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Government Ethics
Government Ethics
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A 2017 investigation of FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub for potentially unethical behavior determined she had not violated federal rules.

Congressman calls for repeat ethics investigation into FEC chairwoman

This article has been updated following an interview with Weintraub.

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub has been accused of ethical violations that had been previously leveled — and dismissed — two years ago.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Weintraub responded to a letter sent that same day by Rep. Rodney Davis, ranking member of the House Administration Committee, requesting an investigation into Weintraub for potential violations of federal ethics regulations.

"It's a retread on a complaint made two years ago by a Koch Brother-funded group," Weintraub told The Fulcrum on Friday afternoon. The inspector general's office looked into it and didn't find any evidence. It's the same stuff all over again."

Davis, a Republican from Illinois, outlined three reasons he believes FEC Inspector General Christopher Skinner should investigate Weintraub:

  1. Using government time and official FEC resources to publish her opinions on political matters.
  2. Discussing issues outside the purview of the FEC in national media appearances.
  3. Refusing to recuse herself from matters involving President Trump, despite a perceived bias against him and "apparent conflict of interest."
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Congress
Committee on the Modernization of Congress

The House Committee on the Modernization of Congress convened Thursday to hear experts on civility.

With impeachment underway, one committee spends a day talking about civility

While many members of Congress spent Thursday talking about impeachment, one House committee held a hearing on promoting congressional civility. Those two ideas may not seem likely to co-exist, but those who testified hold out hope that Congress can come out of the coming drama in better shape.

"There is an overarching question we have to engage," Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, told the House Committee on the Modernization of Congress. "Are we facing a crisis in a democracy that is durable and capable and up to the task? Or are we actually facing a crisis of democracy in an institution that's strained and brittle and at real risk?"

It remains to be seen what, if anything, a divided Congress can accomplish in the midst of an impeachment inquiry. But, he noted, it somehow functioned under similar situations in the past.

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State regulators dropping an inquiry into the political giving of retiring state Rep. Deborah Boone sparked changes to Oregon's campaign finance governance.

Oregon vows to wake up its campaign finance investigators

Oregon officials have announced efforts to strengthen enforcement of campaign finance laws after reporting from the state's largest newspaper found the supposed election watchdog sleeping on the job.

The Oregonian reported last week on the case of a state House member, Democrat Deborah Boone, allegedly laundering campaign contributions by accepting donations after she announced her retirement last year and then making gifts to several candidates for the Legislature at the direction of her donors. But the state's campaign finance agency, called the Elections Division, dropped its investigation this summer as soon as Boone denied she'd done anything improper.

On Tuesday, GOP Secretary of State Bev Clarno and other state officials promised to review the state's campaign finance investigation process, with plans to revamp the system.

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Government Ethics

A new report from the Coalition for Integrity scored states based on the transparency of their ethics enforcement.

Report: Few states shine in their transparency of ethics enforcement

Only a handful of states earned high marks in a new report analyzing the enforcement power and transparency of state ethics agencies.

The researchers behind "Enforcement of Ethics Rules by State Agencies" surveyed 2018 enforcement statistics for every state ethics agency and scored states by how well those agencies made their actions publicly available. The study was released last week by the nonprofit Coalition for Integrity, which works to combat corruption in both governments and business.

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