Bryson Morgan Comments on Recent Congressional Ethics Cases in New York Times

New York Times

WASHINGTON — As House ethics investigators were examining four cases this fall detailing a sweeping array of improper financial conduct by lawmakers, they ran into an obstacle: Two of the lawmakers under scrutiny refused to meet with them or provide documents.

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“There’s a trend towards not taking ethics rules seriously and also more resistance to cooperating in ethics investigations or, frankly, even acknowledging the legitimacy or authority of ethics investigation,” said Bryson B. Morgan, a lawyer at the firm Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, who was previously an investigative counsel for the Office of Congressional Ethics. “I think there’s been a bit of a backsliding on ethics.”

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Mr. Morgan said he believed ethical norms changed during the Trump era. As allegations piled up against President Donald J. Trump with no apparent consequences, many politicians concluded that ethical behavior no longer mattered and decided to stop cooperating with congressional investigations, he said.

“What people used to think was a career-ending mistake has been proven to not be a career-ending mistake,” Mr. Morgan said. “Many people have noticed a shift in ethical norms. It used to be the case that when a member violated the ethics rules, if not a fine, there would be a fairly stiff political price to pay. I worry that has gone away.”

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