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Warren Slams GOP for Voting to Weaken Ethics Office

Sen. Elizabeth Warren slammed the GOP on Monday after they voted to gut the House Ethics Committee.

The Hill reports:

The House GOP Conference on Monday voted to approve an amendment to House rules that would put the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) under the oversight of lawmakers through the House Ethics Committee.

Under the amendment, proposed by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the office would be renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review.
The proposal also bars the ethics office from considering anonymous tips about potential ethics violations and prevents disclosures about investigations.

Goodlatte said in a statement his proposal would ensure due process rights for lawmakers.

Ethics watchdogs, however, warn that barring OCE from reviewing anonymous tips would impede whistleblowers who may fear reprisals.

Currently, OCE investigators have the freedom to pursue allegations against lawmakers and make recommendations to the House Ethics Committee about whether or not to open a formal probe.

The committee can then decide whether a lawmaker is innocent or deserves some sort of punishment.

The ethics office was established as an independent, non-partisan entity by Congress under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2008.

Democrats have largely blasted the amendment, with Pelosi referring to it as the “first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

“Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions,” she said.

Photo credit: Public Citizen / Flickr.

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