(CBS) — A secret vote, and then a quick about-face by Republicans on whether to keep the Office of Congressional Ethics.
At least one Illinois congressmen openly backed the idea to dump the office, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.
His West Chicago office dark, Republican Peter Roskam likely in D.C. for the swearing-in of the new Congress. But Roskam was in the nation’s capital before that, voting to abolish the office of congressional ethics, in a secret, surprise, partisan meeting.
“Even if there were valid reasons for doing it, the optics were very poor,” says North Central College political science professor Stephen Caliendo.
He questioned the vote’s timing. So did president-elect Donald Trump. Lawmakers reversed the decision today.
“I think they woke up in the morning and realized the headlines were going to be bad and the public pressure was going to be strong,” Caliendo says.
The independent office was put in place in 2008 to probe alleged lawmaker misconduct. Roskam, along with other Illinois congressmen, including Jesse Jackson Jr., Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis, had been past, investigative subjects.
Trying to nail down how the area’s other Republican congressmen voted is like pulling teeth. Calls, emails and tweets to various offices, including Roskam’s, went unanswered.
The exception was Adam Kinzinger’s spokesperson, who would only say reforms in that office are needed after much abuse.
Caliendo says the GOP legislators should inform their constituents about how they voted on the ethics issue this week.