A March 3 story for The Atlantic by National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher examining the possibility that race has played a role in congressional ethics investigation is “a sloppy story that seems bent on making a point,” former Democratic representative and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) member Artur Davis told The Daily Caller.
Goldmacher bases the suggestion on the numbers, writing that “as of the end of February, five of the sitting six named lawmakers under review by the House Ethics Committee are black.” He also notes that “one-third of sitting black lawmakers have been named in an ethics probe during their careers.” Goldmacher went on to examine the possibilities behind these statistics.
“It’s a sloppy story that seems bent on making a point — that black lawmakers are singled out for investigation — without examining the real question: Has any white, or non-black lawmaker been accused of the same misconduct without an investigation ensuing?” former Alabama Rep. Davis said. “If the answer is no, the theory of discrimination goes out the window.”
Davis did have some criticisms of some of the recent ethics investigations into black members of Congress, but called those “exceptions.”
“In the interest of balance, some of the ethical investigations seem weaker than others — if [Illinois Democratic Rep.] Jesse [Jackson] Jr.’s efforts to get a Senate appointment failed to violate federal law, it’s unlikely they violated congressional ethics,” Davis said. “And one of the charges against [California Democratic Rep.] Laura Richardson, that she violated ethics standards by using a staffer to work on redistricting, seems an overreach. But frankly, these are the exceptions, in a sea of charges that certainly merit more fact-finding.”
Davis warned his former colleagues against using race as a defense tactic when such ethics investigations arise because they could tarnish the image of other CBC members that avoided these investigations.
“One final point,” he concluded. “The tactic of African-American politicians crying race every time an investigation emerges is tiresome and diminishes the substantial majority of CBC members who have never faced even a whisper of wrongdoing.”
Davis served in Congress as the representative for Alabama’s 7th Congressional District from 2003-2011, but gave up his seat after an unsuccessful bid for his state’s Democratic nomination for governor in 2010.