Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican from Eastern Washington, should be ashamed of himself for allowing the House ethics committee he chairs to turn into a dysfunctional joke. It is an embarrassment to the state, to the country and even to the Republican Party that swept to power on the promise of clean government.
The Olympian’s editorial board doesn’t mince words in this editorial sticking it to Hastings for fiddling while the House burns around him.
It’s time for Hastings to stop his petty squabbling with the Democrats and start doing his job. Lord knows there is plenty to do at a time when one representative is headed for prison for accepting bribes and former House ma-jority leader Tom DeLay is under indictment in a Texas campaign finance scheme. Yet Congress has no functional ethics committee to hold elected leaders accountable.
The Republican leadership gave Hastings the job exactly because of his reputation as a do-nothing congressman, and they are getting exactly what they expected: absolutely nothing. Last year, committee chair Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO), two other members, and most of the committee staff were purged after the panel twice voted to admonish Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). After a year under Hastings “leadership” a new chief of staff is still not in position, and investigators haven’t even been hired. Meanwhile, seven lawmakers have either been indicted, convicted, pled guilty, or are under investigation for bribery, money laundering, conspiracy and other crimes.
“There is no ethics enforcement in Congress today, and it’s inexcusable,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative monitor of government ethics.
“No matter what level of corruption the members of Congress engage in, the ethics committees do nothing,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the liberal-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It’s a national embarrassment.”
It certainly is, and it’s humiliating that a Washington state lawmaker is part of the problem.
My has Hastings star risen. Formerly just an embarrassment to the 4th CD, he’s now humiliating the entire state, prompting both the Olympian and the Tacoma News Tribune to editorialize against Hastings inexcusable recalcitrance. Hmmm… I wonder when the Seattle Times editorial board — which fancies itself our state’s paper of record — will weigh in on Hastings shameful performance as chair of the Ethics Committee?