Pelosi may be taking a lesson from Speaker John Boehner. The Ohio Republican has had little patience for ethical missteps in his rank and file. Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), for instance, resigned within hours after shirtless photos that he sent to a woman he met on Craigslist were uncovered in February. While Boehner has said that he did not speak to Lee, it is an example of how GOP lawmakers have moved to try to get away from the "culture of corruption" reputation they gained during DeLay's tenure.
Boehner hasn't ousted everyone with ethical problems, however. He did allow freshman Rep. David Rivera (Fla.) to maintain his position as he faced charges of personal and campaign corruption.
Pelosi's action may be for naught. Weiner has continued to maintain that he will not resign, and ethics experts are undecided over whether his behavior would rise to expulsion from the House.
"It's going to be a letter of admonition unless they find out more," said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "I think they're going to be stretching. ... Every time a staffer picks up a phone to make weekend plans, you can't have that as a misuse of official resources."
Additionally, Sloan said it could be "risky" to go after general sexual inappropriateness since there have been allegations against other Members in the past.
Still, ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino noted that the ethics process is political, which could work against Weiner.
"Even if it's shown that there wasn't another violation, the mere discredit he's brought to the House is enough to be a violation," McKenna Long & Aldridge's Passantino said. "At the end of the day, the Members tend to look at the public mood and there is a long process gauging how much or how little the public will tolerate depending on who is controlling the House."
Amanda Becker contributed to this report.comments powered by Disqus