- Steve Pearce has appeared on the “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” list twice
- He broke confidentiality to admonish ethics investigators for their investigation into misconduct by his staff
- Proposed amendment to eliminate funding for the office that investigated his staff and members of Congress who break the rules
Southern New Mexico’s Congressman Steve Pearce (R-Southern NM) did an amazing thing on Friday afternoon: he publicly acknowledged a confidential ethics investigation into staff in his office, then proposed to eliminate the investigators who conducted it.
Here’s what happened:
Earlier this week, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan announced plans to pass a spending bill funding Congress in an attempt to pay their own salaries and programs before (now annual) end-of-year Republican budget gridlock stops funding for other federal agencies and likely shuts down the government (again).
And it was here that Steve Pearce saw his chance to eliminate the House’s the office HuffingtonPost‘s Congressional reporter called “the only independent agency keeping an eye on the U.S. House” responsible for investigating misconduct by Members of Congress.
Pearce has twice made the notable “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” list (2007, 2008) published each year by the non-partisan Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), but it was a particular investigation into misconduct close to Pearce that seems to have sparked his interest in eliminating ethics watchdogs in Congress.
Investigations by the Office of Congressional Ethics are generally confidential, but Steve Pearce broke those confidentiality rules last year when he announced that House ethics staff were investigating a staffer from his office. He then tried to admonish investigators for doing their job and following up on allegations of misconduct in his office.
At the time he also proposed new rules “that government watchdogs fear could help lawmakers obstruct investigations” and slow down investigations like that one into his own staff.
But obstruction apparently wasn’t enough because on Friday he took to the floor of the US House of Representatives (on live TV no less) and proposed to eliminate the entire funding for the office responsible for investigating misconduct and crimes by Members of Congress and their staff.
Seriously. He actually wants to do that.
This notion was so crazy that Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-D) (who happens to be Chair of the DNC) managed to get more than 100 Republicans to vote with her and Democrats against it (watch her full rebuttal here).
Just watch Pearce try to sell this.
If your browser doesn’t support embedded videos like these, you can watch it directly at c-span.org right here.
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