In today's Washington Post, Joseph Califano has an editorial comparing the current sex scandal in the House of Representatives with the one in 1982:
The most troubling aspect of the Mark Foley scandal is not his conduct, disgusting as it was, but what the response of the leadership reveals about the rancid state of partisanship and the consequent decline of the House of Representatives. Speaker Dennis Hastert presides over a legislative body so infested with mistrust that it doesn't even have a functioning ethics committee. Since the House is incapable of washing its own dirty laundry and policing itself, the speaker has to turn over that responsibility to the attorney general and the executive branch of government.Let's think about what is different between the House of Representatives in 1982 and the House of Representatives in 2006. Hmmm... could it be that all of the leadership positions were held by... Democrats?
Compare the current situation with the way Speaker Tip O'Neill and the House handled the last scandal involving sexual misconduct with pages, in the summer of 1982.
Within a week [of the breaking scandal in '82] the House had authorized its ethics committee to conduct a full investigation of allegations of "sexual misconduct, illicit drug distribution and use, and offers of preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors or drugs by Members, officers or employees of the House." House Speaker O'Neill and Minority Leader Robert Michel asked me to be special counsel to the ethics committee, co-chaired by Ohio Democrat Lou Stokes and South Carolina Republican Floyd Spence. I was allowed to select my own staff and given a commitment that I could follow the evidence wherever it led, because, as O'Neill and Michel said, "The integrity of the House is at stake."
When I reported our findings to O'Neill and Michel, the dishonor that these members had brought on the House infuriated the two leaders. "Get it out," they said, "and let the committee recommend disciplinary action," which its four Democratic and four Republican members did, unanimously, in July 1983 ... The course the House took in that scandal, and its reaction to the current one, show the difference between a leadership that saw a threat to the integrity of the House of Representatives and one that sees a threat to its continuing control of the institution. It's useful today to remember that there was a time when partisanship took second place to trust and the House leadership had the strength to wash its own dirty laundry.
Sex Scandal Mark Foley Republican Corruption Culture of Corruption Joseph Califano