I would love to be able to point a finger at the Democrats and say something like ‘Most ethical Congress in history??? Heh!’ But I can’t Republicans are just as culpable as Democrats in fostering the culture of corruption that pervades Washington:
When Democrats made their case during the 2006 elections about why they should control Congress, they offered up Republican lawmakers like Mark Foley and Rick Renzi as examples of the “culture of corruption” they wanted to rid from Washington.
Mr. Foley of Florida resigned after being accused of sending inappropriate e-mails to a 16-year-old congressional page. Mr. Renzi of Arizona faced questions about land deals and accusations that he helped a defense contractor that employed his father.
Convinced that many members of Congress had lost their moral compass, voters sided with Democrats and thrust Republicans from power.
But when the limelight faded, the controversies took an unexpected twist: Democrats, now in control, sought to block or limit prosecutors from gathering certain evidence of corruption against members of Congress on constitutional grounds, complicating the criminal cases against the two Republicans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and the Democratic leadership joined with top Republicans to continue a years-long tradition authorizing the House general counsel’s office to intervene in outside investigations of its members.
Through court filings, the bipartisan coalition sought the exclusion of evidence it said was obtained in violation of Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The clause protects the legislative branch from meddling by the other two branches, declaring that “for any Speech or Debate in either House, [senators and representatives] shall not be questioned in any other Place.”
Many see use of the clause as an effort by Congress to protect its own.
“I think the House as well as the Senate tries to overexpand that right,” said Washington lawyer Robert S. Bennett, a prominent white-collar defense lawyer who has served as special counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics in several major cases.
Mr. Bennett said the clause should be used “narrowly” and not “to cover things up.”
“Congress is largely unaccountable. … Ethics enforcement in Congress is largely a joke,” he said.
The problem is not Republicans or Democrats it’s the Washington political culture… A culture that holds itself above the law and that tolerates corruption until it become an embarrassment that can’t be ignored. If we want real, lasting change in Washington we have to change the culture not simply the party that’s in charge.
I’m a firm believer in Congressional term limits they may not be the best answer but they’re a start.