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On Monday, a federal holiday, the House Republican Conference in DC privately voted to strip the Office of Congressional Ethics of its teeth.
Why does this matter to Missourians?
Well, turns out Rep. Sam Graves, who represents most of northern Missouri, is a case study for Republicans wanting to weaken the Office.
From McClatchy DC:
Members of Congress reportedly cited an 8-year-old ethics investigation into Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, at a closed-door meeting Monday night, as an example of why they needed to rein in their own independent ethics watchdog.
Graves’ fellow lawmakers eventually exonerated him, but not before the congressman had spent significant time and money defending himself against what he complained at the time were “frivolous, anonymous allegations.”
On top of that, the Sunshine Foundation has opened up a crowd-sourced spreadsheet for constituents to ask their elected officials if they voted for this amendment.
The only Missouri Republican representative who answered was Vicky Hartzler, who represents Columbia to Sedalia along I-70. She voted to undermine the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics.
From the Springfield News-Leader:
Rep. Vicky Hartzler supported the controversial attempt to weaken Congress’ independent ethics panel during a closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Monday night.
By Tuesday morning, Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, and other GOP lawmakers had reversed course and moved to delay the ethics changes — after an outcry from good-government groups and criticism from President-elect Donald Trump.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Billy Long, R-Springfield, said he did not attend Monday night’s closed-door GOP session meeting because of a scheduling conflict. But the congressman's spokeswoman, Hannah Smith, said he did not agree with the GOP's proposal to "gut" the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Missourians voted for candidates who promised to clean up Jefferson City. Now their elected officials in Washington are taking steps to roll back anti-corruption measures. Hmm.