A growing number of ethics questions and investigations are mounting for the Republican House majority, despite earlier leadership pledges of ethical purity.
In 2010, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) promised that if his party won the majority in the midterm elections, he (as majority leader) and his colleagues would take the toughest possible stand on ethics.
I think as the Republicans emerge as a new governing majority, it is incumbent upon us to institute a zero-tolerance policy. We understand there were reasons for our being fired in ’06 and ’08. Some of that had to do with ethics violations. I mean we had several members under public investigations during the time of the ’06 elections. I think we’ve learned that that’s not a good way to gain the confidence of the people and that we ought to be instituting a zero-tolerance policy here.
“We’ve learned our lesson,” Cantor told the National Review Online, “We cannot tolerate any ethics violations or behavior, in terms of compromising the ethics that the people expect us to have as their representatives.” Watch the video:
So, how are they doing?
- Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), finance vice chair for the National Republican Congressional Committee (the House GOP’s campaign arm), is reportedly under federal grand jury investigation for alleged reimbursement of campaign donors by his companies, improper tax deductions, inaccurate Congressional disclosure reports.
- Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), (R-AL) continues to chair financial services despite an ongoing investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for alleged insider trading.
- Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), continues to chair the House Armed Services, despite reports that Congressional investigators allege he got a special cut-rate on his Countrywide home loan.
- Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), continues to chair the House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee, despite reports that Congressional investigators allege he got a special cut-rate on his Countrywide home loan.
- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), continues to chair the House Rules Committee’s Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, despite reports that Congressional investigators allege he got a special cut-rate on his Countrywide home loan.
- Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) continues to serve, despite ongoing Federal Election Commission and House Ethics Committee investigations into reports that he engaged in illegal campaign fundraising.
- Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) continues to serve despite reported IRS and FBI investigations into alleged tax evasion and failure to disclose $132,000 in “loans” from a company co-owned by his mother.
- Rep. Joe Walsh (R-FL) continues to serve despite a reported $117,000 in unpaid child support payments.
- According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Reps. Ken Calvert (R-CA), Gary Miller (R-CA), and Tim Murphy (R-PA) have also been under investigation over the past two years for ethical issues, yet all three continue to serve.
Even Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was hit with an ethics complaint last September. The Office of Congressional Ethics has not yet addressed allegations by American Family Voices that Issa used his “public position to promote his private financial interest” and Issa’s office has denied wrongdoing.
Not only has the House leadership stood by their accused colleagues, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will headline a fundraiser for Buchanan’s reelection campaign this Saturday. But while they may not have learned the lesson, with 68 percent of the country disapproving of the job the House GOP is doing, according to a recent PPP poll, Cantor appears correct that the House Republicans’ ethical laxity is “not a good way to gain the confidence of the people.”