Wednesday, June 29, 2005

House Ethics Panel Breaks Impasse

The Hill will report on Thursday that "The House ethics committee is back in business." Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and ranking Democrat Alan Mollohan (WV) reached agreement Wednesday on how to organize committee staff, a decision which will finally allow the committee to organize and begin functioning. Mollohan told reporter Alexander Bolton that he thought staff members could be hired over the next three weeks, which would allow the committee to begin investigations after the August recess.

The "agreement in principle" between the chairman and ranking member meant, Mollohan said, that "We are in agreement that we can move forward in strict accordance of the rules and hire staff by majority vote of the full committee. ... The chairman and ranking member will work through the chief counsel/staff director hired by majority vote of the full committee."

Bolton adds that even though this agreement has been reached, "
Some suspicion lingers between Hastings and Mollohan ... Mollohan said the agreement would be put in writing in such a way 'so that as we use these words we understand these words to have the same meaning.'"

I hope that this agreement will hold, so that the ethics committee can finally get down to business and begin investigations into very serious allegations of ethical abuses by various members of the House, including Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Reps. Jim McDermott and Duke Cunningham. It's about time these issues were resolved.


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