Republicans Fumble Ethics Committee Issue; Sign of Things to Come?

Republicans in Congress were supposed to spend this week celebrating their majorities in the House and Senate as well as gearing for the first Republican president since George W. Bush. But no. They managed to shoot themselves in the collective foot by first voting to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics and then reversing course when President-elect Trump objected via Twitter.

In a less-than-brilliant move, Republican lawmakers met behind closed doors and voted to give themselves complete control over the OCE, an independent body set up in 2008 in response to scandal. Without its independence, the office is meaningless.

Democrats, of course, pounced calling it a deepening of the swamp. Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly did not support the move to gut the office although very little happens without their say so.

But it took Donald Trump’s tweets (two of them back to back as 140 characters was apparently not enough to object). And in another case of one Trump hand not knowing what the big guy was thinking, top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to defend the neutering of the ethics office.

Later in the morning, Trump weighed in and said the ethics office should not be a priority.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it
10:03 AM – 3 Jan 2017
8,220 8,220 Retweets 28,489 28,489 likes

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
……..may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS
10:07 AM – 3 Jan 2017
7,318 7,318 Retweets 29,155 29,155 likes

Republicans who backed the original move apparently felt the OCE unfairly targeted Republican in the past. US Rep. Randy ‘‘Duke’’ Cunningham, Republican of California served more than seven years in prison on bribery charges. Former US Rep. Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio was charged in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Former Louisiana US Rep. William Jefferson, a Democrat, was convicted on corruption in a separate case.

The entire ethics office debacle shows not only that Republicans aren’t on the same page as their soon-to-be president, but that are disconnected to the general public.

Of course, in a sign of the times, the Republicans reversed themselves based on two tweets from Trump.