Reps. Granger and Johnson
February 3, 1997
in this forum:
What happened behind the scenes during the Gingrich ethics vote? Are the lobbyists really waiting for your plane to land? How much pressure do you receive from party leaders? How can Congress be bipartisan when the leaders are at each others throats over ethics issues? Should House leader have their own PAC? What is your stand on the balanced budget amendment? Will there be campaign finance reform this session? What has surprised you most about Congress?
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A question from Pat Hogan of Chicago, IL:
From the reports we saw on tv and the speeches from the House floor, it seemed that the entire Gingrich ethics vote was orchestrated and carefully planned. Did you know what was going to happen that day? Had the leaders of your party approached you about how you were going to vote and how did you make up your mind to vote the way you did?
Rep. Kay Granger responds:
I do not believe the Gingrich ethics vote was orchestrated or carefully planned. However, Speaker Gingrich and the House Ethics Committee came to a previous agreement of the reprimand and the $300,000 assessment as settlement for the two violations of House rules. The Speaker agreed he should have sought legal counsel for his educational activities and its recommendations to take responsibility for his mistakes.
I was never asked by the House Leadership about how I was going to vote on the reprimand and they did not try to influence my decision. I voted to approve the bipartisan recommendations of the Ethics Committee, which sent a clear manage that it holds the Speaker to the highest ethical standards. I believe that the Chairman of the House Ethics Committee Nancy Johnson correctly summed up the Ethics Committee recommendation in this way: "The penalty is tough and unprecedented. It is also appropriate. No one is above the rules of the House of Representatives."
I now believe that it is time to put this behind us so that we get on with America's business.
Rep. Jay Johnson responds:
The mood of Congress the days before the vote seemed to be one of disbelief and disgrace and embarrassment. I think most members felt they owed it to their constituents and the institution to see that the Speaker was punished. Therefore, an overwhelming number of Members voted for the punishment, and I think most--on both sides of the aisle-- thought it wasn't nearly a tough enough sanction. We did meet, as Democrats, to talk about the ethics committee report and it's impact and the general feeling was that, since they had the controlling number of votes in the house, it would be mainly up to the Republicans to cast the deciding votes on punishment for their leader.