Thursday, March 13, 2008

Congressman Kline Votes Against Ethics Reform?

While his peers in Congress take a historic step forward in voting for ethics reform, John Kline (sigh-once again) doesn't 'walk his talk' by voting against the measure. This blog asked the question earlier this month, 'Will Congressman John Kline support ethics reform?'. We asked that you call on Kline to voice your support for this bill that would establish an independent panel empowered to initiate investigations of alleged misconduct by members of the chamber. "The six members of the new Office of Congressional Ethics would have the authority to initiate preliminary reviews of allegations against House members, conduct investigations and refer their findings to the House ethics committee along with a public report.” [Washington Post, 3/12/08]

Compare Congressman Kline’s lack of leadership role regarding ethics with Congressman Tim Walz regarding this issue. Mr. Walz is very vocal in saying that an independent ethic commission should replace the House Ethics Committee. As Tim says “I’m uncomfortable with members policing their own members”. Representatives Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz voted for the measure, as did retiring Republican Representative Jim Ramstad.

But really it's not much of a surprise that Congressman Walz has taken the lead in this issue. Walz in less than 6 months broke Kline’s 5 year record for face-to-face town meetings, and is truly motivated instead of wrapping himself in the flag, relying on his old military record and refusing to work in WA,DC for much needed projects in his district.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Will Kline Back Ethics Reform?

Common Cause with your help is turning up the heat on members of Congress who are refusing to confront the ethics crisis. Today their full page ad (see pic) is running in Roll Call -- the must-read newspaper of Capitol Hill.

Under the current rules, only a member of Congress can file an ethics complaint against another member. That system is clearly broken: there are at least a dozen members of Congress or staff who are under federal investigation, indicted, convicted or serving prison sentences, while the Ethics Committee stays practically silent. It's time for a change – time for an independent panel to oversee congressional ethics.

Please call Rep. John Kline today at (202) 225-2271 and let him know that you expect him to support strong ethics enforcement in the form of House Resolution 895. Afterall, Kline has nothing to hide...or does he?

It's critically important that there be an independent Office of Congressional Ethics with the power to file, investigate and judge ethics complaints. Time is short – please call Rep. Kline today at (202) 225-2271.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Near the Bottom in Power Rankings

Via Minnesota Monitor, I see that John Kline ranks near the bottom in the Knowlegis Power Rankings. He ranks 396 out of 435:
The power rankings rate members of Congress based on position by virtue of committee or tenure, indirect influence through media influence or caucus membership, the number of bills or amendments that each member succeeds in getting passed and how successful they are at getting earmarks for their state or district.
The site does say that there are limitations to the rankings:
The Knowlegis Power Rankings project team acknowledges that Members of Congress sometimes exercise power in ways that cannot be seen or measured. For example, we did not measure some variables such as effectiveness in assisting constituents in the district and state, known as "casework." Nor did we measure legislators' visibility in the district and state, such as public appearances or communication with voters. Finally, legislators often play important roles as liaisons with federal agencies in matters where state or local governments have a vested interest in a special project (such as military base closures). These factors - while crucial to a member's re-election and extremely important to constituents - are hard to measure and rarely contribute to power in the House or Senate.
Factoring in these limitations can only drop Kline further. Visibility in the district and state? We are represented by a man who has virtually no influence and who uses what little influence he has to vote against the interests of his constituents.