Wednesday, January 27, 2010

House Ethics Committee Makes It Harder to Police Ethics

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 7:03 PM

click to enlarge Brian Kelsey
  • Brian Kelsey
Ever since then-Rep. Brian Kelsey filed his ethics complaint against House Speaker Kent Williams last year, lawmakers have been desperately looking for a way to stop it from ever happening again. We're not talking about sexual harassment at the Capitol. Who cares about that? No, we're talking about ethics complaints against legislators. That's the real problem here. In a rare display of bipartisanship, the inaptly named House Ethics Committee dismissed Kelsey's complaint with little debate at the start of last year's session. It was self-preservation. Who knows where it might have led? It could have spawned more such complaints against other lawmakers. As the Paul Stanley sex-and-blackmail scandal since has underlined, the legislature is filled with reprobates. Now, the same committee has voted to bar legislators from filing complaints unless they have personal knowledge of the offense. Call it the Kelsey Rule. Under this new standard, we guess Kelsey could not have filed his complaint unless he had been present in the legislature's parking garage, perhaps hunting for cigarette butts, on that boozy night when Williams supposedly suggested that Rep. Susan Lynn remove her clothes. To his credit, House GOP leader Jason Mumpower noted this could make it harder to file legitimate complaints. But of course, he understands that's the point. Covering the legislature's ass is what the ethics committee is all about.

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