The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, April 11, 2005

The House ethics truce - not the first?

With all the Dem hoopla over Tom DeLay's ethical quagmire, you'd be pardoned for forgetting that the Democrat House leadership had agreed an ethics truce with the felons across the aisle, and religiously held to that truce over seven long and, no doubt, corruption-laden years [1].

The only reason why the Dems would have agreed to such a cartel is that they had bad apples on their side of the aisle which they wanted to keep away of the sunshine of publicity.

Reference to the House rap-sheet - reports on erring members going back to the 1st Congress - certainy shows an astonishing rise in the number of such reports in the 1990s.

By comparison, there was a period of eighteen years (1890-1908) during which no reports were issued at all! And, during the ultra-corrupt period between 1865 and 1877, only around a dozen reports on corruption-related matters.

One surmises that there have been more than one ethics truce (formally agreed or not) in the history of the House: even, that the norm is a sort of ethics truce lite, under which only those cases that are cannot plausibly be ignored are taken up by the committee.

Sound strategy, from one viewpoint - voters don't want to have their noses rubbed in the mucky reality that they've elected a bunch of crooks.

But, at the expense of seeing a DeLay flourish? Dems, having made such a fuss about DeLay, might find closing Pandora's Box a little tricky.

  1. The media have forgetten it ever existed, it seems: Google News shows no news pieces mentioning ethics truce - and only one op-ed, from former Congressman and anti-DeLay complainant Chris Bell. He's thinking of running for governor in 2006.

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