President Bush’s White House spokesman is endorsing the goal of a higher ethical standard for Congress.
In a press briefing yesterday, Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, asked about the issue, which has been the news repeatedly in recent weeks.
“Speaker-elect Pelosi has announced that she will be speaker of what she termed, and this is a quote, ‘The most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.’ My question: Did the President agree with Mrs. Pelosi’s announcement, in view of the re-election of Democrat Congressmen Jefferson, Hastings, McDermott, Murtha, and Mollohan?” Kinsolving asked.
“I think – look, she’s got a noble goal. Let’s hope she succeeds,” was Snow’s response.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, C-Calif., will be leading a U.S. House featuring those representatives, who all have faced allegations of improprieties during their political careers:
- The government has been investigating Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., over allegations $90,000 in money suspected of being used for a bribe was found in his freezer. The Justice Department also has defended its decision to raid his Capitol Hill office, explaining the Democrat tried to hide documents from FBI agents during a search of his home.
- Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., was appointed a federal judge by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, but two years later he was indicted on charges of conspiring to solicit a bribe from two defendants. He was acquitted in 1983, but a separate four-year investigation found he was not only guilty of the original charges but that he lied during his trial. He was impeached from his judgeship.
- Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., at one point in a speech to business leaders in India gave credence to rumors that Osama bin Laden was being held by the United States for political reasons “and it’s only that they are trying to decide what day they should bring him out.” He also released to the public an illegally-taped telephone call.
- Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., was implicated, but not charged, in the Abscam scandal of two decades ago. He appeared on tape meeting with an undercover agent and declined an immediate bribe, but promised that something might happen if he was able to work with the agent, posing as a businessman seeking favors for a fictional Arab sheik.
- Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.Va., has been accused of using his House Appropriations Committee position to funnel $250 million into five nonprofit groups he set up. The most ambitious effort is a glass-and-steel structure with a swimming pool, sauna and spa rising in a former cow pasture in Fairmont, W.Va., thanks to $103 million in taxpayer money.
Since Democrats garnered enough votes in November to move into the majority in the U.S. House, Pelosi has been preaching about a new ethical standard, and has proposed a special panel to consider the creation of an independent body to oversea House ethics rules.
But she also has endured criticism for, among other issues, backing Murtha as her second-in-command in the House.
In a second question, Kinsolving asked about a report that the president has delayed for six more months the plan approved by Congress in 1995 to transfer the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“And my question: In how many other countries of the world do we refuse to have our embassy in their capital, but in another city which resembles Israel locating their embassy in Baltimore?” he asked.
“I’m aware of none,” Snow said.
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