Watchdog: House leadership 'does not take ethics seriously'

A key watchdog group chastised the new House GOP majority on Friday for making Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) the chairman of the ethics committee.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a good-government group based in Washington, said Bonner's relationship with other committee members is too contentious for him to head the sensitive panel.

"We’re only two days into the new Congress and already the House leadership has demonstrated it does not take ethics seriously," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement.

The group pointed to the committee's inaction in an investigation into Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and other disagreements as reasons Bonner should not be chairman.

"The relationship between Reps. [Zoe] Lofgren [D-Calif.] and Bonner disintegrated over the course of the last Congress to the point where Rep. Bonner locked staffers out of the committee, two staff members were suspended and the investigation into Rep. Waters is in tatters," Sloan said. "Further, Rep. Lofgren publicly stated she didn’t want the job and another member on the committee, Rep. G.K. Butterfield [D-N.C.], proclaimed that the committee had become so toxic as to require entirely new membership.

"Nevertheless, the House leadership has chosen to ignore the committee’s well-publicized problems and reappoint Reps. Bonner and Lofgren. This move signals how little regard the new House has for the ethics process."