Dear new members of Congress,
Here is some free advice that you need:
1. Put the House Ethics Office on speed dial or, if you’re a Senator, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. Add the committee’s email to your contacts.
2. Go introduce yourself individually, even if you...
...have already received an ethics briefing. When I say go introduce yourself, I don’t mean only to the members on the committee — I mean introduce yourself to the STAFFERS on that committee who will be available to advise you. Bring your top staffer with you to meet them. Get...
...some phone numbers and email addresses. USE those numbers and emails in the coming weeks.
3. Ask them to train your staff.
4. Ask them about gifts, disclosure, fundraising, misuse of position and outside activities. Ask what else you should be asking.
5. Tell your staff...
...that ethics is important to you.
6. SHOW your staff that ethics is important to you. (If this item doesn’t prove to be unpleasant for you, you’re doing it wrong.)
7. Make a pledge (and keep the pledge) that you will never ever respond with anger when someone on your...
...staff raises an ethics concern or gives you ethics advice that you don’t like. (Otherwise, your staff will be afraid to raise concerns and you may wind up hearing it from the Office of Congressional Ethics or the ethics committee — you will not enjoy that.)
8. If you’re in...
...the House and you don’t know what the Office of Congressional Ethics is, find out NOW! (It’s not the ethics committee.)
9. Read The Onion article titled “Congressman Hurt To Discover Lobbyist Not Really His Friend..” Don’t be like the legislator in that article. Nobody...
...who wants anything from you in this town is your friend.
10. Get to work on your new entrant financial disclosure report. Know this: You are going to get it wrong. That’s why you should either get help from the Ethics Committee, if they have time to look at a draft before...
...you file it, or (if they don’t) from somebody who knows what they’re doing.
Now go forth and be ethical legislators and do a great job for your country.
You can follow @waltshaub.
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