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House ethics committee chairman: Ethics are not my priority

by: Eric B.

Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 14:31:32 PM EDT

Chad Selweski of JRC picked up this morning's story (via Politico) about Michigan's awful ranking when it comes to government transparency and campaign ethics (and ours was mostly owing to terrible campaign finance laws), and remids us that Peter Lund, the chairman of the House ethics committee, a couple of days ago said that his constituents want government to be in the job creation business, not the business of being ethical.

But Rep. Pete Lund, a Shelby Township Republican who chairs the House Ethics and Elections Committee, said the other day that ethics reform is not a priority for voters.

“When I talk to constituents, they talk to me about jobs rather than what kind of assets I have,” Lund said in an interview with one of the Detroit papers.

Well, now, this is interesting. Keep in mind that Republicans are the people who all the time are saying that government doesn't create jobs, that this task is left to a mythical "job creators" fairy (i.e. wealthy people, who apparently create jobs from the goodness of their hearts and not because of supply and demand). Now, he can't strengthen ethics laws because voters won't let him.

By the way, we're good enough to have been reminded by Hy Dudgeon in a comment below about the role of the media in all this. Michigan's FOIA and other government sunshine laws, as did most of those laws across the nation, were a response to the Watergate scandal, which itself was only revealed through sheer dumb luck and hard work by the media. The point of them is to help the citizenry shine the spotlight of scrutiny on corruption and send the cockroaches scurrying.

Who is shining that spotlight currently? No one. Well, hardly anyone. What's generally missing from the Watergate scandal story in popular memory isn't the work of Woodward and Bernstein, but the pressure they felt to produce results by the fact that once they broke the story everyone else -- especially the New York Times -- tried to beat them on other important angles. We remember Woodward and Bernstein as having brought down the Nixon administration. What we don't remember is that without other people following the story -- and the Times did break a few important elements of it -- they might have been content to just let things die off after the going got tough.

It's not a matter of whether we've got someone, somewhere doing investigative journalism. What is just as important is whether there's someone else available to push them to take it and press forward with it to see how far it goes once corruption is revealed.

Eric B. :: House ethics committee chairman: Ethics are not my priority
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