Zero Tolerance? Not So Much.
After a well-publicized series of ethics scandals helped lead to Republicans losing the House of Representatives in 2006, newly-minted Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously promised to “drain the swamp” and then Democrats instituted a series of ethics reforms to clean up Congress.
When Republicans regained control of the House in the 2010 election, they promised a “zero tolerance” policy when it came to ethics problems.
Things haven’t exactly worked out as promised. ThinkProgress’ Josh Israel has the rundown.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in 2010:
I think as the Republicans emerge as a new governing majority, it is incumbent upon us to institute a zero-tolerance policy. We understand there were reasons for our being fired in ’06 and ’08. Some of that had to do with ethics violations. I mean we had several members under public investigations during the time of the ’06 elections. I think we’ve learned that that’s not a good way to gain the confidence of the people and that we ought to be instituting a zero-tolerance policy here.
“We’ve learned our lesson,” Cantor told the National Review Online, “We cannot tolerate any ethics violations or behavior, in terms of compromising the ethics that the people expect us to have as their representatives.”
So, how are they doing?
- Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), finance vice chair for the National Republican Congressional Committee (the House GOP’s campaign arm), is reportedly under federal grand jury investigation for alleged reimbursement of campaign donors by his companies, improper tax deductions, inaccurate Congressional disclosure reports.
- Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), (R-AL) continues to chair financial services despite an ongoing investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for alleged insider trading.
- Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), continues to chair the House Armed Services, despite reports that Congressional investigators allege he got a special cut-rate on his Countrywide home loan.
- Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), continues to chair the House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee, despite reports that Congressionalinvestigators allege he got a special cut-rate on his Countrywide home loan.
- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), continues to chair the House Rules Committee’s Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, despite reports that Congressionalinvestigators allege he got a special cut-rate on his Countrywide home loan.
- Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) continues to serve, despite ongoing Federal Election Commission and House Ethics Committee investigations into reports that he engaged inillegal campaign fundraising.
- Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) continues to serve despite reported IRS and FBI investigations into alleged tax evasion and failure to disclose $132,000 in “loans” from a company co-owned by his mother.
- Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) continues to serve despite a reported $117,000 in unpaid child support payments.
- According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Reps. Ken Calvert (R-CA), Gary Miller (R-CA), and Tim Murphy (R-PA) have also been under investigation over the past two years for ethical issues, yet all three continue to serve.
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