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Archive of posts filed under the Ethics category.

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 [...]

Judge Bates Dismisses Rangel’s Lawsuit

Last week, as expected, Judge Bates dismissed Representative Rangel’s lawsuit against the Speaker, the Clerk and various former members and staff of the Ethics Committee. As the court notes in conclusion, “everything on Rangel’s wish list implicates insurmountable separation-of-powers barriers to the Court’s exercise of authority,” with the “most problematic [being] Rangel’s unprecedented view that [...]

How the House Deals with Cocaine Possession

As reported by Roll Call and various other outlets, Representative Trey Radel is to appear in D.C. Superior Court tomorrow to face charges of misdemeanor possession of cocaine. No one seems very clear on how this matter will be treated in the House so I think it is worth pointing out that House rules require [...]

Congressional Release of Classified Information and the Disciplinary Power

In reference to my last post, it has been suggested by one of the more faithful commenters at Balkinization, Shag from Brookline, that the Speech or Debate Clause might bar a house of Congress from taking disciplinary action against a member who unilaterally releases classified information without authorization. Shag asks: “Can action by Congress trump the [...]

An Unwarranted Attack on the House and the Ethics Committee

In an oddly speaking complaint, Representative Charlie Rangel, represented by New York attorney Jay Goldberg, has filed suit in federal court against the Speaker, the Clerk and several former members and staff of the House Ethics Committee, including Zoe Lofgren, the former Democratic chair, and Jo Bonner, the former Republican ranking member. Cutting through the [...]

Recusal Confusion- A Final Post on the Waters Case

Now I will turn to the other major issue in the Waters case, which relates to Outside Counsel findings that (1) Representative Waters properly recused herself and her office from the OneUnited matter following the September 9, 2008 meeting, and (2) Mikael Moore, her chief of staff (and grandson), violated her instructions and improperly remained [...]