money, it would be because I knew the person and believed him/her to be a good judge (or potential judge).  I certainly wouldn’t think I could “buy” a judge for the limited contribution allowed of $1,000- $3,000.

If contribution limits are accepted as an appropriate means for preventing members of the legislative and executive branches from being “bought,” then why aren’t they similarly accepted for elected judges?  According to the Williams-Yulee Court, it’s because judges are just “different.”  I don’t see how this distinction is supported by the First Amendment.

YEAH, THAT’S NOT EXACTLY BY ACCIDENT: Roll Call: Confusion Surrounds Conflict of Interest Cases in Congress.

Congressional investigators closed the 113th Congress with two reports touching on one of the murkiest subjects in the ethics manual: financial conflicts of interest.

Investing in companies tied to their home districts can help members understand the impact federal government decisions have on the private sector, but those ventures sometimes create a risk to their reputation.

“A congressman should zealously represent his constituents — he just can’t be one of them,” said Craig Engle, head of the political law group at Arent Fox LLP. He served as general counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee for five years, counseling candidates laws related to elections and holding office, before moving to private practice.

“If you really want to make money, be a businessman,” he said in an interview. “If you want to make a difference, be a congressman. But you can’t be both at the same time.”

House rules prohibit members from using their seats to build their personal fortunes. The Code of Ethics bars people in government service from dishing out special favors and privileges, or accepting special benefits that might influence their job performance.

Following tricky decisions related to corruption allegations against Democratic Reps. Shelley Berkley of Nevada and Maxine Waters of California, the House Ethics Committee acknowledged that the House needs clearer guidance on conflict of interest rules.

Uh huh.

IT’S PROBABLY WITH LOIS LERNER’S EMAILS: Poof: Casino ethics complaint against Reid disappears. “Nobody is saying ‘cover-up’ just yet, but an ethics complaint against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid received by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics nearly a year ago has mysteriously disappeared, and the panel claims it never received it despite a signed receipt.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Cuban Conspiracy Aside, Menendez Troubles Remain.

The best publicity Menendez has enjoyed all year arrived Monday, when the Washington Post reported on evidence the Cuban government may have fabricated and planted the lurid story that has smudged the senator’s reputation since just before his 2012 re-election bid. Menendez crowed to CNN Tuesday that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the regime in Havana had concocted the smear he had hired several underage Dominican prostitutes — because, he said, it “would do anything it can to stop me.”

What all the righteous indignation and melodramatic skullduggery obscures, however, is that Menendez continues to face questions about behavior that’s far more legally and politically problematic than the already substantially discredited tales about his cavorting at sex parties in the Caribbean.

For nearly two years, the Justice Department has been investigating whether Menendez illegally used his congressional office to benefit the business interests of his most generous donors, particularly Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen. The Senate Ethics Committee appears to have put its similar inquiry on hold in deference to the Feds.

If federal prosecutors end up alleging Menendez broke the law, that would be a much bigger deal for the already dismal ethical reputation of Congress — as well as for the Democratic Party and Latino community — than whether an antagonistic nation was able to make headway with an ambitious conspiracy to ruin an influential lawmaker.

A New Jersey Democrat, corrupt?

A SMALL VICTORY FOR TRANSPARENCY: Ethics Committee will reverse travel disclosure rule change. “House Ethics Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, Texas Republican, said Thursday the committee plans to reverse its controversial change to disclosure laws requiring lawmakers to report free trips on their public annual disclosure reports. . . . The news agency first reported the scandalous rule change earlier this week, revealing that the committee had made a closed-door decision to delete the requirement that lawmakers report their all-expenses paid travel, without any public announcement of the change.”

BRAD SMITH & DAVID KEATING, IN THE WALL ST. JOURNAL: Congress Abetted the IRS Targeting of Conservatives: We’ve filed a Senate ethics complaint against nine Senators who prodded the agency to silence opponents. “There is ample evidence that these efforts affected IRS policy, but the senators’ behavior is improper even if it did not. Senate rules require that the Ethics Committee take action. And we as citizens must make sure that the IRS is not abused by Democrats or Republicans for partisan electoral gain.”

The Senators named in the ethics complaint are Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, Carl Levin, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Al Franken, Jeanne Shaheen, Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall.

UPDATE: From the comments:

Every Dem senate and house candidate should be asked if they plan to sic the IRS on their political opponents.

If they say that doing so would be wrong, the followup question is whether they’d vote to censure the named senators.

Heh.

HOW CANCER RESEARCH SHOULD BE GOVERNED. “The ethics review system, implemented by research ethics committees (in Commonwealth countries) or institutional review boards (in the United States), was immediately successful, promoting subject safety and snuffing out unethical research. It deserves credit for this achievement. This benefit, however, comes at a dear price. Unethical cancer research has been curbed, but ethically sound cancer research must work in handcuffs.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Rep. Gutiérrez facing review from ethics panel.

The House Ethics Committee is looking into whether Rep. Luis Gutiérrez’s (D-Ill.) violated House rules.

The Ethics Committee did not specify the matter on Thursday, but USA Today has reported Gutiérrez continued to employ his former chief of staff Doug Scofield — now an Illinois lobbyist — as a paid contractor since 2003. Scofield had been paid more than $500,000, the newspaper reported, to train staff and write press releases, among other things.

Remember in 2006 when Nancy Pelosi promised to “drain the swamp?” Not so much, as it turns out.

BREAKING BAD WORSE: Massachusetts Pol Busted For Dealing Meth. He used to chair the Massachusetts Legislature’s Ethics Committee, which seems about right . . . .

JAMES BOVARD: A Brief History of IRS Political Targeting. “The IRS has usually done an excellent job of stifling investigations of its practices. A 1991 survey of 800 IRS executives and managers by the nonprofit Josephson Institute of Ethics revealed that three out of four respondents felt entitled to deceive or lie when testifying before a congressional committee. The agency also has a long history of seeking to intimidate congressional critics.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Menendez’s Ethics Problems Mean He Shouldn’t Chair Foreign Relations. “Instead of trying to protect Mr. Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, needs to remove his gavel, at least pending credible resolution by the Senate Ethics Committee of the swirling accusations of misconduct.” One assumes that there are behind the scenes talks about replacing him in the Senate. This may explain why David Axelrod has been so nice to Chris Christie on Twitter the last few days. . . .

MENENDEZ UPDATE: Menendez rushes to pay private-jet tab after FBI raid. “This comes at a particularly sensitive time, as Menendez is slated to take over for John Kerry as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Until last night, Menendez had insisted he did nothing wrong, but the sudden payment of $58,500 for private jet flights that took place almost three years ago makes it look as if there is more to the investigation than Menendez has admitted. If the Ethics Committee has begun to probe Menendez’ travel, perhaps Harry Reid should start considering a Plan B.”

Love the Absence of Malice reference. And the “Foreign Relations” punch lines write themselves.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Roll Call: Ethics Committee Finds Berkley Broke House Rules. “Outgoing Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., broke House rules, laws and standards of conduct related to conflicts of interest when members of her office assisted her husband’s medical practice with Veterans Affairs, Medicare and Medicaid claims, the House Ethics Committee announced late Thursday.”

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Maxine Waters To Become Senior Democrat on Financial Services Committee. “This is really an extraordinary development. ‘Flabbergasting’ might be a more apt word. Leave aside the recent ethics investigation over whether she used her position on the committee to help a bank her husband was involved with (which ended with her chief of staff getting reprimanded). Maxine Waters reliably delivers the craziest questions and the most bizarre speeches on that committee, and tends to demonstrate a stunning lack of grasp of the committee’s core subject matter.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: VA chief in Las Vegas questioned in Berkley ethics probe. “The top official for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Southern Nevada has been questioned by the House Ethics Committee in its investigation of allegations that Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., used her office to boost her husband’s medical practice.”

WATCHDOGS SAY WATERS PUSHED ETHICS LIMITS: The California Democrat hired her grandson, paid him well as her chief of staff. So House Ethics Committee reproves the grandson?

THE HILL: Ethics panel extends probe of Rep. Andrews. “The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced it has extended its investigation into Rep. Rob Andrews over allegations that the New Jersey Democrat misused campaign funds to take private family trips. The secretive panel also released a lengthy report from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) detailing the allegations, including charges that Andrews tapped tens-of-thousands of dollars in campaign funds to cover a 2011 trip to a wedding in Scotland, as well as multiple visits the same year to Los Angeles with his daughters.”

Remember when Nancy Pelosi was going on about a “culture of corruption,” and promising to “drain the swamp?” Yeah, me neither.

THE HILL: Ethics Committee launches probe of Dem Rep. Robert Andrews. “The articles allege the lawmaker used more than $9,000 in campaign funds to pay for a trip to Scotland with his wife and two children, and more than $10,000 to host a party at Andrews’ home celebrating his Congressional service and his daughter’s graduation. The paper also stated that Andrews’ campaign made a $12,500 donation to a local theater gala, in which his daughter was performing.”

ROLL CALL: House Ethics Committee to Probe Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV). “The House Ethics Committee said today it will investigate whether Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) broke any ethics rules or laws when she intervened to save a kidney transplant program at a hospital where her physician husband had a lucrative contract. . . . The New York Times, just days before the request was made, had published a story about how Berkley, over the past five years, had promoted legislation and urged regulators to act in ways that benefited both the transplant program and dialysis centers in the state. Berkley’s husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, is a nephrologist who has a more than $700,000-a-year contract with University Medical Center and a medical practice that owns dialysis centers.”

FIRST LINDSAY LOHAN, NOW HIM: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. takes medical leave of absence for exhaustion.


K
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is taking a medical leave of absence and undergoing treatment for exhaustion, his office said in a statement released Monday.

“He asks that you respect his family’s privacy,” the statement read. “His offices remain open to serve residents of the Second District.”

Jackson’s medical leave began on June 10, and it is unclear when the nine-term congressman hopes to return to Capitol Hill. Jackson was not in Washington for votes last week. Jackson is currently under a House Ethics Committee investigation for his role in former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempts to trade appointment to President Obama’s Senate seat for campaign donations. The son of the famed civil rights leader has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Sorry to hear that’s left him so tired.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Ethics committee recusals latest saga in bungled Waters investigation.

BYRON YORK: What Really Happened With The Gingrich Ethics Case? “The Gingrich case was extraordinarily complex, intensely partisan, and driven in no small way by a personal vendetta on the part of one of Gingrich’s former political opponents. It received saturation coverage in the press; a database search of major media outlets revealed more than 10,000 references to Gingrich’s ethics problems during the six months leading to his reprimand. It ended with a special counsel hired by the House Ethics Committee holding Gingrich to an astonishingly strict standard of behavior, after which Gingrich in essence pled guilty to two minor offenses. Afterwards, the case was referred to the Internal Revenue Service, which conducted an exhaustive investigation into the matter. And then, after it was all over and Gingrich was out of office, the IRS concluded that Gingrich did nothing wrong. After all the struggle, Gingrich was exonerated.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION (CONT’D): Four More “Friends of Angelo” in Congress. “With Congress about to wrap up its year-end business and head home for the holidays, there probably won’t be too much news made on Capitol Hill until next month. Why not conduct a whodunit instead? House Oversight chair Rep. Darrell Issa resurrected the Countrywide Financial influence-peddling scandal by informing the Ethics Committee that four current members received sweetheart deals on loans through the infamous Friends of Angelo program that sent former Senator Chris Dodd into retirement … perhaps to the Irish mansion he now owns.”

It’s a “cottage.” It just looks like a mansion to the untrained eye.

WASHINGTON POST REPORTER BRIEFING DEMOCRATS:

From JournoList to activist, it appears that WaPo‘s liberal blogger Ezra Klein is once again blurring the lines between being a journalist and trying to sway politics. In what appears to be at a minimum a breach of journalism ethics, Klein spoke to a group of Senate Democratic Chiefs of Staff last Friday about the Supercommittee, just days before the Committee announced its failing. “It was kind of weird,” said a longtime Senate Democratic aide, explaining that while people “enjoyed it” and gave it “positive reviews” this sort of thing is far from typical.

A longtime Washington editor who deals with Capitol Hill regularly also said this is not the norm: “I have never heard of a reporter briefing staffers. It’s supposed to be the other way around. This arrangement seems highly unusual.”

Or highly typical, in Ezra’s case. But hey, at least he hasn’t engaged in unauthorized re-tweeting. That might get the WaPo’s ombudsman on his case.

UPDATE: Maybe this is a case of “progressive flooding.”

THE HILL: Ethics Committee Votes To Launch Investigation Into Rep. Richardson. “The House Ethics Committee voted Thursday to launch an investigation into Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), according to a report. The committee is looking into whether the three-term lawmaker pressured her congressional staff to work on her campaign. . . . The news of the investigation comes at a tough time for Richardson, who faces a difficult reelection battle next year. The redistricting process paired her against Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn, who replaced Jane Harman earlier this year after Harman resigned. Democrat state Assemblyman Isadore Hall is also expected to run in the primary.”

MICKEY KAUS: Weiner And The Ethics Committee Gambit.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Federal examiners protested help for politically connected bank, e-mails show.

A decision in late 2008 by top officials of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to help a politically connected bank in Boston left federal bank examiners there angry enough that some called it a “travesty of justice,” according to internal e-mails obtained by The Washington Post.

The chairman of OneUnited Bank, a friend of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), had rendered it insolvent through lavish spending and bad investments, according to the examiners’ written accounts. But by the end of that year, after Waters arranged a key Treasury Department meeting for the bank, it had won a bailout loan and a unique exemption from the FDIC’s accounting rules. . . . The claim that OneUnited benefited from assistance organized by Waters — whose husband held substantial stock in it — lies at the heart of unresolved House Ethics Committee charges.

I’m sure the Justice Department will be right on this.

POLITICO: A Laura Richardson Ethics Probe: “A letter of resignation sent by a former staffer to Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Cali.) appears to indicate that ethics investigators are probing the Los Angeles-area Congresswoman — a fact Richardson has denied to local reporters. . . . This is not the first time that Rep. Richardson has faced ethics questions in her short tenure in Congress. The ethics committee investigated her in 2009 on charges revolving around her foreclosed Sacramento home. Richardson was later cleared of any wrongdoing.”

Some background on that foreclosure scandal here. The country’s in the very best of hands.

ETHICS: Conflict of interests for ranking Democrat on House Ethics Committee. “Linda Sanchez became the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee after the departure of former chair Zoe Lofgren last week, and therefore helps control the actions of the evenly-split panel. That creates a conflict of interest in the committee’s most high-profile case, that of Maxine Waters, whose legal counsel is related to Sanchez’ chief of staff — and who represented Sanchez and her sister in an earlier ethics probe.”

CHANGE: Rangel In Hot Water Over Tapping His PAC For Cash. “Congressman Charles Rangel, whose ethics trial starts tomorrow, appears to have improperly used political-action committee money to pay for his defense. Rangel tapped his National Leadership PAC for $293,000 to pay his main legal-defense team this year. He took another $100,000 from the PAC in 2009 to pay lawyer Lanny Davis. Two legal experts told The Post such spending is against House rules.” Luckily for him, the ethics trial is taking place while Dems have a lame-duck majority. Unless, you know, this revelation causes things to be put off for further investigation.

THE BARNEY FRANK PRIVATE JET STORY ISN’T FADING AWAY.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s GOP challenger is calling on the congressman to release an ethics opinion that Frank says cleared his trip to the Virgin Islands aboard a $25 million private jet owned by a billionaire hedge fund manager.

“Frank should release the opinion from the Ethics Committee so we know exactly what Frank was claiming,” said Sean Bielat, the Newton Democrat’s Republican opponent. “If he did not disclose all the gifts or undervalued them, he could be in violation of House ethics laws.”

The Herald reported this week that Frank and his partner, Jim Ready, made the tropical getaway just before Christmas 2009 on a jet owned by financier S. Donald Sussman, fiance of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). In addition to flying from Maine to the Virgin Islands with Sussman and Pingree, Frank and Ready stayed in Sussman’s mansion on the island, an aide told the Herald.

Frank reported the jet ride as a gift in required House financial disclosures – claiming the cost of the flight was $1,500 – but reported no other expenses related to the vacation. Aviation experts say the cost of flying a private jet between Maine and the Virgin Islands would cost as much as $30,000 each way.

House Ethics rules aren’t exactly stringent — but I don’t want to hear one goddamned word about my freaking carbon footprint from Barney Frank, or his cronies.

Including his crony Nancy Pelosi: New documents uncovered by Judicial Watch show Pelosi took 85 trips on military aircraft.

MAXINE WATERS UPDATE: OneUnited received more preferential treatment than first disclosed. “Maxine Waters and the Democrats may have thought that all of the bad news from her intervention with OneUnited bank had already been aired, but the Washington Post reports that the House Ethics Committee only scratched the surface. Far from a single intervention by Waters, the record shows an unprecedented effort conducted by Congress, Treasury, and its regulators to rescue the bank in which Waters’ husband had invested a significant amount of money. In 707 applications of TARP money, OneUnited got the most special attention.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: The Hill: Watchdogs not sure Johnson will face ethics probe over scholarship scandal. “Watchdogs are divided over whether the ethics committee should immediately investigate Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). Johnson has been accused of awarding thousands of dollars in college scholarships to four relatives as well as the child of a top aide over the past 5 years. Johnson reportedly used Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation funds to dole out the scholarships, even though the recipients were ineligible under the nonprofit’s rules, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News.”

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Maxine Waters Charged On Three Ethics Counts. “Waters is accused of using her position to help secure Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds for OneUnited Bank, in which her husband, a former bank board member, owned a sizable amount of stock.”

UPDATE: Maxine Waters Influenced $12 Million Bail-Out For Bank In Which She Had Business Interest.

CHANGE: House Ethics Committee announces charges against Maxine Waters.

THIRD HOUSE DEMOCRAT CALLS FOR RANGEL TO RESIGN. “It’s not quite a chorus, but it’s become at least a three-part harmony. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) joined Betty Sutton (D-OH) and Walt Minnick (D-ID) in demanding that Charlie Rangel resign from office in disgrace. Murphy’s statement came after the House Ethics Committee produced 13 charges of unethical behavior by the New York Democrat and former Ways and Means chair.”

CHARLIE RANGEL’S FADING FRIENDS: “Just one day after learning that he will face a House Ethics Committee trial on multiple ethics allegations, it looks like Rep. Charlie Rangel is starting to turn toxic for fellow Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — who’ve been among Rangel’s staunchest defenders during the committee’s two-year probe — issued terse statements conspicuously lacking in political support.”

THE HILL: EXCLUSIVE: House Democrat calls on Rep. Charles Rangel to resign. “In a major development, Rep. Betty Sutton (Ohio) on Friday night called on beleaguered Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to resign. Sutton’s statement comes one day after the House ethics committee charged the 80-year-old Democrat with multiple violations.”

THE HILL: Sen. Bennett agrees to help Ethics panel in probe of Countrywide mortgages. “Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) has agreed to assist the Senate Ethics Committee in a potential investigation of his staffers participation in a controversial VIP mortgage lending program at Countrywide Financial Corp. Senators or Senate employees received 30 Countrywide loans that offered sweetheart deals or special treatment, according to a letter Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent to Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).” Sounds like the Utah Tea Party’s aim was true, here.

HEH: So, did you hear the one about U.S. politicians lecturing Afghans on corruption? “This is the upside-down red-blooded American political institution where folks have stored $90,000 in cash in their food freezers. Doesn’t everyone? Where phone calls from substantial political donors get passed right on through to the elected member while ordinary citizens can leave a message. Where members on banking committees can acquire below-market mortgage rates from private companies and successfully claim ignorance of the going rates. Where members live rent-free for years in apartments owned by advisers to giant corporations allegedly regulated by the federal government. Where members vote themselves automatic pay raises years in advance to avoid publicly discussing such awkward details so often. Where a so-called ethics committee takes how many years to figure out if not reporting all of your income is cause for member discipline.”

CHARLES RANGEL: Wall Street Like Al Qaeda. Nuance.

UPDATE: Related: Politico: Probe Timing Could Seal Rangel’s Fate. “If the ethics committee releases a damaging report on Rangel before the Sept. 14 primary, it could be a death blow to the Harlem congressman’s storied career and open the door to a serious Democratic challenge, Democratic colleagues and party strategists said. But if the ethics committee’s findings come out after the primary, Rangel will very likely survive and win a 21st term in the House. Still, that timing would raise questions about the ethics committee’s process and whether the investigative panel was too aware of the political calendar.” Gee, do you think?

WATCHDOGS WITHOUT BITE: “After a 14-month investigation, the Senate ethics committee decided it was OK that corrupt Sen. Christopher Dodd took sweetheart mortgages from Countrywide Financial, despite his role as a congressional overseer of the nation’s lenders. The committee accepted his implausible explanations because the ethics code is a massive gray area, intentionally so. The code mostly exists to give the public the impression senators are serious about weeding out corruption. They are not.”

ANOTHER ONE: Massa will resign, his office confirms. “The pending resignation will feed a developing narrative in D.C., amid this and the Charlie Rangel mess: That Dems, after taking power in 2006 by running against GOP corruption, are sinking into the same ethics swamp they had vowed to drain.”

UPDATE: Reader Jed Skillman speculates:

Just as we are wondering if that Utah Democratic congressman’s brother was given a lifetime federal judgeship in consideration of support for the healthcare bill, what are the odds that Democratic Congressman Massa’s sexual tendencies were made public to punish him for voting “no”? Barney Frank has done worse and he’s a committee chairman. Could this be the kind of persuasion the White House or Congressional leadership is using?

You’re a lawyer, Glenn. What is the legal term for using a threat of public exposure to extort something?

Could there be a pattern of this sort of thing emerging?

I don’t know. Perhaps some investigative journalists will look into it.

MOST ETHICAL CONGRESS EVAH! Ethics committee investigating Massa’s alleged advances toward staffer. “Paterson, Rangel, now this guy: I do believe there’s a narrative a-brewin’.”

POLITICO: Report: Nearly 100 misconduct allegations in 2009. “Nearly 100 allegations of senatorial misconduct were made in 2009, and 13 preliminary investigations over potential breaches of Senate ethics rules were launched, according to a report issued Friday by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.” Roughly one per Senator.

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND: AlfonZo Rachel reports from Boston. And likes it so much, he does it again.

Scott Brown’s rally in Worcester.

Your Homeland Security tax dollars at work.

Lady Gaga Barbie. (Not as cool as SpongeBob Barbie).

I defend President Obama over Haiti relief complaints. Plus, the importance of disaster preparedness.

Anti-ObamaCare rallies in Troy, Michigan and Racine, Wisconsin.

Peter Orszag and responsible fatherhood.

Taking a gold in the Dumb Vice-Principal Olympics.

So that 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was a miserable sham, or something.

It’s okay to lock up innocent people if your politics are correct.

Sanjay Gupta is a hero. The Belgians, not so much.

More on the Visclosky / PMA scandal.

THE HILL: Ethics committee probing Visclosky, Tiahrt for ties to PMA lobbying firm. “The House ethics committee is examining Reps. Peter Visclosky’s (D-Ind.) and Todd Tiahrt’s (R-Kansas) ties to PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm that was raided by the FBI last year. The ethics panel Friday announced that it has extended a review of Visclosky’s and Tiahrt’s activities for 45 more days after an initial probe that began Dec. 2. The committee said it will announce its “course of action” by March. 2.”

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES ON Chris Dodd’s poor personal decisions. “Far more troubling was Dodd’s relationship with mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, which appears to have given him a sweetheart deal on a pair of loans under a VIP program called “Friends of Angelo,” named for former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Though Dodd was cleared of wrongdoing by the Senate Ethics Committee, he should have known better than to accept special terms from a company whose regulation he oversaw. And then there was Dodd’s cottage in Ireland.”

UPDATE: A reader notes that the L.A. Times waited until Dodd withdrew and the seat looked safe for the Dems to level this criticism. I think that’s right — at least, I don’t remember any LAT editorials condemning Dodd earlier. Did I miss something?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Kevin Murphy notes:

The LA Times editorial ends, however, with an incredible falsehood:

“This failure to properly account for what looks very much like a gift from a wealthy acquaintance is similar to the shenanigans that ended the political career of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.”

IIRC, the “shenanigans” that ended Stevens’ career were those of the federal prosecutors.

Good point.

BACKDOWN? TSA drops subpoenas issued to bloggers who published security directive.

Well, it was getting a lot of bad publicity. And, as I’ve suggested before, bullying bloggers is a bad bet. But, from the comments at BoingBoing, “As a forensic computer examiner, I’m now wondering what they did with the forensic images that they made of these guy’s computers.”

Meanwhile, all bloggers should get one of these! That said, I’m a bit torn. I don’t believe in “shield laws” that would let journalists avoid subpoenas or testimony because of their profession; if such should exist, they should include bloggers but I’d rather they didn’t. This, however, looked more like bullying than a legitimate inquiry. It will backfire, of course, as bloggers will no doubt pay more attention to the TSA’s doings as a result. Maybe that’s punishment enough . . . .

UPDATE: From the comments at BoingBoing:

Speaking as an attorney, I would advise you not to let this go. Make an ethics complaint against the government attorney that signed the subpoena in DC or the jurisdiction they are licensed to practice law in. You don’t subpoena someone, then just “let it drop.”

They will be forced to: (1) admit there was no basis for the subpoena, in the first place, (2) make a dubious “national security” claim as to why they can’t discuss, which will dog them for their entire career, or (3) admit that they made a forensic scan of a citizen’s computer and used the evidence to pursue a whistleblower, after having used a subpoena to strongarm a citizen (again, something that will arise again ten years later during his Senate confirmation hearing for another position).

Long story short, government drones who use their subpoena power to bully citizens blowing the whistle on government incompetence deserve to be held to account. Do not back down, an ethics complaint is very low cost, and very high reward.

In general, ethics complaints are a good response to legal bullying. Much of what lawyers do in their bully capacity is questionable under the ethics rules — one of my colleagues who teaches legal ethics was commenting to me a while back that he was surprised how seldom people file complaints on unethical behavior in IP cases — and though bar ethics committees are often less than diligent, dealing with this stuff is a hassle.

JOHN FUND: Invasion Of The Election Snatchers: Urban Democrats are flooding rural districts to steal elections.

As long as they’re not lying about where their principal residence is located. . . .

ETHICS COMMITTEE launches investigation of Pete Stark.