For Your Edification: These Members Of The 2019 House Of Representatives Are Facing Ethics Probes

Remember that the House Ethics Committee maintains a very narrow definition of “ethics.” Almost all serious ethics allegations and investigations in Congress involve financial misconduct, employment shenanigans, actual criminal conduct or blatant conflicts of interest.  The prohibition against sexual relations with staff was relatively recently added, and even more recently taken seriously, thanks to the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck. If the House really was concerned with promoting ethics rather than compliance, it would bring more investigations based on #1 in the House Code of Conduct:

1. A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.

It is fair to say, I think, that this standard has been openly abandoned by both parties.

Here are the current open investigations:

 Representative Alcee L. Hastings, (D-Florida),

Alcee is my favorite unethical House member, and has been for years.  He was impeached and removed from the federal bench in 1989 after the Senate found him guilty of eight impeachment articles, including one charging that he had conspired to receive a $150,000 bribe. Yes, his constituents have shown themselves unworthy of Democracy. Now he is being accused of  violating House rules by having a personal relationship with a member of his staff, and get this: it is with the lawyer who defended him in his impeachment trial. Hastings, who is 83, admits the relationship with Patricia Williams, whom he has had on his staff for years. They even bought a $700,000 house togethet bought a house near Boynton Beach.  Hastings still owes legal fees to her for the work on his impeachment defense, raising another ethics issue regarding inappropriate gifts or “forbearance.” is seeking the payment of debts.

As we know by now,  Representative Katie Hill of California, a first-term Democrat, had a sexual relationship with a member of her congressional staff and had to resign as a result—well, that and the public release of kinky nude photographs inconsistent with House Code of Conduct #1.

Representative Michael F. Q. San Nicolas (D-Guam) Continue reading

The Waffle House Ethics Heroes

I increasingly find myself searching, usually in vain, for stories to reassure myself and Ethics Alarms readers that out society, in the words of the pious churchgoers of Rock Ridge, isn’t “turning into shit.” Here is story out of Alabama involving a Waffle House. I’ve never eaten at one, though there has been a Waffle Shop down Russell Road in Alexandria, VA, less than five minutes from my home by car, the entire 39 years I’ve lived here. The fact that its awning has misspelled “Waffle” with only one “f” for all that time is the reason: I figure that it you can’t spell your own specialty, I can’t trust you to make it right, either.

But I digress…

At a  Birmingham, Alabama Waffle House  on the morning of November second, an estimated 25 customers found that the restaurant had only a single employee named  Ben on duty to serve the whole mob. Apparently there had been a scheduling snafu, leaving Ben with the responsibility of serving everybody. Said one witness to the scene, . “He was just staring at the room full of people. I can’t imagine what he was thinking.”

Then one customer who had been sitting at the bar, asked Ben what was going on and received the answer. He stood up, asked for an apron, and  started washing dishes. A few minutes later a female customer left her table and began bussing those of other partons, taking and serving orders, and making coffee. Then a third customer joined the volunteer staff. Continue reading

When Law And Ethics Converge: Goodbye To The Trump Administration’s Unconstitutional and Unethical “Conscience Clause”

Today’s decision by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, voiding the Trump administration’s “conscience rule” that resuscitated the Bush Administration’s similar rule, is right on the law, and, more important for this blog, right on ethics. The Trump version, which was yet to go into effect,  allowed health-care providers to refuse to participate in abortions, sterilizations or other types of care they if they disagreed with them on religious or moral grounds.

It was an invitation to open-ended discrimination, and as objectionable in principle as allowing public accommodations to refuse to serve Jews, blacks or gays. This topic has been thoroughly explored on Ethics Alarms over the years, and I don’t have anything much new to say. In fact, perusing my various essays on the topic, my favorite is one that is so old, it was on the Ethics Alarms predecessor the Ethics Scoreboard (on which I am slowly making progress in my efforts to get it back online) and mentions Paris Hilton, working at Blockbuster, and an earlier incarnation of Colin Kaepernick in the NBA.

I wrote, in 2005, Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce And Revealed Jerk: Former Houston Astros Pitcher Gerrit Cole”

For non-fans with the imagination to explore them, the Ethics Alarms baseball posts usually involve interesting ethics issues that are relevant to other fields. Perhaps no such post exemplifies this more than the recent essay reacting to a controversy after the 2019 World Series. The favored Houston Astros had lost in shocking fashion to the underdog Washington Nationals in a dramatic seventh game, and its ace pitcher, Gerrit Cole, apparently couldn’t wait to shed his Astros jersey and announce his free agency, which is widely expected to provide him with more than a third of a billion dollars. While the rest of his team was consoling each other and licking their wounds, Cole donned the cap of his super-agent’s company, and proclaimed that he was no longer on the team.

Ethics Alarms veteran commentator Glenn Logan was previously a distinguished sports blogger—though concentrating on college basketball, not baseball—and he authored the following Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunce And Revealed Jerk: Former Houston Astros Pitcher Gerrit Cole”:

I usually demure on baseball-related commentary because I don’t watch professional baseball much, but this one struck me as much more generally applicable than usual:

“Is it ever competent, responsible business to make an established jerk the top salaried employee in your organization? Isn’t that a version of The King’s Pass?”

I think that’s a great question.

So let’s look at this in a non-sports context. Would we be okay as an employer with paying top salary to a talented guy with a well-known public reputation for being a self-centered asshole who is anything but a team player? His results are indisputable, but his personality is abrasive, his maturation is completely arrested at fifteen, his learning curve is as steep as the Nevada Salt Flats, and every time he opens his mouth he embarrasses his employer.

I’m going to say yes. We hired just such a guy as President of the United States. So Americans are either incompetent, or, perhaps, the results are sometimes worth the price.

So that’s the question for whoever Cole’s next employer is. “Is this meat worth the pain?” If yes, then, well, break out the gold card, boys! Continue reading

Ethics Hero: McDonald’s

 

Neat, clean, unambiguous: Katie Hill take notice.

McDonald’s has either fired CEO Steve Easterbrook or forced him to resign (it’s unclear which)  after it was determined that he had a sexual relationship with an employee, and thus a subordinate.  The relationship was determined to be “consensual,” to the extent a non-workplace, intimate relationship with a superior who controls your livelihood and professional advancement can ever be regarded as truly consensual. The position of Ethics Alarms is that it can not be; this was once the official position of the National Organization for Women until the principle threatened the tenure of Bill Clinton in the White House, whereupon Gloria Steinem suddenly declared that such relationships were swell.

“Mickey D’s” Board of Directors found Easterbrook had “demonstrated poor judgement,” the company announced today, and had violated written company policy. Easterbrook, 52 years old, had seen the company’s shares nearly double  in value since he became chief executive in March 2015.  The board therefore definitively rejected the King’s Pass, sending an unequivocal message to other managers that treating the workplace as their personal dating bar wouldn’t be tolerated no matter how important they were or how effective they were at their jobs.

Good. Continue reading

David Brooks’ Stockholm Syndrome

We don’t blame you, David Brooks; it can happen to anyone.

David Brooks’ may be the smartest of the New York Times stable of columnists, and let that be a lesson to all of us. Intelligence, wisdom and erudition are not a sufficient bulwark against the often adverse influence of one’s culture, accurately described as similar to the relationship of water to a fish.  In this case, Brooks’ culture, his water, is defined by his almost unanimous Democrat, progressive, Trump-loathing colleagues, the corrupt and biased paper he works for, and its admitted partisan anti-President editor-in-chief, Dean Baquet.

Usually Brooks is careful about pandering to that culture or revealing how much his surroundings have marinated his brain and values; after all, his alleged role at the Times is House Conservative, a position that slowly but surely has devolved into “House Fake Conservative Who Enables The Times’ Progressive Agenda With An Occasional Sojourn Into Brooksian Pop Philosophy.  His column in today’s Times, however, pretty much blows that pretense away.

It is titled Impeach Trump. Then Move On: Stop distracting from the core issue, elite negligence and national decline.” (Only David Brooks would use a phrase like “elite negligence” that has no obvious meaning.) The piece outs Brooks as thoroughly under the power of his captors in its first three paragraphs:

Is it possible that more than 20 Republican senators will vote to convict Donald Trump of articles of impeachment? When you hang around Washington you get the sense that it could happen.

The evidence against Trump is overwhelming. This Ukraine quid pro quo wasn’t just a single reckless phone call. It was a multiprong several-month campaign to use the levers of American power to destroy a political rival.

Republican legislators are being bludgeoned with this truth in testimony after testimony. They know in their hearts that Trump is guilty of impeachable offenses. It’s evident in the way they stare glumly at their desks during hearings; the way they flee reporters seeking comment; the way they slag the White House off the record. It’ll be hard for them to vote to acquit if they can’t even come up with a non-ludicrous rationale.

Such an opening is not designed to make open-minded readers read on. If this junk were not under Brooks’ byline, I’d probably stop reading, as I often do with similar screeds by his deranged and dishonest colleagues like Charles M. Blow, Thomas Friedman, Michelle Goldberg, David Leonhardt, and others, who have spent three years stoking the hate of the Times’ overwhelmingly Democratic readership.

Let’s examine some of Brooks shared delusions: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce And Revealed Jerk: Former Houston Astros Pitcher Gerrit Cole

Incredible.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

Gerrit Cole’s team, the Houston Astros, had just suffered a shocking defeat in the 2019 World Series at the hands of the underdog ( and significantly inferior) Washington Nationals. Cole had won the last Astros victory in Game 5 in impressive fashion, but his team returned home to Houston—where they had the best home record in baseball— to lose their third and fourth consecutive games in their  own stadium (they had never lost more than three straight all year) and  become the only team in World Series history to lose in seven games without winning a single home game.

The script for players on losing World Series teams is old and well-established. They say that they are proud of their team and team mates. They say that they wish the team could have won a championship for its fans, the best fans in the world. They say they are heartbroken, but that they salute the victors.  This isn’t hard.

But Gerrit Cole, after the final game of the 2019 World Series, appeared on TV wearing the cap of his agent’s company, and said, “I’m not an employee of the team.”  Continue reading