I am sure many of you are as stunned, saddened and angry over the recent revelations that Representative Mark Foley engaged in possibly criminal behavior with minors serving as pages in Congress. This scandal hits close to home for me. In 1993, my daughter Hannah was a page in the Senate. I sent her to Washington and I expected her to be safe and free from harassment. Thousands of other parents have done the same.

This incident raises a number of very troubling questions that demand answers from a scandal-ridden Congress that doesn't like to answer questions. After all, this is a Congress in which we've seen bribery, criminal convictions and former Members sit in jail. The House Ethics Committee has been inactive for the last two years.

But there is something concrete and realistic that the House can do right now to address the anything-goes culture that is so rampant in that chamber.

Common Cause calls on the House of Representatives to return to Washington DC before Election Day on Nov. 7 to establish an outside ethics commission to provide ethics oversight and enforcement of a body that has proven now beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is incapable of policing itself.

Sign the petition:


We also want House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Majority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE (R-OH) and Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-NY) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) to hold a public hearing and make public all information and all documents in their possession regarding the handling of Foley's sexually explicit e-mails.

We believe this is too serious an issue to wait until after the election. The House must reconvene before Election Day because the public has a right to know where every House Member who is up for re-election stands on their willingness to be held accountable.

You probably know that such a session of Congress would not be unprecedented. As recently as last year, Congress returned to Washington during its Easter Recess to consider the fate of Terri Schiavo, who was then in a vegetative state in Florida.