When was the Office of Congressional Ethics established?

Answer: March 2008.

This one is a bit of an odd one to me and I'll tell you why. Established in 2008 as a nonpartisan, independent entity their responsibility is to review allegations of misconduct against members of the House of Representatives and their staff. They don't actually issue any punishment, they simply refer matter to the United States House Committee on Ethics.

The OCE's mission is "to assist the House in upholding high standards of ethical conduct for its Members, officers, and staff and, in so doing, to serve the American people"; within that framework it strives to foster transparency by keeping the public informed of its activities.

With its online presence, it aims to “give the public a 'window' into ethics enforcement in the United States House of Representatives.” The office is governed by an eight-person Board of Directors, comprised of members who are private citizens and cannot serve as members of Congress, or work for the federal government.

I say this is a weird one because I have mixed feelings about the role of this entity. On one hand I like the idea, because I don't want too much power to go unchecked in Washington, but on the other hand it seems like one more pointless bureaucratic layer. The red tape drives me crazy, and if these guys only have the power to "recommend" punishment then what's the point? I feel like their "nonpartisan" position leads to bias in one form or another as well. I picture it like House of Cards, where some random dude meets one of these guys in a train station late at night and slips them an anonymous tip about something the other side of the isle did.

Again - I like the idea of oversight with Washington, but if it ends up causing more harm than good in terms of extra, non vital layers then maybe we don't need them. 

At the end of the day, I ask these trivia questions to make sure you "Know Your Colors". Knowledge is power so let's put some of that back into the hands of our readers one day at a time.

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