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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsProgressive Pundit

Ethics is not a partisan issue

As more and more accusations are made that President Donald Trump might have some kind of illegal ties with Russia, there have been calls for an investigation. Since the FBI and CIA work for Trump and he can dismiss their leaders at any time, Congress would ideally be the branch to investigate.

Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, recently resigned because it was revealed he lied about contact with a Russian official before Trump took office. Many citizens and politicians want Flynn to be investigated to see if other White House officials were involved. Investigating Flynn’s scandal could reveal if Trump’s administration is really unethically collaborating with Russia.

In the past, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has investigated issues such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the Benghazi attack, as well as her private email server, which Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) wants to continue investigating. This committee should begin an investigation into Flynn and the White House’s connection to Russia, but Chaffetz has said the Oversight Committee will not investigate Flynn.

Chaffetz has shown his commitment to investigating Democratic politicians — his committee tirelessly investigated Clinton from every possible angle. He is being hypocritical by not applying the same vigor toward inspecting Trump’s administration. Because there is so much suspicious activity connecting Trump’s administration to Russia, this could only be interpreted as a political maneuver. Political strategy is not uncommon in Congress, but our president’s potentially being influenced by Russia is not a partisan issue.

Russian relations is not the only ethics question mark for Trump. He has also refused to divest from his businesses. His own sons are running the business instead of a blind trust, which watchdog groups believe violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause. However, there has been no attempt by Republicans in Congress to investigate this massive conflict of interest.

Refusal to investigate ethics conflicts is a troubling trend. Our government relies on ethics rules to ensure the government is working for the people and not for their own interests. Without these regulations, there would be nothing stopping politicians from taking bribes or selling government positions. Those responsible for upholding ethics laws in the government need to take their jobs seriously and show commitment to keeping politicians on both sides of the aisle accountable.

Corruption in government harms everyone, regardless of political affiliation. While many issues today are highly politicized, ethics cannot be partisan.