Thursday, April 20, 2006

Another Story Of Republican Inactivity On Ethics

Well folks it's another day and another story of Republican inaction on ethics:

Doc Hastings may be the luckiest man in America. Or at least the luckiest in politics.

Each time the chairman of the House ethics committee has been pressured to do something — perhaps investigate Reps. Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, William Jefferson, or even Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who is heading to prison — a minimiracle has taken Hastings off the hook.

The Republican from Pasco took over the ethics committee last year, when GOP leaders dumped then-chairman Joel Hefley of Colorado.

Hefley's sin: The ethics panel formally rebuked DeLay, R-Texas, then powerful majority leader, three times over fundraising questions and political tactics. Hastings, an ally of DeLay and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, got the ethics job.

The implication, widely reported, was that if Hastings held down the fort on ethics, he eventually might get the job he covets: chairmanship of the House Rules Committee.

But Hastings' committee has stalled over the past 15 months. There's been a pileup of potential cases at his door: bribery allegations about Jefferson, D-La., and new questions touching on DeLay and Ney, R-Ohio, in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, outlined in court papers.

Meanwhile, Cunningham, R-Calif., has pleaded guilty in federal court to corruption charges.

But the only politician Hastings' committee is investigating is Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., over a 9-year-old incident involving an illegally taped phone call that he leaked to the media.

Since 2005, newspaper editorials have denounced Hastings & Co. for "nap time" on the "do-nothing" "feckless" and "inert" ethics committee, accusing it of "flatlining" and "ossifying."

Unmoved, Hastings hasn't responded to the criticism. But he is papering the press about such issues as asparagus growers, the apple industry and Northwest wineries.

He weighed in supporting Hanford's nuclear-waste cleanup. But he has been careful not to rile the White House or Energy Department, which don't want to pay for some of the more controversial waste problems at Hanford.

Even GOP members have questioned the ethics committee's credibility recently. A frustrated Republican proposed a congressional inspector general to look into ethics issues, saying the committee is paralyzed.

Then, DeLay two weeks ago suddenly announced his resignation from Congress. Hastings could quietly scratch DeLay off his "to-do" list.

Just as suddenly, however, court filings in the Abramoff case ratcheted up pressure on Hastings to look at Ney.

Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee, demanded action from Hastings and GOP ethics members. Tart letters were exchanged.

The Wall Street Journal then reported that Mollohan himself is under federal review for his ties to nonprofits back home. Hastings escaped the pressure again.

Hastings might agree he is charmed, if he were talking. But he declined. In 11 years in Congress, he has held one news conference in D.C.

John Boehner (who has said he is against ethics) and the Republicans' failures on ethics are more visable with each passing day.

They simply have failed the American people.

I am confident that Senator Ford and the new Democratic majority will remedy those failures starting in 2007!

Read about Congressman Ford's actions on ethics reform here! (1 , 2, 3)

Read about John Boehner's views opposing ethics reform here!

Read about John Boehner's broken promises regarding ethics reform here!