Rep. O’Halleran Introduces Bill to Strengthen Independent Watchdog Group

March 7, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the Clean Legislating and Ethical Accountability Now (CLEAN) Act, his first piece of legislation, to strengthen the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and hold Washington accountable to the American people.

“When I was elected to represent the 1st District, I made a pledge to my constituents that I would do all I can to promote transparency and accountability in Washington. My first bill does just that,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Elected leaders should not hold themselves to a different standard than the American people. With such a low confidence in Washington, it is time for Congress to eliminate conflicts of interest and abuse of taxpayer dollars on lavish perks.”

Efforts to undermine the Office of Congressional Ethics earlier this year sparked outrage across the country and showed the vulnerability of the watchdog group to political gamesmanship. The CLEAN Act addresses the concerns expressed by many Americans by making the Office of Congressional Ethics a permanent body, protecting it from politically motivated changes, and giving it the tools it needs, including subpoena power, to investigate ethics violations.

“I will not allow either party to weaken oversight of Congressional ethics,” continued O’Halleran. “We need to stop talking about changing Washington and work together to make it happen.”

The OCE was created in March of 2008 in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. Abramoff, a well-connected GOP lobbyist, plead guilty to conspiring to bribe public officials. At the start of the 115th Congress, House Republicans attempted to undermine the ethics review committee by moving it under the control of the House Ethics Committee. This rule was ultimately removed following an outpouring of concerns from citizens across the country.