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The Office of Congressional Ethics


Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman and ranking member of the House ethics task force, will soon recommend that an independent "Office of Congressional Ethics" (OCE) be created to initiate ethics complaints against House members. If done properly, the OCE will serve to shore up the House Ethics Committee, long a toothless watchdog of House Members who seem more willing than ever to cross ethical lines. The New York Times editoralizes about this today.

One of the key features of the OCE is that if complaints against lawmakers are ultimately dismissed, the dismissals would have to be publicly disclosed. As Rep. Capuano said, "Transparency is the key to the whole thing. People have to know that the ethics process is working." We don't know the details of the required disclosure yet, but we at Sunlight would respectfully remind Mr. Capuano that real transparency means timely disclosure in an easily accessible format on the Internet.

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