Friday, June 4, 2010

Washington Post blasts Fudge's bill to curb ethics office

Here in Cleveland, we think of U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge as the successor to Stephanie Tubbs Jones, leader of Northeast Ohio's black Democrats, a political power broker. Looks like she's in danger of developing a different reputation in Washington -- as a congressperson who wants to weaken a new ethics law.

Fudge introduced a bill this week to limit the powers of the two-year-old Office of Congressional Ethics. Her intention, she says, is to keep ethics investigations from becoming political attacks. But good-government groups and the Washington Post editorial page disagree. They point out that Fudge's chief of staff, Dawn Kelley Mobley, was admonished by the House Ethics Committee for her role in setting up a Caribbean junket for some members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Four of those congresspeople are co-sponsoring Fudge's bill.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call summarizes her bill this way: "The House ethics committee could gain unilateral power to bury investigative reports authored by the Office of Congressional Ethics."

Today's Post editorial, entitled "Fudge Factor" in the print edition, says Fudge's proposal "would essentially neuter the ethics board, making it more difficult for OCE to launch investigations and inform the public of its findings." It concludes:

That Ms. Fudge and friends fear [the office's] power to launch an investigation says less about the new ethics office than it does about the sponsors of this misguided resolution.

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