House Ethics Can’t Report Crimes, Even If Lawmaker’s ‘Raping Children’ (DETAILS)


You think it’s bad that House Republicans took a secret vote to defang the Office of Congressional Ethics and replace it with a toothless “Office of Complaint Review?” Or that the shriveled remains of the House’s formerly independent ethics office will now be run by the GOP-controlled House Ethics Committee?

As it turns out, this fustercluck is even worse than you thought. On Tuesday, Ryan Grime from the Huffington Post dug up a nasty little provision he found buried deep within the dense middens of legalese referred to as “Amendment to H. Res. 7 offered by Mr. Goodlatte of Virginia.” (Virginia’s GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the House Judiciary Committee Chair, is the main force behind this disaster.)

Even if a member of Congress is suspected of committing a crime, members of the smoking cremains of what was once the Office of Congressional Ethics have to report it to the GOP-controlled House Ethics Committee instead of calling the police! The rules state:

‘If at any time the board of the Office discovers information indicating that a matter which is the subject of a review by the board may involve a violation of a criminal law, the Board will immediately refer the matter to the Committee on Ethics for further review. Nothing in the previous sentence may be construed to authorize the Board to refer any matter directly to law enforcement.’

That’s right. As the self-described Democratic digital strategist, AmericaBlog editor, and LGBT advocate John Aravosis sums up in a succinct tweet.

Even if someone from the House Ethics Office has concrete evidence that a member of Congress is committing a heinous crime — like raping children — they’re not allowed to call the cops.

This new measure is so bad, even House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) opposes it. The Washington Post reports:

‘House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opposed the amendment to the House rules package, speaking out against it in the Monday evening conference meeting, according to two people in the room.’

Donald Trump also tweeted that he wants House Republicans to focus on more pressing issues, like handing tax cuts to the rich and taking away our health insurance..

In his statement, Rep. Bob Goodlatte insists the Office of Congressional Ethics will remain effective but will protect members of Congress from “overreach,” which is GOP-speak for “being investigated.”

‘The Goodlatte amendment builds upon and strengthens the existing OCE by maintaining its primary area of focus – accepting and reviewing constituent complaints – while improving upon due process rights for individuals under investigation, as well as witnesses called to testify.’

A report from CBS reminds us that House Democrats created the committee in 2008, in the wake of an investigation of Capitol Hill lobbyist Jack Abramoff that led to his conviction. Since then, both Democrats and Republican members of Congress have gotten snared in OCE investigations.

Given House Republicans’ bizarre and downright frightening views and statements on rape in the past, protecting them from future House investigations might be a good idea. But luckily, clearer heads prevailed and House Republicans backed out of this potentially disastrous plan on Tuesday afternoon.

Watch: CBS reports on House Republicans’ stunning vote to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Featured image: Urgurhan Betin via Getty Images.