Republican “ethics” Questioned

During the much-heated vote on the Medicare drug provision, there were several irregularities in the proceedings. Never mind that the vote, which is to remain open for no fifteen minutes, no more, no less, stayed open for three hours. That’s bad enough. However, Representative Nick Smith, a Michigan Republican, alleged that because he chose to vote no, that Republican leadership vowed to pledge $100,000 in donations to his son’s campaign. Isn’t that bribery? When he flat out refused, he was told by these same Republican thug leaders that his son wouldn’t ever be elected because of his betrayal. Isn’t that coercion?

The House Minority Whip, Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, has called for an ethics investigation into this incident. Now Nick Smith has recanted his story publicly, while he has maintained it privately. Which is it? There should be an ethics investigation, and it should investigate all charges of irregularity on the House floor. If we can spend millions of taxpayer dollars on investigating elected officials sex lives behind closed doors, shouldn’t we investigate what goes on on the floor of OUR HOUSE?Top Democrat wants US House probe on Medicare vote
Reuters, 12.08.03, 3:22 PM ET

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By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) – A top Democrat on Monday urged the House of Representatives ethics committee to probe a Republican congressman’s claim, which was later retracted, that bribes were offered to win passage of the Medicare prescription drug bill.

“I think the ethics committee ought to investigate,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.

He did not formally request a probe but told reporters, the panel has “a responsibility when manifestly there has been raised an issue of this House’s reputation and conduct.”

A spokesman for the ethics panel had no immediate comment.

Rep. Nick Smith, a Michigan Republican who plans to retire in January 2005, said in statement shortly after the House narrowly passed the Medicare bill on Nov. 22 that “bribes and special deals were offered to convince members to vote yes.”

Smith, who voted no, cited offers of “extensive financial campaign support and endorsements” for his son, Brad Smith, who is running to replace him in Congress.

Smith last week backed off the bribery claim as calls were made for a Justice Department investigation.

“I want to make clear that no member of Congress made an offer of financial assistance for my son’s campaign in exchange for my vote on the Medicare bill,” he said in a statement.

“I see no need for an ethics investigation, let alone a criminal investigation.”

Hoyer said what Smith initially alleged was a “crime, the buying of a vote” and he was not surprised Smith backed off.

“Sometimes when we speak the truth in the heat of the moment, we think, ‘Gee I wish I hadn’t said that,'” said Hoyer. “Why? Because he may get some people in trouble, and he probably doesn’t want to do that.”

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, dismissed questions about Smith, saying the congressman had already answered them.

DeLay then went on the offensive, telling reporters to look into what he called threats by House Democratic leaders against any member who voted for the Medicare bill.

Hoyer replied that while there was spirited debate about Medicare, “I didn’t threaten anybody. Period.”

Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service

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