Spitzer-gate influences House ethics bill

March 12, 2008 at 9:01 AM

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed ethics reforms creating a third-party watchdog after a year of in-fighting over the proposal.

The House passed the measure 229 to 192 Tuesday night to create an Office of Congressional Ethics that seats six board members who are not current legislators, The Hill, a Washington newspaper, reports. The OCE will be able to conduct independent investigations against House members and determine what measures should be taken.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, spent a lot of political capital to get enough support to pass the bill as veteran lawmaker, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., kept the debate open against criticisms the extension violated Democratic House rules.

Independent observers said allegations that New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer used the services of an elite call-girl service gave the ethics measure the momentum needed to pass.

Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio, who won his seat amid the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, said the measure was necessary "because the American public has lost faith in the institution of Congress and we ignore that lack of faith at our own peril," The Hill report says.

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