BREAKING: House leadership hides behind shutdown to undermine the Office of Congressional Ethics

Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee issued the following statement in response to legislative language in section 407 on the second-to-last page of the much-needed reform package — the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (CAA Reform Act), introduced by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA).

“While the country is distracted by the potential government shutdown, House leadership is using this opportunity to purposefully defang the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and undermine its role in upholding high ethical standards in the House of Representatives. They inserted language that would take the unprecedented step of restricting OCE’s jurisdiction, chipping away at its authority.

This offending language should be removed from the legislation immediately because there is no demonstrated need for it to be there.

The proposed streamlined process would require the new Office of Congressional Workplace Rights to refer cases to the House Ethics Committee without the transparency applicable to investigations conducted by OCE. This is alarming given the Committee’s poor track record when it comes to committing to a timely, publicly accountable process.

The Harper-Brady bill legislates away OCE’s jurisdiction without any public hearings or apparently without any discussion with OCE. This covert move is reminiscent of House leadership’s behind-closed-doors effort to sabotage OCE at the beginning of the 115th Congress.”