Two members of the House Ethics Committee have recused themselves from the investigation of Majority Leader Tom DeLay because they contributed to his legal defense fund. Three others who received money from DeLay, however, remain. The Washington Post editorial page weighs in on the controversy:
It’s a system that calls on lawmakers to pass judgment on other lawmakers; to disqualify recipients of campaign contributions would make the process dysfunctional in the case of congressional leaders.
Let’s not fool ourselves: the House ethics process is dysfunctional in the case of congressional leaders precisely because of the inevitable financial conflict of interests. That’s why former speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and former speaker Jim Wright (D-WA) were subject to independent investigations when they had ethics problems. Why should Tom DeLay be any different?