Blog — Mel Watt
As the House moves to consider the budget, the Rules Committee has approved for debate an amendment offered by Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC), cutting the budget of the Office of Congressional Ethics by 40%. Given the news that the House Ethics Committee has all but stopped functioning, could there be a worse or more ill-timed amendment?
Further, this seems like a personal vendetta. In 2010, Watt was one of eight members the OCE investigated for potentially tying fundraising to votes on the financial regulatory reform bill. Although Rep. Watt ultimately was cleared of any wrongdoing, apparently he is still smarting from the inquiry.
This is not the first time a lawmaker has sought retribution against the OCE for daring to investigate alleged wrongdoing. Last year, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) tried the same tactic. She introduced a resolution to decimate the office after her chief of staff, Dawn Kelly Mobley, was admonished by the Ethics Committee for her role in helping CBC members improperly obtain an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean – at a time when Ms. Mobley was the ethics lawyer for Ms. Fudge's predecessor, the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and Ms. Tubbs Jones was chairing the ethics committee. Four members who took the trip and were the subject of the OCE investigation and referral to the Ethics Committee co-sponsored the resolution: Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.) and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.).
Thankfully, following widespread criticism, the Fudge resolution died. Rep. Watt’s ignominious amendment should be defeated.