Editorial: No secrets (Burlington Hawkeye)

Editorial: No secrets (Burlington Hawkeye)

Ethics committee reverses itself on secret-travel disclosure.

We have to give Dave Loebsack, who is our guy in the U.S. House of Representatives, an attaboy for his efforts to reverse a secret decision by the House Ethics Committee.

That committee went behind closed doors recently and decided House members didn’t have to disclose details of privately funded trips they were taking.

Loebsack, a Democrat, and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican, wrote a resolution that would have forced the Ethics Committee to reverse its decision.

It was never acted on because, as Loebsack wrote to his constituents, the committee “came to their senses,” and went back to the way they were doing things, which allows Americans to see who is getting the freebies and who is offering them.

Initially, committee members said they hadn’t heard any complaints about their decision.

No surprise there. They made their decision in a secret meeting. They didn’t announce it to anyone. How can you complain about something you have no knowledge of?

Loebsack told the Waterloo Courier these types of things “only deepen the mistrust the American people have in Congress,” adding, “changing of the rules in the middle of the night is exactly why Congress has a lower approval rating than cockroaches and traffic jams.”

What the Ethics panel did, and eventually had to reverse under pressure, was remove the requirement that trips paid for by private entities be included in financial disclosure forms. That would have kept them out of the public eye.

The decision first was reported by the National Journal, another example of the importance of a free press in being the watchdog over the shenanigans of some members holding public jobs.

Loebsack told the Courier he hasn’t accepted any privately funded travel. “I just think a wiser course is not to take trips on the private dime,” he told the newspaper.

Like his policies or not, Loebsack should be congratulated for being a champion of transparency.

He’s showing that in this case.

What the Ethics Committee did wasn’t very ethical, or in the best interest of the taxpaying public.

It’s good to know there are some people representing us in Congress who understand that, and will do something about it.