Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pelosi's Unique Take on Ethics

Speaker Pelosi hammered home the theme of ethics in government for years, and indeed, made it a centerpiece of the Democratic '06 campaign. So where is the ethical standard set when Pelosi seeks to appoint William Jefferson, he of the ongoing "cold cash" investigation -- to a spot on the House Panel that deals directly with the important -- and often classified -- issue of Homeland Security?

House Republicans are wondering about that exact question.

[Rep.] Blunt blasted Speaker Nancy Pelosi . . . for her endorsement of Jefferson for the Homeland Security Committee, calling the selection "ludicrous."

"I won't support that - it's such a contradiction of what the Speaker said," Blunt told reporters, referring to Pelosi's promise to run the most ethical Congress in history.

The FBI found $90,000 in cash in Jefferson's freezer when they raided his home last year as part of an investigation into whether he accepted bribes related to a telecommunications deal in Africa. Although the FBI probe is ongoing and the congressman has not been indicted, the ethics cloud hanging over Jefferson's head has caused headaches for Pelosi. Pelosi stripped Jefferson of his seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee last year. That move angered members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who argued that Jefferson had not been indicted or found guilty of any crime and that ousting him from the tax-writing panel created an unfair precedent. Despite the demotion and the ongoing FBI investigation, Jefferson was reelected in November, leaving Pelosi in a quandary about how to handle his committee assignments. Before the recess, Pelosi announced that Jefferson would be placed on the Homeland Security panel.
. . . .
Jefferson's nomination to the panel likely will come to the floor as part of a slate of new committee assignments. Usually, nominations are non-controversial and are approved by unanimous consent, but Blunt indicated that Republicans plan to call for a recorded vote on Jefferson's committee assignment, a move that would force members to approve or disapprove of his selection for the panel.

Read the whole story here

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