Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hoping It Will Go Away

Republican leaders are silencing members of former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. House rules require that staff members in a vacated congressional office gain the approval of the House clerk's office. That office, under the control of the Republican leadership has refused to allow those staff members still working in the 50th District office to speak to the press.

The North County Times has the story, as well as reaction from congressional watchdog organizations:

When the North County Times requested interviews last week with two of Cunningham's former staffers, the workers said they were under orders from the House clerk's office not to speak to reporters.

"I am not allowed to talk to the press; because of the clerk, I can't give interviews," Cunningham's former chief of staff Harmony Allen said last week when questioned about how the scandal has affected the lives of the fallen congressman's former staff members.


A spokesman for Washington-based congressional watchdog group Public Citizen said he believed House Republican leaders were inappropriately restricting access to the press and thus cheating the public of learning more about Cunningham's conduct in office.

"This is a self-serving political gag order and designed to protect the image of the House and specifically Republican members," said Craig Holman of the group, described as a nonprofit organization that "advocates" for consumers.


"By denying transparency, which is a purported goal of this Congress, through restricted access to (former U.S.) Rep. Cunningham's staff, the committee has eliminated any chance for insight into the inner workings of Cunningham's office of corruption," said Naomi Steiner, a spokeswoman for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington...

No transparency, gag orders to keep people from talking, misapplication of the rules......

And, we should expect the Republican led congress to pursue ethics and lobbying reforms?