GOP Turns "Ethics Committe" Into Orwellian-Named Free-for-All

Someone more cynical than I might suggest that the House Republican leaders’ decision to replace the chairman of the ethics committee yesterday was timed so as be drowned out among the buzz about the State of the Union address.

Someone more paranoid than I might suggest that this move represents another blow to the progressively unsteady system of checks and balances that keep us from sliding into a dictatorship.

Someone more prone to angry bursts of anger than I…

Fuck it. This is complete crap:

House Republican leaders tightened their control over the ethics committee yesterday by ousting its independent-minded chairman, appointing a replacement who is close to them and adding two new members who donated to the legal defense fund of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).

Republican officials have spent months taking steps to ensure DeLay's political survival in case he is indicted by a Texas grand jury investigating political fundraising, and House leadership aides said they needed to have the ethics committee controlled by lawmakers they can trust.
Trust to not accuse them of ethics violations, despite that being the objective of the position, should it be required. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi wanted to effectively counter the GOP’s view of the state of our union, they might have forgone the droning wonkiness in favor of an announcement that the state of the union is this: the President and his allies are seeking to undermine the integrity of the Congress and our very union by refusing to hold accountable any of their members who breaches the public trust. Our union is in grave danger of its government losing their purpose; the GOP is serving their own best interests, rather than the people’s.

And then they might have mentioned that while the president was preparing for his freedom-riddled speech earlier in the day, his fellow party members were increasing their own freedoms, too—starting with appointing a partisan ethics chair who will grant them the freedom to do whatever they want without hindrance of law or threat of censure.
Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), who clashed with DeLay so often that they barely spoke and was considered wayward by other leaders, was replaced yesterday with Rep. Richard Hastings (R-Wash.). Hastings has carried out other sensitive leadership assignments and is known as a favorite of Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who made the decision.

Hefley said in an interview yesterday that he believes he was removed because he was too independent. He said there is "a bad perception out there that there was a purge in the committee and that people were put in that would protect our side of the aisle better than I did."

"Nobody should be there to protect anybody," he said. "They should be there to protect the integrity of the institution."

The replacement of Hefley is the latest in a series of actions by GOP leaders to crack down on a rebellious ethics committee that posed a threat to DeLay and other Republicans.
Foolishly, I would suggest that DeLay’s unethical behavior posed a threat to himself and other Republicans more than the ethics committee. You see, if DeLay could just keep himself from breaking the rules, who ran the ethics committee would be moot, now wouldn’t it?
DeLay and other Republicans were angered in October when the ethics committee admonished DeLay for asking federal aviation officials to track an airplane involved in a Texas redistricting controversy, and for conduct that suggested political donations might influence legislative action.

It was the third time that the panel had admonished the powerful majority leader. And many Republicans were miffed because the complaint that led to the committee's findings was filed by then-Rep. Chris Bell (D-Tex.), a freshman who lost his primary last year under the redistricting plan that DeLay had promoted.

Hastert had signaled for months that he would refuse to waive a rule that limited Hefley's term as chairman. The leadership not only stripped Hefley of his chairmanship yesterday but also removed him from the committee.


Republican leaders put on the committee two new members who have donated to a DeLay legal fund: Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex..) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). Smith gave DeLay $10,000, making him among the seven largest donors among congressional members, and Cole gave $5,000, according to an analysis of disclosure records by the watchdog group Public Citizen.


Hefley said he "would not have changed the committee members, because I've sat there and watched them work with great integrity."
Well, that was their first mistake, wasn’t it? Nobody has any business working with great integrity in the GOP. Not anymore.

(Hat tip, Ms. Julien.)

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