The House and Senate Ethics Committees should see their workload increase in the 112th Congress, as at least five of America’s Most Crooked Candidates are now heading to Washington (crooked candidate Dino Rossi’s race against incumbent Patty Murray still has not been decided). With the Republicans now set to take control of the House in January, it will be incumbent on presumptive Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to put polices in place to ensure that these new members of Congress don’t grow up to become some of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress, 20 of whom were reelected Tuesday. That number could rise to 21 if Senator Lisa Murkowski succeeds in her write in campaign.
“If Mr. Boehner follows through on his recent comments, one of the best tools for keeping Congress honest, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), may soon be a thing of the past,” said Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Yet, with at least five crooked candidates on their way to Washington, and at least 20 of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress recently reelected, Mr. Boehner should be working on ways to strengthen the OCE, not eviscerate it.”
Voters rejected some most ethically challenged candidates. Former Congressman and convicted felon James Traficant (I-OH) was crushed by Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH). Meanwhile in Delaware, Democrat Chris Coons won Delaware’s open Senate seat in a landslide, giving Republican Christine O’Donnell more time to devote to planning her future legal defense. In September, CREW filed complaints with the FEC and the United States Attorney alleging Ms. O’Donnell had stolen her campaign funds for her own personal use.
There’s good news and bad news in Florida. Although two crooked candidates, Gov. Charlie Crist and Rep. Kendrick Meek, were disappointed by the outcome, the news from the Sunshine State is not entirely sunny. The third candidate in the race, Republican Senator-elect Marco Rubio also has his ethics foibles.
“Looking at the class of incoming freshmen, there is an enormous amount of work to be done of the ethics front,” said Ms. Sloan. “Now that the election is over, both Republicans and Democrats are talking about the spirit of bipartisanship. One of the best ways they can turn that talk into action is by providing the OCE with the tools it needs to police unethical conduct and help ensure that we have a Congress worthy of the American people.”