Congress Investigation Runs Into Serious Problem

( The New York Times reported this week that the House Office of Congressional Ethics had four cases it was examining this fall and two of the lawmakers under scrutiny are refusing to cooperate.

The two lawmakers who refused to cooperate were Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) whose wife’s stock purchases are alleged to have influenced his actions as a member of Congress, and Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) whose office was accused of improperly awarding contracts to companies owned by relatives of his aides.

Those two cases are now being reviewed by the House Ethics Committee.

Over the last decade, the number of House members unwilling to cooperate with the Congressional Ethics Office has steadily increased, leading some ethics experts to raise concerns that the growing lack of accountability for violating ethics rules could cause trust in Congress to erode.

As if the erosion of trust in Congress isn’t a ship that left port years ago.

The Office of Congressional Ethics was created in 2008 and began its work in 2009. In its first two years of existence, the ethics office only had three lawmakers out of 68 refuse to cooperate, or just 4 percent.

But in 2021, six of the fourteen House members under scrutiny refused to cooperate, bringing the noncooperation rate up to 43 percent, making 2021 the highest rate of noncooperation on record.

This might shock you, but when the House created the Office of Congressional Ethics they didn’t make it a requirement for lawmakers to cooperate.

The New York Times finds this concerning. The ethics “experts” quoted in the article conclude that the reason a larger percentage of lawmakers are refusing to cooperate is that “improper behavior” isn’t seen as a political liability.

Another “expert” suggested that lawmakers don’t take the ethics rules seriously, nor do they even acknowledge the legitimacy of the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Well, when ethics complaints are routinely lodged for purely political reasons, it’s understandable that some lawmakers don’t take it seriously.

Remember when a bogus ethics complaint was lodged against then-House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes after he began looking into the background of RussiaGate? There was nothing to it and Nunes was completely cleared.

The ethics “experts” blame it on shifting norms when in reality it might be a natural response to the weaponization of the Office of Congressional Ethics.