Reducing Oversight on Congress

Photo by Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

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http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/3/14154332/office-of-congressional-ethics

Named the first director of the OCE in 2008, Wise says that perhaps the most important thing to know about the agency is not its broad, sweeping powers to protect House ethics but how little it can actually do.

“This is a fact-gathering operation. All it does it gather facts,” says Wise, who served as director from 2008 to 2010. “The idea that [the members are] being abused by this doesn’t make any sense.”

Unlike other similar agencies, the OCE can’t issue sanctions. It can’t force members of the House to testify or turn over evidence and documents. Congressional members ultimately retain authority over its decisions. The OCE can’t even say if it thinks a member of the House did something wrong.

What the OCE can do is much simpler: issue fact-based reports through investigations conducted by the attorneys on its staff.

And from https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/gop-to-start-on-ambitious-conservative-agenda-as-congress-convenes-today/2017/01/03/6117cbe2-d1a1-11e6-945a-76f69a399dd5_story.html :

The OCE was created in 2008 to address concerns that the Ethics Committee had been too timid in pursuing allegations of wrongdoing by House members. Under the current House ethics regime, the OCE is empowered to release a public report of its findings even if the Ethics Committee chooses not to take further action against a member.

 

An OCE spokeswoman declined to comment Monday. Because Monday’s vote was taken in a private party meeting, there is no public tally of how members voted on the proposal. (same article)

 

Rationale?: The only argument I saw was that it’s redundant with the Ethics Committee itself (which is why I shared that first follow-up comment).

I think this would be a great opportunity to reach out to Republican law-makers and thank them for having a backbone, but unfortunately who supported what isn’t public (hence my second follow-up comment).

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