HIGHTOWER: Newt's Ethics Moratorium

Let's say you embezzled from a bank, and you get caught for this ethical transgression. Now, let's say you tell the cops it's OK, because you had earlier declared a moratorium on embezzlement cases.Of course, the cops would laugh right in your face, not sure whether to haul you to the pokey or to the mental institution.But now, let's say you're a member of congress, and you get caught for an ethical transgression. You tell the cops it's OK, because you've declared a moratorium on ethics cases. This time, though, the cops don't laugh . . . they just go away.This ridiculous tale is a true story! Until last January, congressional ethics violations went to the House ethics committee, but now they go nowhere. You see, the House has quietly imposed a moratorium on taking new ethics cases and suspended any work on existing cases.They've literally taken the ethics cop off the Capitol Hill beat. This is in reaction to the embarrassment of Newt Gingrich getting slapped with a $300,000 fine for one of his many ethical pecadillos. In retaliation, he created a special task force to [quote] "reform" the ethics rules. And while the new rules are being devised and approved, Newt also imposed the moratorium -- convenient, since he and two of his top legislative lieutenants have ethics cases pending against them.The task force finally issued its report, and the moratorium was to be lifted July 15th. Unsurprisingly, the report weakened existing ethics rules, making it harder for powerful lawmakers like Newt to be held accountable. But even this weak rewrite was too strong for the Loudspeaker, and he's bottled it up while his henchmen make it even weaker. Meanwhile, the moratorium has been extended to the fall . . . so there's still no cop on the beat.This is Jim Hightower saying . . . To help make a citizen's arrest of thesecrooks, call the Congressional Accountability Project: 202-296-2787.Source:* "Ethics, Please" Editorial Page. Roll Call: July 7, 1997.* Congressional Accountability Project Press Release. June 16, 1997.* "House GOP to extend moratorium on new ethics cases until July 15th" by Jock Friedly and A.B. Stoddard. The Hill: June 25, 1997.Contact us directly at: hightower@essential.org

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