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Archive of posts filed under the Ethics category.

Me Too’s Privileged Few

If you are interested in the law and custom of Parliament (lex et consuetude parliamenti), you should follow Jack Simson Caird on twitter (@jasimsoncaird). Had you done so, you too would have learned of a recent controversy involving parliamentary privilege and legislative self-discipline that caught my attention. The story begins on October 24, 2018, when [...]

Sexual Harassment and the Office of Congressional Ethics

As you are no doubt aware, there has been a great deal of controversy in the past few months about Congress’s handling of internal employment issues, most notably sexual harassment claims. It is less likely you are aware that Congress has actually moved rather expeditiously to address the problem. Last week a bill to do [...]

“Nothing I have done as a senator, nothing, has brought dishonor on this institution . . .”

“And I am confident the ethics committee would agree.” I was struck by these words from Senator Al Franken’s resignation speech (or perhaps semi-resignation speech) today. While Franken is to some extent denying the factual allegations (i.e., groping various women) made against him, the point of this particular line was to stress that he has [...]

The Senate’s Authority to Punish or Expel Roy Moore: A Response to Stan Brand

Former House Counsel Stan Brand has written this article in Politico entitled “Why the Law Might Not Allow the Senate to Expel Roy Moore.” I am working on a longer piece dealing with jurisdictional and prudential limits on the Senate Ethics Committee, but I want to take this opportunity to comment on Brand’s article. In [...]

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 [...]