A Federal Case II; 12; Congressional Ethics: what's Right what's Wrong and How to Fix It
This is a federal case from Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you an examination of current issues facing our nation and its capital city. Here is any R.E.M. correspondent am Zille. Last September. Like now it is a new cue Senator Joseph tydings of Maryland of trying to influence two government agencies on behalf of a company in which he owns some stock not too long ago Senator George Murphy of California admitted he took $20000 a year from technicolor corporation for serving as a sort of consultant. Both these men were defeated recently in their re-election campaigns to Congress. Both were involved in what might be called an ethical scandal partings and Murphy are not alone. Other congressmen have been involved in more clear cut cases of wrongdoing. Adam Clayton Powell of New York and Senator Thomas Dott of Connecticut to name two. Moreover there are others former senator Daniel Brewster of Maryland was criminally indicted for exacting bribes
recently just a few months ago. Two men still in Congress Senator Russell Long of Louisiana and House Majority Whip Hale Boggs were accused of accepting favors from a Baltimore contractor in exchange for promoting his underground garage for the House of Representatives. The point is every so often some member of Congress makes the news in a manner he would rather forget. It's a question of ethics congressional ethics. What are they are they formally written out someplace. If a senator say has done something wrong who judges him. Wishes him how or is it like former Senator Paul Douglas used to say about his fellow senators men tinges sovereignty can easily feel that the king can do no role on the members of Congress. Really too close to God to judge can these men do anything they want to. How well-behaved are they anyway. On that subject here's former Sen. Joseph S. Clark of Pennsylvania running
congressional ethics by and large no better no worse than business ethics or labor ethics. They're not good. Here's the administrative assistant of Senator Rick KS of New Jersey Francis HENDERSON Well I think he'll play here at home with me and probably have better than the average representative of the country. And James Boyd the former administrative assistant to Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut. His testimony is that Senator to be formally censured by the Senate. Can an uncommon very wide spread of the statue of monarchy that have been there have been at least 35 or 40 congressman and for Kate in public. We can only guess at the number of monkeys. The
fact that it's not anybody anytime for James Boyd word of God for more than 12 years. He says he was devoted to Sen.. Yet boy reached a point when his conscience bothered him. It was a question of ethics. He wrote a book called above the law story here in a telephone interview he tried to explain why Senator Dodd did what he did and I recognize him from the cover. I think people in the part of the drag on everything in this compelling. Back there in their own right along with a
rifle and demand to come into contact with people in Iraq. And so we wanted to have the same thing from our traveling on them and get that type of hide away that had occurred to them and I think we got to thinking and have a good life with rubbing elbows with what didn't and don't like what could have been there
was the administrative assistant a longtime member of the House of Representatives Charles E. Bennett from Florida. You could call Charles Bennett a kind of crusader who will get on the phone explain why he grew up and people Florida 20 a lot of analysts. That is the father with a public official in the U.S. weathermen in Iraq and the father of the Woodrow Wilson. Back when even when you're the one that went never to go and leave right and you know that a lot and feel it and it has and so Congress and maybe executive branch of government administration when he started serving had several remember Eric Von and the Green Knight and they were you Congressman I think they were
involved by it right. So he started and it isn't. Bill Sammon the House Committee on I think the stabbing of Court of Ethics and other things like that. Congressman Bennett is one of the men responsible for the ethics committees in both Congress and I asked him how come. Well he's been in involved in this for a real long time he came to Congress like for tonight and they have a you know they have a congressional prayer group up here where they were out of this prayer group a few congressmen started talking about the need for a code of ethics for government service. I don't know that exact name them but that's my mother now and that they started working on this. Granted up that a man out of principle there. There are very broad and I think like put in a hard day's work for you know that's very meaningful. I mean I don't have the country or the Federal Service never had a code of ethics and the
first one but the head and it was davening like that and then it'll happen and I got a lot of government official is that women are not following the meeting but they will serve in the commission had read that it worked well by an effort and the and the right direction. Anyway this was the beginning and I think they were I am wrong. I just kept plugging along with them and out of. At first when it comes up that so many and I think it was a long while now but now that often problems and the gospel of it. Most people thought Congressman but the congressman is not in the dark. Well there are a lot of people that think in the right light and a lot of people think it's rude. And of course it isn't necessarily
true because he'll probably bend over backwards to defend a brother Congressman. The narrative Anyways got that kind of image coming over drinking that he returns he got 100 percent disability from the government to return all my money in the federal treasury. I'd like to hear he's only taken 30 thousand dollars hour instead of for just the right the Congress to write. Only thing he does that I mean he's a good guy but sometime in the summer. What is the right and I don't the committee know what they had to do if they had to choose of ranking senior members and to exclude him. I mean I'm not a fan of a controversial one but he was excluded Sewell didn't mention this to me. But Congressman Bennett himself has been quoted as saying he thinks one major reason he was left off the committee is because other members of Congress thought he might start looking into their private 65 years old telling how connected he things Midian
standards and conduct is then going to do nothing committee of good things there right now that study again at your own hobby. They've also they're going to have hearings on campaign finance. They are of course the financial closure of the line. And they've had certain problems that are brought and brought to their attention to Congress money they've ruled on and there are laws in Congress but not laws but still pending the strike and all the money. Sewell didn't go into detail but critics of this committee think it is notable for the matters it does not look into. Here's how Senator Clinton cases assistant Frances Henderson describes the senator's feeling about the present Senate Ethics Committee. He had great respect. Remember it's got to be a chairman of a benefit but it does certainly is not looking at a problem. Senator Clifford Case of New Jersey was one of the first members of Congress to propose a full disclosure policy since he was out campaigning for Republican candidates.
His administrative assistant Francis Henderson explained to me on the telephone what the requirements are on this matter in the Senate at the present time and partly as a result of pressure for a full disclosure bill the Senate out of which requires members get a copy of their income tax record a list of honorarium received during the year. That and country and have a point where the income tax report is kept secret and not available to the public and the reason why so much is going on the public and that is what I believe and the only way the only real sanctions are available in the Congress. As you can imagine members of the Senate cannot enjoy investigating each other very clear in the case and they get to have a whole body and they're all
equal. I am not alone in the five of their own and I'm not like you have investigated a fellow member. Here's why in this case doesn't sit on the Senate Ethics Committee. Why when we because we don't have problems identified with the president of the Senate and because he has for so many parts of the solution which many senators do not favor our particular number some members of the so-called club members who are Committee chairman. German of Senator Joseph Clark had a similar experience. He explains I was not only deliberately kept off from the end result was nothing labored and produced a mouse.
Senator Clarke was one of the early sponsors of the full disclosure measure for senators along with Senator Casey Frances Henderson the case's history with this bill first for a true fan of Congress. I think kind of feel the Senate and a minority leader the majority whip and if I run one at the Senate. Feeling from the first Betty an effort to assist from financially all of that resulted in any hearing I asked her why so many other senators for the first time in co-sponsoring a bill and what their chances of success are. But a time to get quite a rousing
addition five members of the Congress. There was a case from the Senate that he was in charge now and I feel the court's going to get a more forceful than others are worth making a fight for the field as well as Senate. What are the four or five. If they are Bill in the next Congress that would apply. Members of the executive branch as well as the Senator Birch by Indiana has introduced a bill this year which is very similar to Senator cases.
In fact one of the major differences is over the amount of money an individual would be for failing to file accurate income information within a certain period. The case Bill would find him $2000 the by 20000 here with the noise of a fund raising party in the backroom. Senator Birch by explains his intent primarily directed at claims. One of the. Members of the Congress
all the senators have made a point of disclosing their own income. Francis Henderson explains what Senator Casey and the others think is important about getting the full disclosure bill passed. Like if I put it down. Thanks for your mail. But the right isn't so bad after James Boyd has determined the public disclosure is essential but he has a recommendation
from Breivik the firm of the founder I think sensible. Secondly I think that should be the forte of an. The fact that they had dropped any They haven't cooperate because of a conflict in their. General. Number one that they can have any time. Secondly the
employment of a corruption probe and the anonymity of it. When when when the market average and the press of the night then some private financial and the like and the private. Perfect
place for me. Former Senator Joseph as Clark explains how he became involved with the ethics question as I became involved in ethics really through the issue of congressional reform. When I got to the Senate again convinced that the procedures and methods of doing business are obsolete in that mode and I got people interested in trying to change them particularly as far as the Senate is concerned. I wrote two books but actually the ethical side of the thing from my point of view was sort of an offshoot or sideshow to the reform side. I started the custom making a complete financial disclosure of all of my assets and liabilities at the first of every Congress. I'm ashamed a good many other people into doing it also.
Senator Conrad summarized the major areas where reforms are needed under 4 categories. First to Jane is the party leadership structure so that within both parties and both houses a majority will decide party policy and enforce party discipline against recalcitrant members to change the rules and procedures of both houses so the majority can act when it's ready to act in the house it's usually stopped by the recalcitrant action committee chairman and great seniority usually but not always in the south. There describe substitute cooperation. The competition in the relations between the two houses and between the whole Congress and the president or the tug of war between the White House and Congress and the former is where to Miley to one of the house and when the Senate get into a quarrel and they can't get together with the conference committee and therefore nothing happens. There was a period while I was there. Carl Hayden is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the Senate
and who the deuce was the chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the house some equally elderly and almost character and they couldn't get the Conference Committee because the house wouldn't cover the Senate room the Senate wouldn't go to the house. So standing on the dignity. So finally after months and months riser heads prevailed and they met in the room which was reserved for them in the middle between the two houses. We can conduct this and then the fourth is to establish an enforced high ethical standards for members of Congress. But why is it so hard to get these reforms of the dead hand tradition and really senior members of both houses have influence beyond that. Real Right. So that all senators and House members are not equal. Those who've been there longer are more equal and tend to be the chairman of the important and powerful committees and the
juniors are willing to antagonize them because they need their favors from time to time. Then they get to be sort of a built in satisfaction with the status quo. I suppose it's in a sense just like human nature and it's like many another human institution. For example historically it took almost 100 years to get the forms of the House of Congress Commons through in England the first reform bill wasn't passed until 18 34 and did make Norma's changes in the procedures in the House of Commons. All of them excellent salutary changes. That's where the phrase rotten borrow originated where people were members of the House of Commons representing districts in which there may be only one or two voters those members and their family. Well there were three reform bills in England and the last one wasn't passed I don't think it will around eight thousand eighty eight. So it is really over 100 years before they got the House of Commons really reform. I've always felt that the American people really understood how Congress operates. They would never tolerate the present procedures.
What would an ideal Senate be like and I think in most instances the first step. Before the present legislation have a draft it has the proper reference to appropriate congressional committee a committee should be required to act promptly that they ought to be required to act with 30 or 60 days of the time they get the presidential message coming out of committee. There should be proper floor debate. There should be voting up or down of amendments and final passage or defeat of the bill. Similarly when different versions come out of the house of the Senate the Congress can act promptly to resolve their differences come in with a compromise version and Senate or the president could be done. I would say conservative really conservative in one third of the time taken for congressional consideration.
The thought of a senator from Pennsylvania didn't wish to just think of the subject of anthrax. The need for reform has a broader reach said and to make his point. He looked in a book called Congress the Southwest branch and came up with a few literary sources I referred to Arnold who believes that a civilization of the Frova creative merely dominant minority. People in this leader's response obsessed with the challenge when its rulers are intent on advancing years forward looking for civilization to new heights never climb by man the first civilizations to carry into surely great when their leadership is content with the status quo and they identify survival of the success that in the words of Tennyson's Lotus Eaters they say let us alone. My pleasure. CAN WE HAVE TO WAR WITH EVIL. Is there any peace ever climbing up and climbing away. And Charles piece and I was climbing on his famous Reed lecture on the two cultures in the
scientific present revolution also comes to mind. He said I can't help thinking of a nation the public in the last half century like us they had once been fabulously lucky they had become rich as we did by accident. They had acquired immense political skills just as we had a good many of them were tough minded realistic patriotic men met many of them gave their minds to working out ways of keeping going. It would have meant breaking the pattern into which they had crystal. They were fond of the pattern just as we in the Congress are fond of. They never found the will to break it. Arnold Toynbee Alfred Lord Tennyson and CPE snow all say profoundly what can be said simply. There has been little congressional reform in general and not much concerned with ethical standards in particular senators caisson by and some others in Congress think the time is ripe for at least a full disclosure act. The group you've just heard from are all reformers Crusaders if you will. And all of them say this matter hinges on public
support and public pressure. That means this is an 0 reporting from Philadelphia Pennsylvania where the national educational radio network. You've been listening to a federal case weekly examination of a national issue from the perspective of our nation's capital. A federal case is produced with farms provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
- A Federal Case II
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- Producing Organization
- National Educational Radio Network
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- "A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-18-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- APA: A Federal Case II; 12; Congressional Ethics: what's Right what's Wrong and How to Fix It. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-639k7c1d