Ethic and Diversity in Congress

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Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez
Universidad del Este

PUAG 610
Workshop Five
Ethic and Diversity in Congress

Nelson Perdomo
Prof. Maritza Rossy

Ethics in the U.S. Congress is an example in the world. American Congressman must follow a very strict conduct code. The code of ethics requires an irreproachable conduct. The Congressman should not just be very ethical in their behavior but is constantly observed by Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives (OCE). Consider the recent case of the Representative Bill Owens: On August 30, 2012, the Office of Congressional Ethics transmitted a referral to the Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives regarding Representative Bill Owens. Representative Owens may have accepted payment of travel expenses for an officially connected trip to Taiwan from an impermissible source, resulting in an impermissible gift, in violation of federal law and House rules. Representative Owens may have accepted payment of travel expenses for an officially connected trip to Taiwan, when that trip was in some part planned, organized, requested, or arranged by agents of a foreign principal, in violation of House rules. OCE Recommendation

The Board of the OCE recommended that the Committee on Ethics further review the first allegation as there is substantial reason to believe that Representative Owens accepted payment of travel expenses for an officially connected trip to Taiwan from an impermissible source, resulting in an impermissible gift, in violation of federal law and House rules. This case shows an example of how the representative is observed

The Committee
The U.S. House Committee on Ethics, created in 1967, is unique. The Committee is the only standing committee of the House whose membership is evenly divided between each political party. The Committee includes five members of each party. Also, unlike other committees, the day-to-day work of the Committee on Ethics is conducted by a staff that is nonpartisan by rule. Under House rules, the Committee has the jurisdiction to administer travel, gift, financial disclosure, outside income, and other regulations; advise members and staff; issue advisory opinions and investigate potential ethics violations. Ethics rules and regulations have grown substantially since the 1960s. Questions about ethical conduct and the enforcement of ethics rules have been around since the establishment of the first Congress. In 1798, Representative Matthew Lyon of Vermont spat on Representative Roger Griswold of Connecticut during a vote. The entire House heard evidence in the case of “disorderly behavior” and a motion to expel Lyon fell two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed. The Constitution authorizes the House to discipline its members. However, the House had no uniform or consistent mechanism for self-discipline until the 1960s. Some allegations of misconduct were investigated in an ad hoc manner by special committees, and some issues went directly to the floor of the House. Questions about official misconduct and the need for a source of reliable, accessible information led to the creation of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in 1967. At the start of the 112th Congress, in 2011, the name was changed to the Committee on Ethics. Under House Rule X, the Committee is authorized to enforce standards of conduct for members, officers and employees; to investigate alleged violations of any law, rule or regulation; and to make recommendations to the House for further action. The Committee has sole jurisdiction over the interpretation of the Code of Official Conduct. The House has added to or changed its rules of conduct several times. In 1977, the House adopted the first financial disclosure rules and limits on outside income, gifts, the franking privilege and foreign travel. Rules were also modified by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 and...
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