Breitbart News Senior Editor Peter Schweizer, head of the Government Accountability Institute and author of Clinton Cash, talked about the ill-fated effort by House Republicans to reform the ethics oversight system on Wednesday’s Breitbart News Daily.
“So you’ve got this Office of Government Ethics and this sort of ethics process that was set up by the Democrats, after they’d won the House in 2006,” Schweizer explained to SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam. “Essentially, the idea was, we’re not going to have an ethics committee the way that we used to have it, where politicians would vote on the ethics of fellow politicians. We’d set up this independent office.”
“Now, the independent office is not perfect by any means,” he continued. “Both Republicans and Democrats complain that it basically throws stuff out there, and then when the charges are proven to be not true, people assume that the charges are true. The proposed reform by some Republicans – by no means all – was to essentially take control back of that ethics office and allow politicians to police themselves.”
“For me, personally, that’s a terrible idea,” said Schweizer. “Donald Trump came out against it. Some of the Republican leadership came out against it. And so, fortunately, now it appears to be dead, at least for now.”
Kassam described it as “bizarre” for House Republicans to begin the new session with what was widely seen as an effort to eliminate the Office of Government Ethics, after President-elect Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of D.C. corruption.
“Talk about terrible optics,” Schweizer agreed. “The presidential election is won partly on the theme of ‘drain the swamp.’ Three out of four Americans believe there’s widespread corruption in Washington, D.C. And what do these guys on Capitol Hill decide the first thing they’re gonna do? They’re gonna try to basically take over the ethics office. Talk about the worst sort of optics!”
“That’s what I think people are so frustrated about. They have the sense that elected officials don’t get the reason why they’re voting for some people and not other people. By no means is it the only issue, but this whole issue of ethics and corruption and self-dealing, this sense of politicians of entitlement, is a major factor in the reason why they are rejecting some candidates and voting for others. And yet, one of the first things they do after the election, of course, is this kind of ethics reform,” he marveled.
“Ultimately, this is just a reminder to this audience and everyone else: nobody else is going to police these people. The only way you police politicians is by having an informed citizenry, by having exposure to the light and to the facts of what’s going on. That’s one of the things that Breitbart has done so well, one of the things that Andrew felt was so important,” Schweizer said.
When Kassam saluted the work done by the Government Accountability Institute along those lines as well, Schweizer accepted the praise by mournfully noting they have a “target-rich environment” in their hunt for corruption.
“This is the reminder: whether a person has a D or an R after their name, one of the reasons we are skeptical of big government and these big international institutions is that power has this corrupting effect,” he said. “This is just further evidence it doesn’t matter what political party they’re from, you have to watch them constantly because otherwise, they’ll try to take advantage of the situation.”
Kassam bluntly asked, with due apology for his lack of tact: “Which dum-dum was responsible for this?”
“It seems like Congressman Goodlatte from Virginia was one of the people driving this,” Schweizer replied, noting that “as is often the case, it’s hard to pin it on a particular person.”
“Here’s the good news: when it became clear what was going on, you first of all had Donald Trump come out and say this is a stupid idea; we have bigger priorities that we need to focus on. Good for him. Bravo,” Schweizer applauded. “You had Paul Ryan come out and essentially say the same thing. Good for him. Bravo.”
“Again, the fact that this was exposed and it came out, that people rose up, that is so important. They rose up and said, ‘We reject this.’ It led Congressman Goodlatte and others to retreat on this very, very important issue. It just shows again they know that these kinds of moves are not popular with people. They hope to kind of slide them in when we’re not paying attention, and that’s why we need to be vigilant,” he urged.
“I think they will try to resurrect this at some later date,” he warned. “What they will probably try to do is, a senior member of Congress will probably attach this to some crucial bill, essentially giving cover to people in Congress to say, ‘Well, I had to vote for this bill because it dealt with veterans’ benefits or veterans’ affairs, and the fact that this ethics reform was attached to it, I couldn’t help it, so I had to vote for it.’”
“We have to watch this constantly, and we have to remind them that, look, we recognize the current ethics system is not perfect, but giving you guys more control of it is not the answer,” Schweizer advised.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.