Boehner walks fine line on ethics office

Nov. 18, 2010 at 7:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, may run into trouble with his base over his opposition to the Office of Congressional Ethics, activists say.

The Ohio Liberty Council, the state's umbrella Tea Party organization, supports efforts to strengthen the OCE -- created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in 2008 -- and is advising House GOP members to eschew any attempts to weaken the office, The Hill reported Thursday.

"If they move in the opposite direction of transparency that this office provides, I think we will be very upset about that," Chris Littleton, president of the Ohio Liberty Council and the Cincinnati Tea Party, told The Hill. "Symbolically, it's a huge problem for them. They should be as transparent as they can be. Any opposition to that would be inappropriate on their part."

Pelosi created the office amid fierce opposition from both the GOP and within her own Democratic Party ranks. Republican leaders were united in trying to scuttle the office, which squeaked through with a 207-206 vote. The office, which has completed 60 investigations and forwarded a dozen cases to the House ethics committee for review, requires congressional reauthorization every year.

Boehner has consistently opposed the ethics office, and while many experts expect him to try to weaken it in the next session, spokesman Michael Steel said the issue is up in the air.

"We haven't made a decision with regard to the OCE," Steele told The Hill in an e-mail message.

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