"Maybe it's time for the House ethics committee to find a new name."
So actually began an article at CBSNews.com's Political Hotsheet blog Tuesday entitled "Ethics Committee Clears Seven, But Questions Persist":
Last week, the bipartisan committee, known formally as the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, cleared seven lawmakers who had been accused of trading millions in federal dollars for campaign contributions.
The exoneration came despite a report from a separate group, the Office of Congressional Ethics, that found defense contractors that received the federal money (which came in the form of earmarks) believed their contributions were directly tied to federal money coming their way.
After discussing some of the contradictory actions taken by both groups last week, the piece took an even more surprising turn (h/t Ed Morrissey):
The House ethics committee was in the news last week for another reason as well: It admonished powerful Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel for accepting trips to the Caribbean sponsored by corporate interests, in violation of Congressional gift rules.
But the admonishment was toothless, and the committee has not yet issued findings in the other issues swirling around Rangel, among them alleged fundraising violations and failures to pay taxes, a particularly ironic charge considering that Rangel is chair the House Ways and Means Committee.
The committee found that Rangel and other lawmakers who took the trip were unaware of the corporate sponsorship, though it said staffers for Rangel were aware of the connection. This despite the fact that as the conservative advocacy group the National Legal and Policy Center shows here, signs for corporate sponsors were visible at the event.
Wow. CBS citing a conservative advocacy group to implicate a media darling like Rangel.
Somebody pinch me.
Of course, as Ed Morrissey wrote Tuesday, it wouldn't have mattered if the "Ethics" committee ruled more harshly on any of these violators:
Besides, even if the Ethics Committee had concluded that these seven lawmakers were also lawbreakers, what would have happened? Nancy Pelosi would have applied the Rangel standard, which holds that one has to have committed treason to have to suffer consequences for ethics violations, or have been a Republican, which would be worse. At worst, it would have resulted in a public scolding, but nothing radical like losing one’s committee assignment. After all, Democrats have an agenda to cram down America’s throat! Corrupt members in the caucus is merely a distraction.