Republicans May Reconsider Independent Ethics Office

Posted July 29, 2010 at 12:12pm

Minority Leader John Boehner said Thursday that if Republicans take over the majority this fall, they would “take a look” at whether the independent Office of Congressional Ethics is an effective entity.

The Ohio Republican did not say whether he would eliminate the OCE but indicated he had some concerns about the functionality of the office.

“There have been a lot of questions raised about how the OCE operates vis-a-vis the ethics committee,” he told reporters. “It’s pretty clear that when this was created, the type of coordination and ground work that should have been laid was not, and so there are questions that remain about how it works and how effective, in fact, it is.”

House Republicans voted en masse against the OCE’s creation in 2008. The office was created to help increase transparency in the House’s ethics process.

The office is tasked with reviewing suspected rules violations and recommending investigations to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Several Republicans who have been investigated by the OCE have complained that its procedures are unfair.

But the questions about the office are not solely on the Republican side of the aisle.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) introduced a resolution just before the Memorial Day break that would significantly scale back the office’s powers to open and pursue investigations.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have complained that the OCE has investigated a disproportionate number of African-American Members of Congress.