House Republicans: “Oops!”
File this one under “What the hell were they thinking?”
“House Republicans abruptly withdrew a proposal to weaken an independent ethics watchdog on Tuesday, in a rocky start to the new Congress.”
“Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) both opposed the changes, floated as part of a rules package for the new Congress, during the Monday night conference meeting. The changes were adopted without advance notice and on a federal holiday. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) authored the proposal to give the Ethics Committee jurisdiction over the OCE.”
“The House established the OCE in 2008 under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in response to a string of ethics scandals ensnaring GOP lawmakers.”
Yep, nothing says, “I favor accountability,” like putting the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) under the control of people the OCE might have to investigate.
Meanwhile, the Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives have their own mess to clean up.
From the Tulsa World: Oklahoma speaker calls for investigation into settlement
“The speaker-elect of the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday announced plans for an investigation into a payment to settle a complaint by a former legislative assistant. Republican Rep. Charles McCall of Atoka said the bipartisan House Rules Committee will begin investigating the $44,500 paid to the former assistant and her attorney, the allegations that led to the settlement and the House process for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment. The woman alleged she was fired after reporting sexual harassment by GOP Rep. Dan Kirby.”
Adding to the woe is the question of whether or not Dan Kirby’s is still legally a member of the Oklahoma legislature. In a letter to Speaker-Elect McCall, House Democrat Leader Scott Inman writes, “Representative Kirby’s resignation letter has not been produced publicly and the House Democratic Caucus believes that the document is a public record, that the citizens of the State of Oklahoma have a right to see the resignation document and that the production of a true and correct copy of the document is essential for the determination to be made as to Representative Kirby’s legal status to not only be seated on Organizational Day on January 3, 2017 but also as to Representative Kirby’s legal ability to cast a vote or votes on the important issues that may come before the Oklahoma House of Representatives on that date.”
NewsOn6.com reports, “On December 23, 2016, Kirby announced he would leave office at the end of 2016 after revelations that taxpayer dollars were used to settle a sexual harassment claim against him. But last week, Kirby changed his mind, saying his decision was made in haste and that he didn’t know about the settlement that was made on his behalf.”
Personal Note: In my previous post about Dan Kirby, I insinuated that he was guilty of sexual harassment, based on my belief that his decision to resign was an admission of guilt. That was a mistake on my part. Even a GOP politician is innocent of a charge until proven guilty. I don’t know if Kirby is guilty of wrongdoing, but I certainly am. I apologize for my mistake.