Tag Archives: House of Representatives

Now THIS Is An Untrustworthy Legislative Staffer…And Incidentally, We’re Doomed

In March of 2016,  Stacey Plaskett, the delegate to the United States House of Representatives from the United States Virgin Islands’s at-large congressional district. entrusted her iPhone and its password to staffer Juan McCullum, who copied nude images and videos of legislator after offering to take the phone to an Apple store for repairs.

After he left Plaskett’s office, McCullum created a Hotmail account and “sent at least eleven e-mail messages to multiple persons, including politicians, members of the media, and other persons known to [Plaskett].” The e-mails contained “one or more of the nude images and videos,” according to this week’s indictment against McCollum. He also created a Facebook account, uploaded the visual content, and then Facebook-friended people in Plaskett’s district to spread the nude images far and wide.

A few questions: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Science & Technology, Social Media, U.S. Society, Workplace

A GOP Candidate Wins A House Seat In Montana Despite Attacking A Reporter The Night Before The Election. What’s Going On Here?

Yesterday, in an Ethics Alarms post pointing out that nobody should vote a person who physically attacks reporters, or indeed, who attacks anybody, into Congress, I wrote,

What kind of person would vote for Gianforte after last night’s display? The kind of person who argues that character doesn’t matter in elected officials, only their positions.

And idiots, of course.

Candidate/Thug Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate, won the election nonetheless with over 50% of the votes. Rob Quist, the Democrat, received only 44%. Does this mean that over 50% of Montana voters are idiots? No, that wouldn’t be a fair conclusion. An estimated 60% of voters had turned in their ballots already, so the Gianforte voters in that batch weren’t necessarily idiots. (As I implied in the post yesterday, the advocates for voting before election day, thus allowing late-arriving information about the candidates—as in, “Hey! This guy is an unstable, volatile jerk with the judgment of a bar room goon!” to have minimal effect on  election results, have embraced an irresponsible, idiotic even, policy.)

Gianforte’s victory illuminate  other ethics issues, hwoever:

1. Addressing supporters in his victory speech, Gianforte apologized to the reporter he body-slammed, the journalists who witnessed the attack, and Montanans, saying “When you make a mistake you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way.”

Ugh, yecchh, gag, petui!

If that’s the Montana way, why did Gianforte sit back and allow his campaign to blame the episode on the reporter? Remember, the statement from Gianforte’s staff, which is to say Gianforte,  said that the reporter,

“entered the [campaign] office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions….After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

That isn’t owning up. That’s covering up, spinning and lying. Does the new Congressman’s apology mean that he acknowledges that his campaign was lying? When will he own up to that?  An apology now is cheap, cynical and meaningless, for Gianforte won, and Montana is stuck with him for two years.

2. A Montana TV station refused to inform its viewers that Gianforte had assaulted and battered a reporter. NBC affiliate KECI, recently purchased by the conservative media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting, adamantly kept the report of the attack and the audio of the incident,  arguing that “The person that tweeted [Jacobs] and was allegedly body slammed is a reporter for a politically biased publication.”  That “biased publication” was the Guardian, and the tweeter was Ben Jacobs, the victim. His account was confirmed by reporters from Fox News…you know, that liberal network that is always trying to make Republicans look bad. The anchor of the evening newscast, Laurel Staples, read a statement that said, in part, “NBC Montana takes pride in reporting only verifiable facts from an independent, reliable sources.”

 NBC News, including the Today show and affiliates across the country, played the audio of the altercation between Jacobs and Gianforte, who was charged with misdemeanor assault, indicating that reports of the episode were reliable. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Incompetent POTENTIAL Elected Official Of The Month: Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, or, Ethics Verdict: Anyone Who Votes For This Guy Today Is Irresponsible, And Probably An Idiot”

First a classroom fist fight between teachers, and now this.

Last night Republican Greg Gianforte, in a close and closely watched contest with Democrat Rob Quist to fill the open, and only, Montana Congressional seat in today’s special election, snapped and attacked Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian. You can read the account of a witness (from Fox News) here, and the recording above seems to confirm it. The aspiringg statesman was charged with misdemeanor assault.

Good.

Three newspapers, this one, this one and this one, immediately withdrew their previous endorsements of the Republican in the race.

Good.

Good.

Good.

This passage from The Missoulian’s editorial this morning is a succinct summary: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunces: House Republicans….WAIT! Trump To The Rescue!

oce-website

Per The Washington Examiner:

House Republicans on Monday quietly voted to strip the independent power from an outside ethics panel established eight years ago following a string of corruption scandals, a move they made just hours before the start of the 115th Congress. A measure defanging the Office of Congressional Ethics, authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, will now be included in the House Rules package, which is poised for a Tuesday afternoon vote before the entire House.

The provision’s most important feature changes the OCE from an independent entity to a body that falls under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee, a 10-member, bipartisan committee of lawmakers that rarely hands out serious punishment. Goodlatte’s provision renames the OCE the “Office of Congressional Complaint Review,” and said the changes were needed because lawmakers have been subjected to investigations provoked by partisan outside groups.

The move was incompetent, as it is terrible public relations and undermines the public trust. I’d call it straight-up unethical as well, because it constitutes the appearance of impropriety, which is prohibited by House ethics rules already.

Then, that evil, fascist President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted…

“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it … may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS,

The House Republicans backed down, and eliminated the measure.

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership

Further Thoughts On “The Vampire Candidate”

dracula for congress

I don’t want to make this Vampire Day, but after reading the comments so far on today’s Ethics Quiz involving Florida Congressional candidate/ fantasy vampire role-play enthusiast Jake Rush, I realize that the original post omitted some important points and queries. Here, in no particular order, are my further thoughts:

  • The Ick Factor? Both conservative and liberal commentators are ridiculing Rush, essentially concluding that his hobby disqualifies him as a serious candidate. The most quoted source referred to the images embraced by Rush’s role-playing group as “disturbing,” “bizarre,” and “unsettling.” Do these reactions signal a rejection of Rush’s values, or is this a clear-cut example of the “Ick Factor,” which is often mistaken for unethical conduct? Strange does not mean wrong or unethical.
  • Trust. When we elect leaders, we must trust them. “Strange” by definition suggests unpredictability; if we don’t understand why people do what they do, it is hard for us to know how they will behave, and if we don’t know how they will behave, we can’t rationally trust them.
  • Integrity. I should have raised the issue of integrity, for it is critical to the problem. Integrity is essential to trust, and a candidate like Rush raises the question: “Who, or what, is this guy?” Is he a “straight-shooting” conservative who likes to play vampire in his spare time, just like some politicians like to play poker or watch synchronized swimming (now that’s what I call weird), or is he a wannabe creature of the night who is just playing a conservative Republican in the daytime to conform to the expectations of conventional society? If there is doubt about that, then his integrity is in question.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, Leadership, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: Trust and the Vampire Candidate

jake-rushConservative Republican candidate Jacob A. Rush, a 35-year-old attorney, has begun a campaign in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District to win the primary against incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, a Tea Party stalwart seeking a second term. Rush’s campaign website portrays  him  as a “conservative straight shooter,”and he may indeed be that. A Florida blog uncovered the fact that Rush is also, however, a long-time member of the Mind’s Eye Society,  “a nationwide community of gothic-punk role-players who take on the personas of vampires and other supernatural beings” for fantasy battles “against their own bestial natures, hunters, and each other.”

It’s all fun and games with improvisational theater tossed in, though with a decidedly adult set of themes. Rush liked ( likes?) to play a character named “van de Winst”, a lusty vampire, and photos of the lawyer were found on the web showing him and/or members of his club, playing vampire,  burning books, aiming shotguns at dogs, pretending to be demons, displaying Satanic symbols, being chained and gagged…you know, that kind of thing. Fun stuff.

After this all came out—how could he think it would not?—Rush explained in a press release:

“All my life, I’ve been blessed with a vivid imagination from playing George Washington in elementary school to dressing up as a super hero last Halloween for trick or treaters. Any cursory review of the Internet will show that I have played heroes and villains…. I have never hid nor shied away from disclosing my hobby activities. When I was hired at the Sheriff’s office, I fully disclosed my gaming and theatre background on the application, and these hobbies posed absolutely no problem or raised any flags. In fact, when applying for undercover work, these hobbies were considered an advantage, so much so my shift lieutenant nicknamed me ‘Shakespeare.'”

And he included this photo of him and his wife…

Rush and wife

…wisely choosing not to send this one:

Rush vanpire

WOW.

And thus your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today is….

Is it  Jacob Rush’s unusual personal hobby relevant to his ability to serve in Congress?

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Incompetent Elected Officials Of The Month: The U.S. Congress

"Oh, THAT..."

“Oh, THAT…”

We know that our elected officials don’t think it is important for them to read the bills they vote for (or against.) That’s irresponsible, but this is illegal: as pointed out by Thomas Beck in the Wall Street Journal, both Houses of Congress, but especially the Senate, defy the most basic Parliamentary rule of all, one that is mandated in the Constitution. The requirement: having  more than 50% of members present, a quorum, in order to do business.

Beck:

“Congress has ignored the quorum requirement for decades, yet neither the president nor the courts has questioned the practice. The one time the Supreme Court was called upon to apply the quorum requirement was in the 1892 case of United States v. Ballin. A statute was challenged on the basis that, while a majority was present in the House when the act was passed, a majority didn’t cast votes on it. A unanimous Supreme Court explained that what matters is whether a majority is present: ‘All that the Constitution requires is the presence of a majority, and when that majority are present the power of the House arises.’ Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society