Topics
Administration
Congress
Democrats
Elections
Ethics
Governor -- Alabama
Governor -- Alaska
Governor -- Arizona
Governor -- California
Governor -- Colorado
Governor -- Connecticut
Governor -- Delaware
Governor -- Florida
Governor -- Georgia
Governor -- Hawaii
Governor -- Illinois
Governor -- Indiana
Governor -- Iowa
Governor -- Kentucky
Governor -- Louisiana
Governor -- Maryland
Governor -- Massachusetts
Governor -- Michigan
Governor -- Minnesota
Governor -- Missouri
Governor -- Montana
Governor -- Nevada
Governor -- New Hampshire
Governor -- New Jersey
Governor -- New Mexico
Governor -- New York
Governor -- North Carolina
Governor -- North Dakota
Governor -- Ohio
Governor -- Oregon
Governor -- Pennsylvania
Governor -- Rhode Island
Governor -- South Carolina
Governor -- Texas
Governor -- Utah
Governor -- Vermont
Governor -- Virginia
Governor -- Washington
Governor -- Wyoming
Governors
Health Care
House
House -- Alabama -- 02
House -- Alabama -- 03
House -- Alabama -- 05
House -- Alaska
House -- Arizona -- 01
House -- Arizona -- 03
House -- Arizona -- 05
House -- Arizona -- 08
House -- Arkansas -- 01
House -- Arkansas -- 02
House -- California -- 04
House -- California -- 12
House -- California -- 26
House -- California -- 32
House -- California -- 50
House -- Colorado -- 02
House -- Colorado -- 04
House -- Connecticut -- 04
House -- Connecticut -- 05
House -- Florida -- 06
House -- Florida -- 08
House -- Florida -- 13
House -- Florida -- 15
House -- Florida -- 16
House -- Florida -- 18
House -- Florida -- 19
House -- Florida -- 21
House -- Florida -- 24
House -- Florida -- 25
House -- Georgia -- 05
House -- Georgia -- 10
House -- Georgia -- 12
House -- Idaho -- 01
House -- Illinois -- 01
House -- Illinois -- 03
House -- Illinois -- 05
House -- Illinois -- 06
House -- Illinois -- 10
House -- Illinois -- 11
House -- Illinois -- 14
House -- Illinois -- 18
House -- Indiana -- 03
House -- Indiana -- 07
House -- Indiana -- 09
House -- Iowa -- 03
House -- Iowa -- 04
House -- Kansas -- 02
House -- Kentucky -- 02
House -- Kentucky -- 03
House -- Louisiana -- 01
House -- Louisiana -- 02
House -- Louisiana -- 04
House -- Louisiana -- 06
House -- Maine -- 01
House -- Maryland -- 01
House -- Maryland -- 04
House -- Massachusetts -- 05
House -- Michigan -- 01
House -- Michigan -- 07
House -- Michigan -- 09
House -- Michigan -- 13
House -- Minnesota -- 01
House -- Minnesota -- 03
House -- Minnesota -- 06
House -- Mississippi -- 01
House -- Mississippi -- 03
House -- Missouri -- 09
House -- Nevada -- 02
House -- Nevada -- 03
House -- New Hampshire -- 01
House -- New Hampshire -- 02
House -- New Jersey -- 03
House -- New Jersey -- 05
House -- New Jersey -- 07
House -- New Mexico -- 01
House -- New Mexico -- 02
House -- New York -- 13
House -- New York -- 15
House -- New York -- 20
House -- New York -- 21
House -- New York -- 23
House -- New York -- 24
House -- New York -- 25
House -- New York -- 26
House -- New York -- 29
House -- North Carolina -- 03
House -- North Carolina -- 08
House -- North Carolina -- 10
House -- North Dakota
House -- Ohio -- 01
House -- Ohio -- 02
House -- Ohio -- 05
House -- Ohio -- 07
House -- Ohio -- 10
House -- Ohio -- 15
House -- Ohio -- 16
House -- Oklahoma -- 05
House -- Oregon -- 05
House -- Pennsylvania -- 03
House -- Pennsylvania -- 04
House -- Pennsylvania -- 06
House -- Pennsylvania -- 10
House -- Pennsylvania -- 11
House -- Pennsylvania -- 12
House -- Pennsylvania -- 15
House -- South Carolina -- 01
House -- South Carolina -- 02
House -- South Carolina -- 05
House -- South Dakota
House -- Tennessee -- 07
House -- Tennessee -- 08
House -- Tennessee -- 09
House -- Texas -- 07
House -- Texas -- 10
House -- Texas -- 14
House -- Texas -- 22
House -- Utah -- 03
House -- Virginia -- 01
House -- Virginia -- 05
House -- Virginia -- 09
House -- Virginia -- 11
House -- Washington -- 08
House -- West Virginia -- 02
House -- Wisconsin -- 08
House -- Wyoming
Inauguration 2009
International
Issues
Judiciary
Local Elections
Media
Miscellaneous
Morning Thoughts
Politics Weekly
Polls
Rankings
Republicans
Senate
Senate -- Alaska
Senate -- Arizona
Senate -- Arkansas
Senate -- California
Senate -- Colorado
Senate -- Connecticut
Senate -- Delaware
Senate -- Florida
Senate -- Georgia
Senate -- Idaho
Senate -- Illinois
Senate -- Indiana
Senate -- Iowa
Senate -- Kansas
Senate -- Kentucky
Senate -- Louisiana
Senate -- Maine
Senate -- Massachusetts
Senate -- Minnesota
Senate -- Mississippi
Senate -- Missouri
Senate -- Montana
Senate -- Nebraska
Senate -- Nevada
Senate -- New Hampshire
Senate -- New Jersey
Senate -- New Mexico
Senate -- New York
Senate -- North Carolina
Senate -- North Dakota
Senate -- Ohio
Senate -- Oklahoma
Senate -- Oregon
Senate -- Pennsylvania
Senate -- South Carolina
Senate -- South Dakota
Senate -- Tennessee
Senate -- Texas
Senate -- Utah
Senate -- Virginia
Senate -- Wisconsin
Senate -- Wyoming
Sports
Supreme Court
WH 08
WH 08 -- Democrats
WH 08 -- Republicans
WH 12
WH 12 -- Republicans
White House

 

« GOP Numbers Improving In National Polls | Blog Home Page | IL Sen Poll: Giannoulias Takes Lead Over Kirk »

Democrats Have Yet To 'Drain the Swamp'

When the Democrats reclaimed Congress in the 2006 midterm, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pledged to "drain the swamp" of Congressional ethics violations that allegedly went uninvestigated under Republican rule. On the evening of Nov. 26, 2008 -- Thanksgiving eve - Pelosi, now House Speaker, released a statement to the press regarding the ethics investigation of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), in which she stated, "I have been assured the report will be completed by the end of this session of Congress, which concludes on January 3, 2009. I look forward to reviewing the report at that time."

Now, more than a year later, as the 1st Session of the 111th Congress crawls to a close, the investigation into multiple potential improprieties by the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee remains incomplete. Many, including watchdog groups like the Sunlight Foundation and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, are left wondering how exactly the ethics situation in Congress has improved.

"I don't think things have changed in the way the ethics committee operates -- it's still very slow going, and they're loath to hold members of Congress responsible for misconduct," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan told RealClearPolitics. "The committee is nonpartisan, and in being nonpartisan they do not like to go after members of either party."

As more evidence was brought to light, the committee was forced to expand its investigation at least two times this year; in announcing an expansion of its Rangel investigation in early October, the House ethics committee said it had already issued "close to 150 subpoenas; interviewed approximately 34 witnesses resulting in over 2,100 pages of transcripts; reviewed and analyzed over 12,000 pages of documents; and held over 30 investigative subcommittee meetings."

However, Pelosi and Democratic leadership have swatted away any attempts to temporarily remove Rangel -- who among other things is being investigated for cheating on his taxes -- from his chairmanship of the tax-writing committee until the ethics investigation is complete. Republicans, who were swept from power in the 2006 elections partly because of their own ethics troubles, have continually criticized Democrats for this.

"To allow Mr. Rangel to continue to serve as Chairman of the very committee with IRS oversight...and with no end in sight to his ethics investigation, sends a clear message to the American public that this government refuses to abide by the same laws they impose on the working people of this country," Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) said in October.

Gallup's annual ethics survey, released this week, shows Americans' views of Congress are quickly turning negative. For the first time in the survey's history, a majority now say that the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress is "low" or "very low." That is more than double the number of people who felt the same in 2000.

A recent survey of Democrats in Congress showed that a large percentage of Democrats are worried about the party's lack of follow-through on its 2006 promise "to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history." National Journal's October poll of Democratic members found that just six-in-10 believe their party is doing enough to enforce ethics rules.

Some have attempted their own new initiatives without the approval of party leadership. A bill introduced in April by Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) and two other Democrats sought to prohibit members from taking campaign contributions from any entity for which that member sought an earmark. That bill was promptly shot down.

Pelosi also instructed her caucus this year not to comply with Rep. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) attempts to launch an investigation into the relationship between earmarks and campaign contributions, an effort stemming from the FBI raid of a major lobbying group in February. Flake introduced nine privileged resolutions this year following PMA Group's closure and media reports on its connection to legislators on the Appropriations subcommittee for Defense, including Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.).

All nine were killed on a mostly party-line vote, though at least 20 Democrats joined Republicans on most of the votes. After 27 Democrats voted with the GOP on April 1, Pelosi enlisted her California colleague Howard Berman "to consult with House Democrats on why they should continue to resist Republican demands for an ethics committee investigation," as Roll Call reported.

"It's disappointing that Congress continues to be unable to effectively self-police," said Sunlight Foundation senior writer Paul Blumenthal in a statement to RCP. "It's equally disappointing that questions of congressional ethics are bogged down in partisan politics."