For the Second Time, Senate Ethics Committee Tells David Vitter “Don’t Do It Again”
Washington, D.C. – In June 2011, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against Senator David Vitter (R-LA), after the senator attempted to block a pay raise for Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar until he issued new deepwater exploratory permits. CREW alleged Sen. Vitter had attempted to bribe Sec. Salazar in violation of criminal law and that he violated Senate rules by engaging in improper conduct.
Today, the Senate Ethics Committee released a letter to Sen. Vitter finding the senator’s conduct was inappropriate, but failing to take further action because there was “no clear Senate guidance addressing such conduct.”
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “So now senators need guidance to know extortion and bribery violate Senate rules? If the Ethics Committee hasn’t issued specific advance guidance, senators can’t be held accountable for outrageous conduct? How about if the Ethics Committee just issues this blanket guidance: criminal conduct violates the rules."
This is the second time the Ethics Committee has effectively warned Sen. Vitter, “don’t do it again.” Back in 2007, CREW had filed a complaint against Sen. Vitter for soliciting for prostitution. In that case, almost a year later the Ethics Committee decided not to act because the conduct occurred before his Senate service. Sen. Vitter was warned that if new allegations came to light, the committee would reopen the matter.
“Maybe the Ethics Committee needs its own three-strikes rule – the third time the committee finds a senator has done something wrong, it will actually do something about it,” continued Sloan. “Members like Sen. Vitter routinely get away with reprehensible conduct that would result in serious consequences for anyone else. No wonder the public is fed up with Congress.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or email@example.com