When you set the ethics bar as low as they do in Washington, DC, it’s easy for just about anyone to clear it.
In our nation’s capital, the permanent political class gets to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us. Part of the problem is that they get to make the rules. The other part of the problem is that they get to decide who decides if they broke the rules.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the news that Spencer Bachus has been “cleared” of ethics charges related to insider trading. A look at the history of ethics enforcement in Washington offers plenty of evidence that we simply can’t rely on The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to protect the American public from the ethical misconduct of the permanent political class.
This is the same Congressional ethics establishment which has said it is acceptable for politicians to profit personally from earmarks that they insert into bills that build highways, light rail systems, or other improvements near their own real estate. And it is the same establishment that gave Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) a wrist slap for activities that would have landed any regular citizen in jail.
Spencer Bachus says the OCE’s dismissal is a “welcome conclusion to a destructive and disruptive, media-generated assault.” But what was reported in my book and the media coverage that followed was simply showing Rep. Bachus’s aggressive options trading and how the dates of those trades corresponded to his legislative activities.
The problem of ethics reform in Washington did not end with the insider trading law recently passed by Congress. It is a problem that plagues our political culture–and will continue to do so, until the voters apply political consequences.