Speaker Ryan, Bring Ethics Back to Congress

Mr. Speaker, it’s been a year.

In 2015, former Representative Porter Goss (R-FL) announced he was stepping down as co-chair of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) after serving for more than seven years. That left the independent ethics review board in the House unbalanced. (Full disclosure: Rep. Goss, who also served as CIA Director under President George W. Bush, is a member of our ReFormers Caucus.)

Today, we are joining the Campaign Legal Center, Judicial Watch, the National Legal and Policy Center, the National Taxpayers Union and others to call on you to appoint an individual from your party who will continue OCE’s legacy and commitment to fair and impartial investigations while avoiding partisan battles and favoritism. Read the letter here.

To summarize: the Office of Congressional Ethics was founded in 2008 with an appointed eight-member board. The mission of the OCE is to “review allegations of misconduct against Members, officers and staff…and when appropriate, refer matters to the House Committee on Ethics.”

In short, it watches the watchmen, making sure lawmakers abide by the same common-sense rules and codes of conduct. Under the leadership of co-chairs David Skaggs (another ReFormer) and Porter Goss, the OCE has remained above partisan bickering and, in a win for transparency advocates, continued to make its findings public. This is an institution the American people can trust (and might help boost your 11 percent approval rating, by the way.)

We must also continue to emphasize that the OCE should have subpoena power, and this rule change should be made immediately as part of the 115th Congress.

Our democracy cannot function unless everyone plays by the same rules and abides by the same laws. This isn’t a partisan issue.

It’s been long enough. Time to appoint a new co-chair, Mr. Speaker.

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