To Jon Stewart, Ethics Hero: I’m Sorry I Doubted You.

Impossible conflict of interest? No problem!

I’m also glad that I waited before posting my article labeling Stewart, the much-revered cultural force who chairs Comedy Central’s satirical news hour, “The Daily Show,” an Ethics Dunce for wimping out in his initial tepid take on the Rep. Weiner scandal.

Stewart is a good friend of the sexting, lying New York Congressman, and for most comedians, leaving a high-profile friend in trouble off of their comic hit-list would not only be acceptable, but admirable. A comedian only has the obligation to be funny, and if he  chooses to be funny without slicing up a close friend in crisis, that just makes him a kind and loyal friend. Stewart, however, can no longer claim to be just a comedian. He has built a reputation as a truth-teller, leaning to the left, perhaps, but still willing to skewer idiocy, corruption, hypocrisy and dishonesty whenever and wherever they surface in current events. This means he is trusted, and that he has a duty to make  his audience laugh while displaying integrity, fairness, wisdom and good judgment. It’s a high standards to meet, but it is also the one Stewart set for himself by reaching it again and again. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

The fact that David Vitter is still stinking up the Senate means that it makes sense to let Anthony Weiner stick around and stink up the House. Yes, that's really the best the Democrats can come up with.

“It’s hard to see what the Ethics Committee would hang its hat on here to say that this conduct would violate the ethics rules. Others have said maybe it’s the lying. What! So no politician has ever lied to us before? That’s the kind of thing we see all the time. So he did behave discreditably (!!) but I don’t think it’s enough for a full-fledged ethics censure. David Vitter is still there.”

—-Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, making excuses for Rep. Anthony Weiner on Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC liberal love-in show.

As“Ethics Bob” writes, “If you’re a Democrat and you want an ethics pass, go see Melanie Sloan.”  Bob muses on what kind of behavior Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington “would consider irresponsible or unethical.”

It sure wouldn’t be Sloan’s own conduct, though she infamously used CREW to promote the client of a lobbying firm that she later jumped CREW to join (also conduct that is seen in D.C. “all the time,’ though not usually by heads of so-called ethics watchdog groups).* The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics does some good work, but it has always leaned heavily toward criticizing Republicans. Sloan’s statement to O’Donnell, however, is a new low, a disgrace for anyone who purports to take ethics seriously. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Day: Las Vegas Blackjack Dealer Lisa Weiss

“I discovered that Anthony is a bad man and a liar…I am a Democrat, I think he is a wonderful congressman and I hope this doesn’t hurt his career. I am still a big supporter of his, despite all of this.”

Blackjack dealer and Rep. Anthony Weiner sexting partner Lisa Weiss, in an interview yesterday on Radar Online.

Americans who support leaders they think, or know, are bad men and liars misunderstand the core requirements for trustworthiness and leadership. This misunderstanding continues to allow corrupt individuals to wield power in our government, and the cost to all of us is beyond calculation.

Lisa Weiss is a “big supporter” of a national leader she has had only limited contact with, despite the fact that the contact led her to condemn his honesty and character. Until Lisa and the millions of Republicans and Democrats like her resolve to only tolerate and support honest and ethical leaders, the myriad of problems our nation faces will only multiply.

Should Rep. Weiner Resign?

Well, at least Weiner got THAT off his chest. Now all he needs to do is resign.

I was giving a seminar on building an organizational culture free from sexual harassment today, and happened to mention Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter misadventures. “Allegedly!” shouted out one of the participants. “Allegedly,” I conceded. “But I’m pretty sure we’re going to find out that he behaved inappropriately; I knew that the minute he said that the crotch in the picture might have been his. Might have been his? What kind of guy his age takes photos of his crotch?” By the time I left the seminar at about 4 PM, Rep. Weiner was already engaged in his excruciating press conference, confessing, apologizing, and taking the full brunt of the media’s onslaught.

A woman had come forward to reveal more photos the Congressman had sent to her over social media…sad, embarrassing photos for any man over the age of 16 that hinted at untreated emotional problems in a man with a new wife, a high-profile job, and so much to lose. Rep. Weiner had to come clean, not that he had been doing a very convincing job of lying over the past week.

Give him credit for a forthright capitulation to the truth, once he changed his story. Continue reading

Setting the Fairness Alarm For Congressman Weiner

Set alarm to "Unfair".

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is embroiled in a strange and distasteful controversy arising from the receipt by a young woman of a tweet from Weiner’s Twitter account including a photograph of a man’s provocatively bulging underwear–with both the garment and the bulge-producing contents allegedly belonging to the Representative.  Such situations require the media, the public, political allies and foes alike to set their ethics alarms to “Fairness,” because being unfair is so easy and seductive.  If your ethics alarms are properly calibrated, here is what should feel fair and unfair to Congressman Weiner.

Unfair: Assuming he sent the photo. He is a Congressman, an elected representative of the nation’s legislature. Just because other Congressmen (now ex-Congressmen) have, within memory, sent shirtless photos of themselves over the internet to troll for sex and giddily described having “tickle fights” with staff members does not have any probative value regarding what Rep. is or is not capable of doing. He claims his account was hacked as a prank. He deserves the benefit of the doubt until there are legitimate reasons to question his credibility on this issue. Even then, I think we owe it to him and our faith in democracy to begin with the assumption that a member of the U.S. House of Representatives couldn’t possibly be so crude, irresponsible and stupid as to send a photo of his crotch to a young woman. Continue reading