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Pelosi Defends Party’s Handling of Ethics Issues

Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her leadership handling of ethics issues Thursday, saying she has “drained the swamp” that existed under Republican majority rule.

The California Democrat, saying she was quoting press reports, described a “criminal syndicate operating out of the Republican leader’s office” when the GOP controlled the House. Democrats promised to restore the ethics of the chamber when they ran and won back the majority in 2006.

“Drain the swamp we did because this was a terrible place,” she said. “What we did when we came in was recommend the toughest ethics reform in a generation. … We made a tremendous difference, and I take great pride in that. Are there going to be individual issues to deal with? Yes. I never said that there wouldn’t be. But we would have a process to deal with it.”

Pelosi spoke before a special ethics subcommittee that was set to meet to consider the ethics charges against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

“This is completely different,” she told reporters at her weekly press conference. “Individual indiscretions are not right. They must be judged, and there must be accountability, and there must be transparency.”

She also brushed off the potential political effects.

“The chips will have to fall where they may politically, but upholding [the] highest ethical standard is a top priority for us,” she said.

But Minority Leader John Boehner repeated his charge Thursday that the Rangel case shows Pelosi failed to deliver on her promise.

“The fact is she made that statement over four years ago, and the fact is that the swamp has not been drained,” the Ohio Republican said.

He vowed to hold his Members to the highest ethical standard if he becomes Speaker after the midterm elections.

Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.

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