House’s attempt to gut ethics office exposes ‘swampy’ motives

When Donald Trump was on the campaign trail, one of his campaign promises was to “drain the swamp” in Washington.

It looks like he might want to start in his own house—that is, the House of Representatives.

Republicans met prior to the start of the 115th Congress this week and voted, over the objections of their leaders, to curtail an independent ethics office created in 2008 to keep elected members of the legislative branch on the straight and narrow. Instead, it would have the independent office report to the House Ethics Committee, which hasn’t done much to investigate members who have been suspected of shenanigans.

In essence, the GOP wanted the lunatics to run the asylum. I can’t count the ways that could have gone wrong.


Rep. Bob Goodlatte was the sponsor of the effort to defang an independent ethics watchdog and put it under the supervision of some of the politicians it could be investigating. (Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

To do this at all is shocking, but to do it on the eve of what Republicans have described as a brand new day of America with no warning was just absurd. If there are concerns about whether the ethics office is doing enough or treating people fairly, have both sides—Republicans and Democrats—weigh in on the issue. Instead, Republicans thumbed their noses at liberals and even members of their own party as they voted Monday to move forward with the hostile takeover.


For a few hours Tuesday, it looked like the new definition of draining the swamp was to open the flood gates for more water to fill the bog. Then, our president-elect managed to convince the Congressional buffoons to get serious with a sharp-tongued tweet. Here’s what he had to say:

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS”

I didn’t vote for Trump, and I’m not sure he’ll do a good job once he’s in the Oval Office, but even hardcore liberals had to have looked at the tweet, and the emergency House GOP meeting that followed to reverse course, and think “Well done!”

It’s hard to say whether the effort would have ultimately succeeded, considering the vote Monday was 119-74. Not exactly a ringing endorsement from the Grand Old Party, and if the 74 nay votes joined forces with the Democrats, it’s a safe bet the motion would go down in flames, leaving the GOP with egg on its face and making Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia look like the worst-cooked omelet in the world.

It’s a sad commentary when the party that vows to make America great again tries to pull such shady business. The only thing missing was a Republican twirling his handlebar mustache while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was tied to the train tracks.

Trump has the right idea when he says there are more important things for Congress to examine. Fixing healthcare would be a good start, as would figuring out how to grow jobs in America.

Looking back at Trump’s tweet, I’m not sure if it was a first strike to “drain the swamp,” but it’s safe to say he cracked the whip.


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