Jan. 3rd, 2017

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Accountability Post Trump Year 0 Jan 3

So today is actually a bit of a success story.

This morning I awoke to the news that the House Republicans had had a secret vote (is that even legal? Why is that legal?) in a Republicans-only meeting to hamstring the Office of Congressional Ethics.

To oversimplify a little, the House Ethics Committee has long been a way for lawmakers, and particularly lawmakers belonging to the party in power, to sweep their ethical transgressions under the rug. In 2008, after the Abramov scandal, the Office of Congressional Ethics was put in place as an independent non-partisan ethics watchdog.

House members who had come under investigation for shady practices seized the opportunity provided by the recent shift in power to propose chaining the watchdog to the pleasure of the House Ethics Committee. New rules would have renamed it (the least of the issues, really; I don't understand why they would even bother,) prevented it from investigating based on anonymous tips (in other words made it possible for Congressmen to retaliate against whistleblowers,) and prevented it from revealing the results of its investigation to anyone outside the House Ethics Committee (so if the House Ethics Committee decided to sweep things under the rug, the Office of Congressional Ethics wouldn't be allowed to tell anyone about the wrongdoing they had discovered.)

They had carried out the vote last night, and included the change in a packet of rules for how the House was to be run that were going to be voted on THIS AFTERNOON, so when I saw this this morning, I didn't have much time.

I promptly called my Representative at his local office. The person there tried to refer me to the DC office but that would have required waiting until 8:30am and I had (I thought) Library Music at 9, and wasn't sure I could leave in time if I had to wait until 8, so I left a message for him to pass on.

It turned out that the Library was closed today (I had forgotten) so I came home, did a little more researching, and called back to be referred to the DC office, where I pointed out that this looked very bad, ethics wise and that as one of Representative Duncan's constituents I expected him to vote the rules package down until the Office of Congressional Ethics provision was removed.

This afternoon I hear that the storm of comment has cowed the Republicans into backing down and everyone who can gracefully do it is now disavowing the idea.

I understand Trump saw the parade go by and ran out and joined it--that does not mean he gets the credit for this reversal. Taking credit for things he had no hand in is a Trump specialty but I don't plan to help him with that.

The people who wrote the articles, the people who shared them to social media, where I and countless other constituents like me saw them, the people like me who overcame their dislike of the phone to pick it up and call our Representatives because this was important, dammit--we are the ones who deserve the credit.

And I for one plan to bask a little tonight.


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