Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a statement on Thursday praising Speaker of the House John Boehner for forcing out Republican congressmen exposed for unethical behavior.
CREW speculated that Boehner was a force behind the rapid resignation of New York Republican Rep. Christopher Lee on Wednesday and said that a freshman Florida Republican congressman may be next.
Boehner has declined to comment on whether he spoke with Lee between the revelation on Thursday that the married congressman had prowled Craigslist for women and his resignation approximately 150 minutes later.
CREW wrote, “Does anyone really believe that Lee chose to leave so quickly without a push?”
Florida Republican Rep. David Rivera, who has been the subject of a flurry of corruption allegations, may be the next congressman forced to resign by Boehner, CREW said.
Rivera is currently under criminal investigation in Florida. His mother’s consulting company recieved $510,000 in consulting fees from a dog racetrack, presumably in exchange for Rivera’s advocacy of legalizing slot machines. Rivera then received $132,000 in loans that he failed to disclose from the consulting company.
The congressman paid himself $60,000 in unitemized campaign reimbursements when a state legislator, misstated on financial disclosure forms from 2003 to 2009 that he had been paid to do freelance work for USAID (USAID has said that they never employed Rivera), and has been connected with allegations of domestic violence.
CREW’s statement said, “Speaker Boehner serves as a ruthless judge and jury within his party when it comes to the extracurricular activities of members of his conference,” and praised his past crackdowns when Republican congressmen were met with scandal.
“Before the latest resignation, then-Minority Leader Boehner pushed Reps. Vito Fossella (R-NY) and Mark Souder (R-IN) out following revelations of their contemptible conduct” said CREW.
The statement took an opportunity to chide Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for failing to use similar tactics in response to ethical problems with Republican senators.
“One thing is for certain: Senator John Ensign (R-NV) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA) must be thankful that their own leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has a much higher tolerance for reprehensible conduct.”
“Sen. McConnell could take a lesson from the new speaker. He should consider the saga of Chris Lee as a teachable moment and move to jettison the two anchors within his own conference” said the group.