Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ethics Committee Investigation Stumbles Out of the Gate

Committee letter asks congressmen to investigate themselves

The House Ethics Committee investigation into abuse of pages may have already doomed itself to failure, by committing one of the most glaring errors possible in any investigation: Asking those with a potential interest in witholding facts to discover the facts. The committee sent a letter to House members yesterday, asking each representative to contact pages they've sponsored and get back to it with any information:

In order to assist the Investigative Subcommittee with its inquiry, we also request that you contact current and former House Pages sponsored by your office for the purpose of learning whether any of those individuals had any inappropriate communications or interactions with former Representative Foley or any other Member of the House.

The letter is signed by committee chairman Doc Hastings and senior minority member Howard Berman.

Let us assume, in the worst case scenario, that a congressman had "inappropriate interactions" with a House page he himself had sponsored. How would that information find its way into the clumsy hands of the Ethics Committee?

Furthermore, the congressmen are apparently not expected to contact House pages from their districts who had been sponsored by their predecessors. In the worst case, for freshmen representatives, the investigation will therefore only encompass the years 2005 and 2006.

It seems clear that the "investigation" does not have a broad mandate, that it has been cobbled together in the infrequent moments its members can spare from their reelection campaigns and that the House leadership is dedicating a minimum of time and energy to it, in hopes of buying time until the issue fades from public memory.

No comments: