Saturday, 23 January 2010

Ethics Blackout Periods

It's a sad fact (remember Acton's dictum "power tends to corrupt...") that setting up procedures for ethics complaints have themselves been abused. A meritless complaint against a candidate would be made in the run up to an Election - not only distracting the campaign of the victim-candidate, but reducing support from the electorate.

As a result the Office of Congressional Ethics will have to abide by new rules this year. During a "Blackout Period" it will be barred from forwarding any recommendations to the House of Representatives Ethics Committee. Rule 17A (i) of the Committee states that

(i) The Committee shall not accept, and shall return to the Board, any referral from the Board within 60 days before a Federal, State, or local election in which the subject of the referral is a candidate.

This will mean that where a candidate faces a primary election (most are in May) and then the General Election in November there are two blackout periods - March-May and September to November.

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