Looks like the Republican leadership is not as smart as I gave them credit for yesterday. Even though they retreated from their earlier proposed rule changes to ethics standards, they still made changes that will make it much harder to hold Congressmen accountable. Now, over the objections of the Ethics Committee chair Republican Joel Hefley, the rules have been lessened.
Before, the Ethics Committee was made up of 10 representatives of both parties. When a charge was brought before the committee, if the committee was deadlocked on if an investigation should be opened or not, an investigation would automatically be opened. This makes sense because it stops partisanship from stopping an investigation. Now, if there is deadlock, the charge is automatically dropped. This means that no charge will make it to an investigation at any point in the near future. It does not matter if the charge is legitimate or not because the congress has become so partisan that no side will budge and this will only lead to more partisan political gamesmanship. Before, if a charge was baseless and the committee was deadlocked, the investigation was automatically open, but then quickly put to bed as baseless and the congressman's name was cleared.
Now... and mark my words, charges will be brought against a Congressmen - knowing full well that the committee will deadlock and the charge will automatically be dismissed - just so one party can claim the other party is hiding something. Republicans screwed themselves on this one. First, they are the ones who lowered the standard and did not consult the Democrats or even the Ethics Committee itself in doing so. Second, Democrats can blame the Republicans for any and all charges that don't get investigated, even the charges brought about against Democrats. After all, the Democrats opposed the rule change, Right? It's not their lil'ol fault the big bad GOP changed the rules... Silly Republicans.
Link to story