It didn’t take more than one day into 2017 – and before the new House was in fact seated – for Republicans in Congress to pass rules that would remove the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics by putting it back under the control of the House Ethics Committee aka the lawmakers it is supposed to monitor. This is bad news.
To quote via this Medium article, the bill:
Renames the “Office of Congressional Ethics” the “Office of Congressional Complaint Review,” and places the Office under the oversight of the Committee on Ethics. Provides protections against disclosures to the public or other government entities, and requires that any matter that may involve a violation of criminal law must be referred to the Committee on Ethics. Provides greater certainty as to the commencement and termination of any review, including timely notice to the subject and Committee on Ethics. Bars the consideration of anonymous complaints and requires rules changes to better safeguard the exercise of due process rights of both subject and witness. Limits the jurisdiction of the Office to the last three Congresses to conform to the statute of limitations for the Committee on Ethics.
There are rumblings too of other bad changes, but this is the big one. Guess what it’s time for: it’s time to play Call Your Congressperson! This is one of the steps the Indivisible Guide recommends.
Here’s what you do in three easy steps – and you should do this even if you expect your Congressperson is against these changes, as it is important to show you are paying attention:
- Click here to look up who your Representative is.
- Call their office – or, if you feel extra smart, go into their local office! (You’ll have to go to their website to find the local address.)
- All you have to say is this if they’re against “Hey, __________, I am a local constituent, and I was wondering where Congressperson So and So sits with regards to the new ethics rules.” Then, if they are against it, “What else are they doing to stop it?” If they are for it, “I would like to register my strong disagreement.”
- If you’re showing up in person: this is a bold move, but an awesome one. Go with a friend! Go with five friends! Say you were in the neighborhood and stopping by and have the same questions, per above.
SO EASY. SO IMPORTANT. This is only round one.