"You can’t fire the cop and then say you’re against crime," says League of Women Voters

Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters today called on Speaker-elect John Boehner to retain the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in the upcoming 112th Congress and to maintain the OCE’s duties, powers and structure.

"The retention of the OCE -- or its demise -- will signal the direction the new leadership will be taking the House of Representatives on ethics issues," according to Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League.

"We are deeply concerned that many in Congress, apparently wishing to return to a time when there was no meaningful ethics enforcement in the House of Representatives, have called for steps that would substantially weaken the OCE," she said.

"You can’t fire the cop and then say you’re against crime," according to MacNamara.

In the 2010 elections, "the American people did not vote for less ethics and more corruption," MacNamara said. "The retention of a strong and effective Office of Congressional Ethics is essential to regaining the public’s trust."

The League congratulated Representative Boehner, the incoming Speaker, as well Representative Pelosi, the current Speaker, for the quality of their appointments to the governing board of the OCE. Each appointed half of the independent board’s current members. "Under their leadership, the OCE has functioned effectively, but fairly, in investigating possible ethics violations and reporting its findings to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct or the public, as appropriate," MacNamara said.

The League urged that the OCE not be weakened in any way. The group said that the OCE must retain its independent, bipartisan leadership structure, the ability to issue public reports, begin investigations on its own initiative, and hire and supervise an independent staff. The League also called for strengthening the OCE by ensuring that it has access to subpoena power.

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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.