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

Not Surprisingly, The French Are Just Plain Wrong About Vertical Dating

..and so is blogger Amy Alkon, who launched her objections to vertical dating prohibitions with this report  by Ibtissem Guenfoud at ABC about the French reaction to McDonald’s CEO being sacked for having a sexual relationship with a subordinate, in violation of the company’s policy:

Some are calling it the latest case of American puritanism, “far from French ways,” and reminding the French public that, at least in France, employees and bosses are free to date and protected by their right to privacy… in France, the company’s rule not to date “employees who have a direct or indirect reporting relationship to each other” is seen as anti-freedom, including sexual freedom.Therefore, to exclude sex from the workplace as a means of protecting women is perceived as an exclusion from the sexual realm that they fought so hard to have access to, thereby reducing them again to the status of objects who need protection from men. “We are putting walls in places where it is not necessary,” Rudisuhli said. “The sexuality of people does not concern the company. Women are big enough to know what they want. All women do not dream of marrying their boss. There is contempt for women as if we were venal and we need to protect them. It’s contemptuous.” Rudisuhli voiced the concern that women in France risk being victimized in the wake of the #MeToo movement and reduced to an inferior position of needing protection, in the sexual realm as well as in the workplace. It is through this lens that many consider McDonald’s rules to be patriarchal….

Sure. In reality, it is through this lens that bosses who want to abuse their workplace power to get laid and employees who think they can use sex to get an edge on advancement see a threat to their unethical and destructive agendas.

I get it: the French culture embraces sexual harassment. That’s their choice, but don’t insult everyone else’s intelligence by trying to justify it by using a wave of rationalizations so high it would drown Marseilles. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics, 11/9/2019: ABC’s Epstein Cover-Up, Facebook’s Whistleblower Identity Censorship, And More

I started this one at 3:30 AM. 

If you can’t sleep, might as well be thinking about ethics…

1. “I’m smart! I’m not stupid, like everybody says…” While trying to find  the post I linked to yesterday (about corrupt and abusive systems of municipal funding, justice and law enforcement that “are virtual dictated by poverty and demographics that make an ethical system impossible”), I stumbled upon a post written in August, 2014, titled “Prediction: The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck.” Five years and three months later, I had no clue as to what that prediction might have been, and was curious to find out what it was. My prediction was this:

At this point, we have no way of knowing what the truth is. Maybe Wilson executed Brown. Maybe he is a racist. Maybe he is a psychopath. And maybe Brown’s conduct justified the use of deadly force by the officer, and the teen was largely responsible for his own demise. Presumably we will eventually know the truth.I confidently predict this, however, based on what occurred in the Martin-Zimmerman case:

IF the evidence supports the conclusion that Brown charged at Wilson, neither the family of the slain teen, nor the African American community in Ferguson, nor the protesters, the race-hustlers, the black and progressive politicians who benefit by preserving racial tension and distrust,  much of the news media and many, many pundits and political bloggers, will change their rhetoric, accusations or the prevailing Ferguson narrative one bit. They need for the narrative as it stands to be true, and want it to be true. Massive confirmation bias will ensure that the death of Mike Brown will be talked about, protested and regarded as an example of racist police oppression of young black men, and the truth, in the end, will be irrelevant.

I hope my prediction is wrong.

And, as we now know, it was not. Several candidates for the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination for President have referred to Brown’s “murder,” the news media has largely allowed their intentional misrepresentation to go uncondemned.

2. Democracy Dies in Darkness update: Facebook and YouTube have joined the bizarre media censorship conspiracy that is committed to keeping the name of the Ukraine “whistleblower” from as many lazy and inattentive members of the public as possible. This is happening despite the fact that his name has been thoroughly revealed in many forums: he is almost certainly Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst, committed Democrat and consort of Joe Biden, Rep. Schiff, John Brennan and other Impeachment Plan S architects. Ciaramella also was cited in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the now-disproven collusion between Donald Trump and Russia. It included  Ciaramella’s May 2017 email summaries of a meeting between Trump and Russian officials  that were eventually  leaked to a New York Times reporter. Continue reading

You Are No Doubt Reading About How Yesterday’s Election Gave Democrats Control Over The Virginia Legislature. Here Is A Notable Component Of That Accomplishment.

Be proud, Democrats!

Former Virginia lawmaker Joe  Morrissey  won the state Senate seat for the 16th District in the Old Dominion last night, defeating Independent Waylin Ross.  Morrissey got more than 60% of the votes, showing an enthusiastic  electorate. He will now represent parts of Richmond, Chesterfield County, Petersburg, Hopewell, Prince George County, and Dinwiddie County.

Who is Joe Morrissey? Let me refresh your memory using this post, from 2014. The first half of it was about revolting Republican House member Blake Farenthold—the guy wearing the duck pajamas—

who was, thankfully, finally forced out of office in the wake of #MeToo.  The second half was about Joe: 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

Is The DLA Piper Sexual Harassment Case The Legal Community’s Harvey Weinstein Scandal That I’ve Been Predicting? Sure Looks like It…

For almost two years, I’ve been telling my ethics training attendees at bar associations and law firms that their profession has a serious sexual harassment problem, that there are many Harvey Weinstein, Esq,s out there, and the arrival of a major big law firm scandal or ten is inevitable.

Earlier this month, I wrote about the emerging sexual harassment controversy at DLA Piper,  the largest law firm in the world. Vanina Guerrero, a junior partner at  Piper, alleged that Louis Lehot, a notable “rainmaking” partner of long-standing who  pursued her,  groped her, and then retaliated when she rejected his advances. I wrote in part,

The kind of harassment she alleges is not the kind of behavior that is a secret, whether it occurs in a law firm in Hollywood, on a morning news show, on a TV production set or in an opera company, just to name some familiar locales. She says that the partner who recruited her had groped or kissed her on four occasions, and through her attorney’s supplemental filing with the EEOC, that the partner “regularly throws temper tantrums in and out of the office,” and no one at the law firm has reined him in.

There is now more information regarding this story. None of it proves that Lehot was a sexual harasser taking advantage of his power in the law firm to intimidate and abuse women for his own enjoyment, or that DLA Piper’s management  enabled him by applying the King’s Pass, concomitantly creating a toxic culture at the firm, so everything still has to be followed by the magic qualifier, “alleged.” Still, the signs are ominous: Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/20/19: Ancient Icelanders And Others Behaving Badly

Good Morning!

1. Confession: I called a stranger an asshole on Facebook yesterday. I had patiently explained to a Facebook Borg-infected friend that no, the Justice Department report on Hillary’s email fiasco had not proven for all time that she hadn’t “done anything wrong,” quite the contrary. The report revealed that she was directly responsible for over 600 security breaches (after saying otherwise for more than a year). That means that she was reckless, incompetent, irresponsible and dishonest, and, since the applicable statute doesn’t require intent, could have been prosecuted. The report did find that there was no evidence that Clinton deliberately set out to endanger national security, which was never the issue.

Some clod following the thread wrote that you “could sure tell who follows Fox News talking points.” Well, I’m sick of that lazy deflection, and anyone who uses it, especially on me, is an asshole, and needs to be told.  maybe ist not too late to get treatment. It’s even more of an asshole thing to say than the reflex “But ….Trump!” retort.

2. Yes, this is unethical. Yes, it is newsworthy. No, it is receiving almost no national coverage outside of conservative news sources. Rep. Katie Hill, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, has been engaged in a three-way sexual relationship involving a  staffer and her husband. This would not matter to me, and should not matter to you, except that the woman involved is Hill’s subordinate. The workplace is not a dating bar or personal harem, not in the private sector, not in Congress. In addition, close personal relationships create conflicts of interest for the supervisor in any office. I would mention the inherent imbalance of power that makes it impossible for an employee to consent to a superior’s advances in such a situation, but of course Lee knows that, being an ardent #MeToo and Time’s Up! supporter.

The hypocrisy in the Democratic Party on this issue is wide, deep, and nauseating, except, I guess, to Democrats. Last week, discussing this issue with lawyers following my ethics seminar, a usually smart, fair, male attorney actually opined that Joe Biden’s serial non-consensual groping wasn’t really a problem because “he didn’t mean it to be sexual assault.” The lawyer really said this, though “I didn’t mean anything by it” has been the reflex excuse of every sexual harasser from Bill O’Reilly to Louis C.K.

3. Stipulated: President Trump’s harsh rhetoric in the aborted White House meeting with Democrats was one more stupid self-inflicted wound. Given the barrage of ad hominem attacks by the party that she leads, and the disrespect for the office that Pelosi herself has orchestrated (that mocking clap at the State of the Union speech alone was unforgivable), Trump was certainly provoked, but the President is not supposed to slide into the gutter just because his adversaries live there. It’s swell to be a “fighter”—Trump is probably correct that Mitt Romney would have been elected President in 2012 if he had a some Trump in him—but that doesn’t mean that gratuitous incivility and nastiness is a competent or responsible political strategy.

However, this image, part of a cartoon by Andy Marlette for the Pensacola News Journal earlier this year… Continue reading