On Monday, House Republicans meeting in secret voted to eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics. A swift, bipartisan outcry followed, and on Tuesday President-Elect Donald Trump added his voice to those opposing the elimination of the office, albeit in a backhanded way: “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,” Trump tweeted. By early afternoon today, House Republicans were reversing course. Matt Carlucci, chairman of the Florida Commission on Ethics, distributed the following statement to media outlets around the state.
By Matt Carlucci
I have been reading in dismay about Monday’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on changes to the Office of Congressional Ethics. These changes will potentially have the impact of eliminating investigations and reviews of unethical behavior by those holding office on the federal level. As a matter of fact, because this proposal has been moved so quickly, this letter may be published after a vote has been taken or while being further considered.
Regardless, I want to express my opinion on this very important matter.
To be very clear, although I write in opposition to this proposal while chairing the Florida Commission on Ethics, this opinion belongs to me and not the Commission as a whole, as the Florida Commission on Ethics has not taken a stand or vote on this matter. This is important for me to make clear. It is also important to me to know there may be times to speak up as an individual and even as the Chairman on issues I believe to be important.
This I do know: if the Florida Commission on Ethics did not exist, with its powers of investigation, adjudication, and ever-present deterrence, thousands of ethical violations and trespasses of good government would have occurred, continuing to diminish what little trust the people have left in government. So on the federal level, where elected members of Congress do their work farther away from home, an independent Office of Congressional Ethics is more important than ever.
In addition, the optics of this could not be worse. Everyone wants more transparency in government, and less meeting behind closed doors. So, I felt compelled to offer my sole opinion of this tragic proposal.
Ethics is non partisan. Violation of ethical standards happen to members of both parties, so this is not a partisan issue. To me, Matt Carlucci, it’s an issue of right and wrong. As in the Christmas carol, “I heard the bells on Christmas day,” one of its verses “rings” true to me in this case: “The wrong shall fail and the right prevail.” The good news is there are leaders in Congress from both sides of the aisle who oppose the weakening of the federal ethics watchdog. Perhaps find out who they are and give a call of encouragement.
Matt Carlucci, an insurer and former member of the Jacksonville City Council, is chairman of the Florida Commission on Ethics, to which Gov. Rick Scott appointed him in 2012.
The Ghost of America says
Eh, that’s OK. The people voted for Rick Scott, the people voted for Staley, the people voted for trump. Who cares about ethics?
They can’t be worth a damn to not find anything wrong with what Hillary and others have done for years. They apparently are as useless as the Florida Ethics Commission. Looking at the states annual report on line raises a big red flag…..a terrible waste of our tax money with little results.
All of the Congressmen and women who were involved in this secret vote should be the first to be investigated for ethics violations. They should also be held accountable by their constituents in the next election. I would like to see a list of who was involved in trying to get this passed.
Please, get educated, and do try and understand that it was the Republicans in the “House of Representatives” in Congress who “secretly” voted to gut the “independent” Office of Congressional Ethics:
The OCE is an independent, non-partisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against Members, officers, and employees of the House of Representatives, and referring matters to the House Committee on Ethics when the OCE Board determines such review is warranted. Members of the OCE’s eight-person Board of Directors must authorize each stage of the OCE investigative process and ultimately decide whether to recommend that the House Committee on Ethics review a matter or dismiss it. Board members are private citizens, cannot work as lobbyists or be employed by the federal government and must agree not to run for federal office.
Since “Senator” Clinton was not in the “House of Representatives”. . . she has absolutely NOTHING to do with this issue! Bashing her over and over again is nothing short of completely idiotic!
Right On PCer!
Rather than trying to get rid of ethic committees, we should all support making them stronger. . . putting teeth into their enforcement! Believing that those with such power will automatically always turn down “bribes” (AKA favors from lobbyist and big contributors) that are offered to them each and every day is ridiculous!
This vote was the opposite of “draining the swamp”. . . doing away with ethics just makes the “swamp” sweeter and more powerful!
On top of this, we need to make sure the investigation into Trump’s MASSIVE unethical “conflicts of interests” is started right away. . . and to keep that investigation from sabotaged in a similar fashion!
VIGILANCE! The Obstructionist Republican Congress IS the “Swamp”. . . with an approval rating of only 14.5%! While President Obama has a 53.6% approval rating! Both numbers are the latest from the polls at Realclearpolitics.
South Florida says
I agree on keeping the ethics committee. Im planning on writing them myself. I know they will do something.