Totally Revamp the Ethics Committees and the Office of Compliance
A Washington Post report implying imminent government reform begins:
The House Ethics Committee said Monday it is reviewing charges lodged against two high-profile Democratic lawmakers and a senior Democratic aide.
The lawmakers facing an ethics review are Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and the longest-serving sitting House member, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The staffer is Michael E. Collins, chief of staff to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
Problem is the Monday they're referring to is Monday, June 26, 2017 -- the date of the article. Anyone looking for results from the committee would have had a long, probably interminable, wait.
John Conyers, as most know, did finally resign from his position as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee on Nov 26, 2017, a full five months later. But this partial resignation was not through any action whatsoever of the so-called Ethics Committee that was supposedly investigating him. It came from very believable charges of sexual predation and the consequent use of taxpayer funds to buy off his accuser that appeared in The Detroit News.
What former Conyers employee Melanie Sloan said is undeniable:
"The House Ethics Committee has never been known for taking a tough stance for unethical conduct by any member of Congress," Sloan said on Fox News's "Outnumbered Overtime."
"It’s often just a black hole where allegations go to die, we never hear about them again," she continued.
I'd replace the "often" with a "usually" or an "almost always." The Ethics Committees -- in the House and the Senate -- seem to function more as fronts for the preservation of the political class, irrespective of party. Once you're in, you're protected. Omertà rules.
Conyers, whose corruption on various counts was rumored and indeed written about for years, was as shielded by the committee and Congress as Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Bill O'Reilly were by their networks. But we don't pay taxes to those networks, not directly anyway, and we don't have to watch them. And those men have at least finally lost their jobs.
Many accused politicians -- Conyers, Franken -- are still in place, their activities "to be investigated" by this same Ethics Committee that has, in essence, investigated no one. Yes, of course, everyone deserves due process, but what we are talking about here is a protection racket that has been going on for years. And the Ethics Committees are not alone in this reprehensible endeavor. The so-called Office of Compliance (how Orwellian) is their co-enabler by providing what sounds suspiciously like hush money.
From 1997 to 2017, the Office of Compliance awarded 268 settlements totaling $17.2 million stemming from sexual harassment complaints and other workplace violations, including provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.