A new poll found that residents in battleground districts believe congressional ethics have declined the last two years. The Hill/ANGA 2010 Midterm Election Poll reveals that in the 12 districts surveyed, 57 percent of likely voters think Congress as a whole has been less ethical since President Obama was sworn in.
That figure is not good for Democrats hoping to win those competitive races in November. Nor does it reflect well on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who, 4 years ago, promised to “drain the swamp,” and rid Congress of any and all corruption.
The poll’s findings are not insignificant, as voters in those key districts will have a huge say in which party controls Congress after November. Moreover, in the past, ethical scandals have helped both Republicans and Democrats win back the majority in different election cycles.
In 1994, the Republicans took over amidst a scandal involving senior Democratic lawmakers misusing the House Post Office. Democratic Rep. Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois even pleaded guilty to mail fraud, admitting that he gave gifts from the House stationary store to constituents at the expense of the taxpayer.
In 2006, with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, lawmakers from the GOP were once again caught up in ethics scandals. The House Ethics Committee admonished then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas three times. The scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff was still ongoing, and two Congressmen – Bob Ney of Ohio and Randy “Duke” Cunningham of California – were incarcerated.
In this election cycle, Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters of California and Charles Rangel of New York are being investigated for ethics violations.
The poll’s release also comes during a time when lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are displeased with how Pelosi decided to go about her pledge to implement ethical reforms — specifically, by creating the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).
As The Daily Caller previously reported, the OCE has largely done more harm than good, as their investigations into appearances of wrongdoing and subsequent referrals to the Ethics Committee are often tantamount to a guilty verdict.
In response to the poll, a spokesperson for Pelosi told The Hill newspaper that, “Leading independent advocates for congressional reform credit House Democrats for taking tough action that ensured unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency. When the GOP was in charge, they quadrupled earmarks and legislated behind closed doors on behalf of corporate special interests and have stood in the way of Democratic reform efforts in Congress for the last four years.”
The districts polled included Arizona’s 1st District, Colorado’s 4th District, Nevada’s 3rd District, and Ohio’s 15th District, among others.