Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Struggle against Entrenched Corruption

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Struggle against Entrenched Corruption

Article excerpt

It is possible to explain - without justifying every decision, statement and act by House Speaker Newt Gingrich - why he felt the need for a course to be funded by tax-deductible dollars through a charitable foundation. That explanation lies in the 40-year rule of the House of Representatives by a Democratic Party whose leadership grew increasingly imperial, unethical and arrogant in direct proportion to the amount of time it held on to majority power.

When the speaker is said to have brought disrepute to the House by violating House rules with a "coordinated effort" for "achieving a partisan, political goal," in the words of the House ethics committee, it is important to recall the ethical record of the previous House majority and why it took a "revolution" to bring down that House.

The Democrats had so fixed the rules and the lawmaking process that Republicans were virtually shut out of the system. Democrats changed rules at will, making it difficult for Republicans even to be heard, much less to have their bills fairly considered. Add to this arrogance a considerable amount of corruption that dwarfed the charges brought by the ethics committee against Gingrich, and we had what some called an imperial Congress. When Democrats were in power, the leadership used the rules to abuse the system of representative government. For example, in 1974, the House adopted a reorganization resolution eliminating proxy voting in committees. Only a few months later, the Democratic Caucus changed the House rules to allow proxy voting in committees. The reorganization resolution said that one-third of the investigatory staff should be controlled by the minority. Again, in early 1975, the Democratic Caucus abolished this minority protection. Every two years thereafter, the Democratic Caucus changed the rules to restrict opportunities for the minority to participate in the formulation of new laws. In 1977, the Democrats changed the number of members required for a quorum in committee, where most legislation gets written, to one-third of the members of the committee. In 1979, the caucus increased by 25 percent the number of members needed to call for a vote on the House floor. …

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