Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Democrat Ethics Chief: Ethics Reform Not a Priority

The Majority Accountability Project:

Now, little more than six months into a Democrat Majority, the man charged with toughening House ethics’ rules says there’s "no political need" for reform, the Majority Accountability Project ( has learned.

U.S. Representative Mike Capuano, D-MA, tapped to chair a special House task force on ethics reform in January, made that startling admission during an interview with the Buffalo News published Monday. The article critiqued the Democrats’ slow pace in enacting promised reforms to end perceived abuses in Congress.

Noting that Capuano missed a May 1, 2007, deadline to propose an ethics overhaul, good government groups expressed concern that "the momentum for reform appears to be fading day by day." Capuano, the paper reported, "isn’t surprised" House Democrats have been unable to fulfill their pledge to make their first Majority in 12 years "the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history."
In one way, Mike Capuano is probably right about ethics reform. No matter what Congressional Democrats do, cynical voters will likely think that nothing has changed. But while Democrats have little to gain from passing ethics reform, they can lose a lot by doing nothing. It's becoming clear that this Congress will have little substantively to run on next year. A failure to do something on ethics will be one more thing that Republicans will use against Democrats.

In fact, voters are very likely to remember Duke Cunningham, Bill Jefferson, and Mark Foley in 2008. When Republican challengers remind voters of the unfulfilled promise to clean up Congress, Democrats will wish they had done something.

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