Ethically Challenged?

Posted September 26, 2005 at 6:25pm

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group, unveiled a Web site Monday dedicated to the “13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress” — although House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who has attracted a lot of attention over potential violations of ethics rules, is not one of them. [IMGCAP(1)]

CREW argues that the media and the public should focus on more than just DeLay’s ethics problems, so it has has set up the Web site beyonddelay.org. The CREW site says it wants to “galvanize” the House and Senate ethics committees into action, criticizing those panels for having “lain largely dormant over the past years.”

The lawmakers that CREW singled out include 10 House Members and three Senators. Only two are Democrats — Reps. William Jefferson (La.) and Maxine Waters (Calif.). The Republicans are Sens. Conrad Burns (Mont.), Bill Frist (Tenn.) and Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Reps. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Duke Cunningham (Calif.), Tom Feeney (Fla.), Marilyn Musgrave (Colo.), Bob Ney (Ohio), Richard Pombo (Calif.), Rick Renzi (Ariz.) and Charles Taylor (N.C.).

Another notable lawmaker who didn’t make this list is Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). The ethics committee soon will conduct a preliminary investigation into whether Conyers allowed political work to be done out of his Congressional office — a potential violation of federal law — and House insiders expect the panel to expand that into a full-blown probe. Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, spent several years on Conyers’ staff.

Naomi Seligman, a CREW spokeswoman, said Conyers was not on the list because Conyers “is currently being investigated by the ethics committee.”

Line-Item Veto, Back Again? Sens. George Allen (R-Va.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.) plan to unveil a resolution today to create a constitutional amendment giving the president a line-item veto on appropriations bills.

Given the challenges of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, “it’s important for the president to have the ability to eliminate some of the waste that Congress is so efficient in producing,” said Allen spokesman David Snepp.

An amend would be needed because the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a 1996 law giving the president the authority to cut specific projects from spending bills without having to veto the entire measure.

Another One. Time Warner continues adding Republicans to its Washington office. Cameron Gilreath, a senior legislative counsel to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), will join the media giant’s Washington, D.C. operation as a director of public policy.

Gilreath comes aboard just weeks after Tim Berry, who was chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), joined the company as a top lobbyist.

Gilreath previously worked as a legislative assistant to Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.).
— John Bresnahan, Emily Pierce and Tory Newmyer