January 17, 2006
Few things are more frightening than when Congress discovers it has an ethics problem and wants to do something about it.
The latest, but probably not the last casualty, is congressman Bob Ney of Ohio, who has decided to “temporarily” step down as chairman of the house administration committee. Ney, who is suspected of having taken large campaign donations, possibly in exchange for legislative favors – which Ney denies – would be in charge of any lobby reform legislation and House Speaker Dennis Hastert didn’t want that easy target for Democrats.
One of the reforms that needs to come out of this involves congressional travel and who pays for it. If it is official business, the trips should be paid with public funds with the appropriate expense vouchers submitted like the rest of us must do. If not, then private firms with interests before congress should not be allowed to pay. Why is that so difficult to do?
While some democrats are suspected of taking Abramhoff money, Republicans can’t get away with pretending they are less tainted than Democrats. The entire system stinks.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.