Eric Lipton, reporting for The New York Times:
House Republicans, defying their top leaders, voted Monday to
significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office
set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent
three members of Congress to jail.
The move to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics was not
public until late Monday, when Representative Robert Goodlatte,
Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary
Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had
approved the change with no advance public notice or debate.
In its place, a new Office of Congressional Complaint Review would
be set up within the House Ethics Committee, which before the
creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics had been accused of
ignoring credible allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers.
A secret vote within the Republican caucus to effectively eliminate the office that investigates their own misconduct. This is an outrage.
Mr. Goodlatte defended the action in a statement issued Monday
evening, saying it would strengthen ethics oversight in the House
while also giving lawmakers better protections against what some
members have called overzealous efforts by the Office of
Orwellian double-speak: strengthening an ethics office by stripping its independence. The Republicans — in the House at least — are dropping all pretense that they intend to govern with any integrity.
Update: 12 hours later:
House Republicans, facing a storm of bipartisan criticism,
including from President-elect Donald J. Trump, moved early
Tuesday afternoon to reverse their plan to gut the Office of
Congressional Ethics. It was an embarrassing turnabout on the
first day of business for the new Congress, a day when party
leaders were hoping for a show of force to reverse policies of the
Trump, it should be noted, didn’t voice opposition to the plan, only the timing of it.
★ Monday, 2 January 2017