WASHINGTON - April 1 - Greens pointed to an apparent bipartisan 'gentlemen's agreement' to tolerate ethics violations in Congress as evidence of the failure of the two-party system in the U.S.
According to recent stories in Roll Call and other periodicals, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will not authorize investigations of alleged ethics violations by Republican members of Congress, and as the ranking House Democrat prohibits fellow Democrats from filing complaints with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
"There's no greater indication that two-party dominance is the enemy of democracy and accountability," said Charles Shaw, media coordinator of the Illinois Green Party. "Democrats and Republicans -- who are already awash in money from corporate lobbies -- have made a deal to look the other way when bribery and other crimes are committed by members of Congress who belong to the two establishment parties. The only solution is the election of candidates from parties, such as the Greens, who refuse corporate money. Greens, free from the influence of corporate money and the authority of Pelosi and [House Majority Leader Tom] DeLay (R-Texas), will hold themselves and their colleagues in Congress to higher standards."
The most recent and blatant case involved threats and alleged offers of bribes directed at Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) on the House floor to persuade him to vote with the Republican leadership on the Medicare prescription drug bill in November 2003. An investigation was launched in February, after Democrats initially ignored the incident.
"If evidence shows that yea votes for the prescription drug bill were the result of bribery -- as well as lies from the Bush Administration about the cost of the bill -- then the bill must be invalidated, and Congress members and Bush officials who committed bribery or deception should be removed from office and indicted on criminal charges," said Greg Gerritt, secretary of the Green Party of the United States. "House Democrats, in tolerating Republican abuses, have made themselves just as responsible for the drug bill, which financially burdens millions of older Americans while transferring public money to private drug firms." (The Green Party of the United States strongly opposed the bill http://www.gp.org/press/pr_11_21_03.html )
In 1997, the House voted to prohibit outside groups from directly filing complaints with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
"Ever since 1997, watchdog organizations like Congressional Accountability Project, Judicial Watch, and Common Cause have expressed great frustration with the refusal of Democrats, especially Ms. Pelosi, to hold Republicans accountable for violations," said Marnie Glickman, co-chair of the national party. "It's one of many examples of Democrats enabling the worst practices and policies of the Republican Party. If we want to stem bipartisan corruption, let's allow outside organizations to file complaints, and let's start electing Greens to Congress."