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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How Florida Republicans sided on attempt to gut ethics office



WASHINGTON - It has taken a while but here is a mostly complete list on how Florida Republicans sided on the controversial attempt to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, a move that overshadowed Tuesday’s opening of the 115th Congress.

The House Republican Conference voted 119-74 Monday night to approve a rules package with changes, but that vote was secret.

Some Florida members publicly disclosed how they voted, others responded to questions from the Times and other news outlets. Still others have declined to comment.

Matt Gaetz: Voted against. Twitter: “Yeah. I’m pro-ethics.”

Neal Dunn: Voted against but qualified response to say he lacked information.

Ted Yoho: “The congressman was not present for the vote due to a mechanical delay with his flight from Gainesville to DC. The congressman does feel that there needs to be reforms made to the OCE - reforms that were recommended by the 2007 bipartisan Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement. The reforms do not change the public’s ability to hold members of Congress accountable.” — statement from spokesman

John Rutherford: Opposed the changes, a spokesman said, and wants any reforms done on a bipartisan basis.

Ron DeSantis: Opposed. Twitter: “House GOP needs to remove the ethics provision from the rules package - shouldn't be making changes like this behind closed doors. #ToneDeaf."

Bill Posey: No response.

Daniel Webster: Voted against changes. “Congressman Webster supports transparency and accountability and is pleased the House Rules passed yesterday did not include the OCE amendment.” — spokeswoman

Gus Bilirakis: “I opposed this measure from the very beginning, and I am glad to see that it will not have a place in the 115th Congress. I am confident that this House will continue to hold Members to the highest ethical standards, fully accountable to the people. The public’s trust must never be taken for granted."

Dennis Ross: "Rep. Ross opposed the change to the rules, which collectively led to Goodlatte’s OCE amendment being stripped from the package." -- spokeswoman

Vern Buchanan: “Vern did not attend the meeting last night when this change was approved, but he agrees with the decision to strip the language from the rules package because Congress should be focused on tax reform, fighting terrorism and improving the lives of ordinary Americans."

Tom Rooney: Won’t say. “We’re not commenting on this one,” a spokeswoman said.

Brian Mast: UPDATE. His spokesman said he voted against the change on Monday, though the lawmaker told USA Today he sympathizes with concerns about the OCE. “I get it (but) I didn’t think it was the right time and place for it,” he said.

“Without a question, I do take issue with it, but it is still part of a larger rules package,” adding he was still planning on voting yes.

Francis Rooney: Was not present Monday for vote but issued statement to Times. “We need to drain the swamp. Ethics should be a bipartisan issue and changes to the OCE must include all parties involved, so that we can ensure the strongest possible commitment to ethical government while protecting due process."

Mario Diaz-Balart: Voted against changes. “The Office of Congressional Ethics is in dire need of reform. Members of Congress must be held accountable to the highest standard in a process that is fair and just. I strongly believe the way to do this is in a bipartisan, open discussion through legislation, not through the rules package."

Carlos Curbelo: Voted for changes. “The House ethics process needs to be reformed in order to better investigate allegations of misconduct. I support referring this matter to the House Ethics committee where Republicans and Democrats can work together on bipartisan reforms that would ensure Members of Congress are‎ held accountable while given due process to address accusations.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: "I voted for Rep. Goodlatte's amendment to improve and reorganize the renamed Office of Congressional Complaint Review (OCCR) because it includes much needed oversight and accountability from the House Ethics Committee. The reforms will allow for due process rights for all parties involved and will ensure a fair hearing as Members of Congress seek to better serve our constituents."

[Last modified: Friday, January 6, 2017 5:03pm]


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