The House Ethics Committee is “keeping mum” on whether they will proceed or not with an “inquiry”, according to the National Journal.
Republicans are very busy investigating a website for glitches and considering charging HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius with a crime for following protocol, so dealing with actual crimes committed by their members who’ve been convicted for said crime is perhaps a bit out of their scope.
As the December 19 (30 days from allegations, convictions, charges of member) deadline looms ahead of the House, Republicans wring their hands over whether or not to proceed with an inquiry into Trey Radel’s conviction for buying cocaine. The result of said inquiry could include a “letter of reproval” — gasp.
I can see what all of the consternation is about. A letter of reproval!? All he did was buy some blow, right? A letter? How unfair. Republicans only investigate “alleged” violations of the law. Actual violations with criminal convictions? Meh.
If Republicans had any actual values, Mr. Radel could also be facing a recommendation of expulsion — but this would involve an Ethics Committee inquiry. An inquiry, I tell you.
And that is simply not done, unless Republicans are using inquiries from the House Oversight Committee to sell a lie to the press by deliberately withholding relevant information that ruins their narrative. It should give the press pause that the person Republicans are using to sell said lies is himself a criminal, but we are all to pretend that Darrell Issa’s criminal past never happened either.
Described as a “working class high school drop out”, Issa makes for a colorful character with various criminal charges peppered through his life. “Issa, it turned out, had, among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building.”
It’s awkward when Republicans are preaching traditional values. So the indicted car thief and arson-adjacent person of interest is to be believed when he is suggesting that the President be impeached, but when a member of his own party is convicted for cocaine purchasing, well gosh. Boys will be boys. Hee-haw.
It’s hard to be a House Ethics Committee enforcing standards when Republicans blatantly ignore criminal convictions as if somehow they aren’t sure if a criminal conviction is a violation of ethics.
The Committee on Ethics is authorized to undertake the following actions:
A) Recommend administrative actions to establish or enforce standards of official conduct.
B) Investigate alleged violations of the Code of Official Conduct or of any applicable rules, laws, or regulations governing the performance of official duties or the discharge of official responsibilities. Such investigations must be made in accordance with Committee rules.
C) Report to appropriate federal or state authorities substantial evidence of a violation of any law applicable to the performance of official duties that may have been disclosed in a Committee investigation. Such reports must be approved by the House or by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Committee.
D) Render advisory opinions regarding the propriety of any current or proposed conduct of a Member, officer, or employee, and issue general guidance on such matters as necessary.
Interestingly, within the Ethics Committee Rules is a clause about bringing false charges against another member and working a full day — both of which could be used against this House if they weren’t in charge of policing themselves.
Republicans might adjourn without even rendering an opinion on the propriety of Trey Radel’s drug conviction. Because they might have to punish him with a letter.
Given their track record, we await Republicans’ appointment of Trey Radel to lead the Ethics Committee upon his return from what Florida Republicans allege is phony rehab. While not actually feasible, it would not be surprising in the least.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.