Congressional Ethics?

by E. J. Sieyes

During the past year 60 Minutes aired several program segments dealing with political abuse and corruption. Most recently on October 20th they revealed the open secret about the abuse of campaign funds by both Republican and Democrat elected officials. Why are we surprised? More so, why do we accept such behavior? After all are our elected officials, our Senators and Congressmen, supposed to be virtuous and set examples for the rest of us? Instead they exploit their election to office for political greed and personal financial gain.

Within months of the 60 Minutes airing of an expose on Congressional insider trading the Congress adopted the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge Act, or Stock Act, amid great publicity. At a time when public confidence in the Congress dropped below 15%, the Act passed 417 to 2 in the House and 96 to 3 in the Senate.

Earlier this year, with little publicity, Congress quietly repealed the reporting requirement of the Stock Act, essentially gutting the provision with no significant means to check that no insider trading was going on. When two NY Congressmen were asked why this was repealed, the Republican did not reply and the Democrat replied with a boilerplate response, essentially stating that the reporting requirement was too rigorous.

Is there any wonder about why public opinion of Congress has dropped to rock bottom?