"Maybe it will take a woman to clean up the House," Nancy Pelosi boasted before the 2006 midterm elections. Looks like those XX chromosomes didn't give her much advantage over the old cleaning crew. The swamp she was supposed to drain is overflowing. And fewer than four years after a sordid sexual predation scandal involving a creepy congressman rocked the Republican Party, a sordid sexual predation scandal involving a creepy congressman is now rocking the Democratic Party.
The same questions that dogged House leaders then are dogging House Speaker Pelosi now: What did she and her staff know, and when did they know it?
On Thursday afternoon, by a vote of 402-1, the House overwhelmingly passed a privileged resolution offered by the Republican leadership demanding a formal House Ethics Committee investigation of Pelosi and her (mis)handling of harassment allegations concerning disgraced former New York Rep. Eric Massa. The soft-on-corruption ethics panel (see under "Rangel, Charlie") had decided to shut down its investigation after Massa abruptly resigned on Monday.
But with reports piling up on how Massa kept a Capitol Hill playhouse filled with young, low-paid male staffers, and how Pelosi's office had fielded complaints of his bizarre and inappropriate behavior back in October, the House decided to pry the lid back open and put a stop to what the resolution calls the "public ridicule" the seeming cover-up has invited.
Housecleaner Pelosi cannot be pleased by the second-guessing of her handiwork. Color her an un-merry maid. Even Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, fresh from his raving House floor meltdown over media coverage of the Massa mess, voted for the GOP-initiated House resolution. Finally: Bipartisanship we can believe in!
With the exception of lone Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah who voted "no" and 27 members (including those who sit on the House Ethics Committee) who voted "present" or "not voting," every other member of Pelosi's House supported the petition to direct the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate fully "which House Democratic leaders and members of their respective staffs had knowledge prior to March 3, 2010 of the aforementioned allegations concerning Mr. Massa, and what actions each leader and staffer having any such knowledge took after learning of the allegations."