Editorial: Independent ethics office on Capitol Hill
"Representative John Doolittle, under criminal investigation for his past ties to Jack Abramoff, the imprisoned über-lobbyist, has decided not to seek re-election. The nation may not have noticed his adieu, but surely other members of Congress can draw a timely lesson as they approach an important vote on whether to create an independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

The House’s own ethics panel was notoriously passive and uncurious during the Abramoff go-go years in which five Republicans ensnared themselves with luxury junkets and quid pro quo politicking. Mr. Doolittle’s wife enjoyed a soft job on the Abramoff payroll and also drew unusual paychecks cut from her husband’s own campaign treasury.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly determined to move ahead with the proposal for a new oversight office employing six nonpartisan outsiders, appointed by the two party leaders. This would be a definite step forward — one that so far the Senate has shown no interest in emulating. The office would vet allegations of members’ misconduct and refer serious cases to the ethics committee for, we hope, conclusive investigation. The office would also be required to make a public accounting of what it refers to the committee, to make it harder to sweep its work under the carpet."

Get the Story:
Editorial: A Reminder From Mr. Doolittle (The New York Times 1/23)
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Related Stories:
Rep. Doolittle to retire amid Abramoff probe (01/11)
Ex-Rep. Pombo urges Rep. Doolittle not to run (1/9)
Rep. Doolittle subject of re-election rumors (1/8)