House Ethics, Farenthold, expanded, Republican, Paul Ryan

Ethics Probe Against Farenthold Expanded

By Susan Kuebler

Earlier on Thursday the House Ethics Committee announced that it had expanded its probe against California Republican Brent Farenthold.  The new charges against him are not related to sexual misbehaviors, but instead include some pretty big NO-NOs for Members of Congress.

Number 1:”allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation by Representative Farenthold or any person acting on his behalf, toward any member of his congressional staff while they were employed in his congressional office.”

This was the original allegation against Farenthold and was the reason an ethics investigation was opened up against him.  But obviously the investigators uncovered further charges while talking with members of his staff.  And two of these are well-known ethical violations for anyone who has ever worked on Capitol Hill.

Number 2: “allegations that Representative Farenthold’s congressional staff may have used House resources, including staff time, to benefit his congressional campaigns.”

The salary of every single congressional staff member is paid for by your tax dollars.  They also receive generous benefits, including vacation time, sick leave, and disability benefits, that are not usually available to most American workers.  So you have the right to expect that when they are on the job (usually 9 to 5) they are working for their constituents.

Yes, staffers have a vested interest in ensuring that the member for whom they work is re-elected, and they are free to do so on their own time and dime. But not yours.  Having been a full-time, paid staffer for three members of Congress, it is always made abundantly clear that campaign business is never conducted during normal business hours.  “If” you wish to help out the campaign you can come in early, stay late, or work on weekends.

Which brings us to charged number 3: “allegations that Representative Farenthold, or any person acting on his behalf, may have required that members of his congressional staff to work on his campaigns.”

This is wrong on several levels.  First, there are congressional staffers who are professionals in their areas of expertise such as dealing with Social Security claims, or the Veterans Affairs department. They often move from office to office depending on election outcomes, or better job offers.  They are not necessarily political supporters of their Member.  Second, this also implies that staff members were forced, against their wishes, to work late at night or give up their weekends, in order to conduct campaign business.  Staffers are certainly able to give up their free time “if” they want to do so, but “requiring” them to do so is not ethical.

Number 4: “allegations that Representative Farenthold may have made false statements or omissions in his testimony to the Committee.”

Oops.  Looks like somebody on his staff may have let the cat out of the bag when talking to Committee investigators.  In any case, this does not look good for “Pajama Boy” Farenthold.  Was he thinking that a Republican-led Ethics Committee would not come down on one of its own?  Did he think the rules didn’t apply to him?  There is no way of knowing what was going on in that adorable little mind of his, but it looks like he’s been caught out.

While most people are focusing on Allegation Number 1, the members of the House Ethics Committee will definitely see Numbers, 2, 3, and 4 just as bad, if not worse.  Representative Farenthold has already announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018.  Did Speaker Ryan know about 2, 3, and 4 when he urged Farenthold to resign immediately?

Farenthold should resign now.  He has betrayed his constituents, as well as his oath of office, and no longer deserves a seat in Congress.

"All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well". Julian of Norwich.

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