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Archive of posts filed under the Ethics category.

Congressional Staff Work on Transition Matters

At legbranch.com, the website of the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group, I have a post regarding the House Judiciary Committee staffers who allegedly worked on the Trump travel/immigration executive order during the transition. Tweet

Organizations Call for a House Task Force on Privately-Financed Foreign Travel

A group of watchdog organizations, including the Campaign Legal Center and Common Cause, sent this letter to Speaker Ryan (congratulations/condolences to the new speaker, BTW) last week asking for a moratorium on privately-financed foreign travel and the creation of a task force to review House rules and procedures related to such travel. Revelations relating to [...]

Was House Ethics Tricked into Letting Gulenists Treat?

A USA Today investigation by Paul Singer and Paulina Firozi finds some spooky things going on with congressional travel sponsored by Gulenist groups over the past decade: A dozen different Gülen groups have sponsored congressional travel since 2008 and have filed forms with the House certifying that they were paying for the trips. The House Ethics Committee [...]

“Thorough Review” of Baku? I Say Not True.

On July 31, 2015, the House Ethics Committee issued its report on the trip to Baku, Azerbaijan by some 42 House members and staffers. The primary purpose of the trip, which took place at the end of May 2013, was to attend a conference in Baku entitled “U.S.-Azerbaijan: Vision for the Future.” The conference was [...]

Rare Bipartisan Agreement: Let’s Sweep Baku Gifts Under the Rug

It’s hard to decide which is the worst part of the House Ethics Committee’s report on member/staff travel to Baku, Azerbaijan, but I am going to go with the discussion of tangible gifts. At least it is easiest to explain why that part is wrong. I will discuss other aspects of the report in future [...]

Lessons from a Byzantine Scandal

Let’s say you are a Member of Congress who is approached by an obscure nonprofit organization about accepting an all-expense-paid trip to Baku, Azerbaijan during an upcoming recess. (Baku is on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, in case you need a map to locate it, which you probably do). The purpose of the [...]

Delegate Morrissey and the Voters Who Love Him

So when we left off our discussion of Virginia Delegate Joseph Morrissey (D-Henrico turned I-Prison), I noted: All of this is likely academic as the voters will probably not take up Morrissey’s case as a cause celebre ala Wilkes. But it should be noted that Wilkes was a famous libertine and some of his expulsions [...]

Michael Grimm, John Wilkes and the House’s Power to Punish for Conduct Preceding Election

It is being reported that Representative Michael Grimm has agreed to resign his seat in the next Congress. Grimm was indicted on multiple federal charges in April, was reelected handily in November and last week pled guilty to a single count of tax fraud stemming from his ownership and management of a health food restaurant [...]

Virginia’s John Wilkes Wannabe

For any middle-aged legislator thinking about going all flagrante delicto with an underage intern, be warned that potential consequences include not only pregnancy, but thorny constitutional issues. Tweet

Senator Ervin on Congressional Discipline and Speech or Debate

I have previously explained that the Speech or Debate Clause does not protect members from discipline by their legislative body, up to and including expulsion. Since the subject arose again in the last couple of days (in the course of a Glenn Greenwald initiated thread on Twitter), it may be worth adverting to Senator Ervin’s [...]