Before House Republicans backpedaled on their plan to reduce the power of the Office of Congressional Ethics this week, the one Washington State Republican representative who had the chance to vote on the change voted for it.
Dave Reichert—the anti-gay/former sheriff/Auburn Republican who you may remember from when he tried to target welfare recipients for buying weed with welfare money even though that's already illegal—voted Monday night in favor of the rules change that would have weakened the ethics office, according to Talking Points Memo and the Seattle Times Editorial Board.
It's a position even the Times Editorial Board thinks is absurd:
Reichert should win a fictional Winston Smith award—named for the protagonist in George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”—for claiming “in no way did it relax ethics standards or strip the OCE of its authority.”
Our state's other Republicans split:
A representative in the office of Rep. Dan Newhouse from Sunnyside told the Seattle Times Editorial Board he missed the vote but would have voted yes.
Rep. Jaime Herrerra Beutler from Camas opposed the move. In a statement to KUOW and the Times, Herrerra Beutler said reducing ethics oversight "sends entirely the wrong message," but her office told the Chinook Observer that she was not actually at the vote.
And the office of Spokane's Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who couldn't vote on the changes because of her position as chair of the House Republican Caucus, told the Times she "had serious concerns." (Though in other interviews McMorris Rodgers seemed more supportive.)
While the House GOP quickly backtracked on this issue, Monday's vote revealed one of two things: an interesting split among Washington State's Republicans or, more simply, a couple of congresspeople who, facing intense public outrage, were eager to take the more sympathetic position after the fact.