Most Americans think Congress is unethical
By Rachel Rose Hartman
The public may be shocked to find out that a married congressman has been sending lascivious photos of himself to women, but a new poll suggests that a majority of Americans are long accustomed to witnessing unethical conduct in the nation's lawmakers.
Fifty–eight percent of likely voters polled by Pulse Opinion Research for The Hill said most members of Congress are unethical. Just 25 percent endorsed the minority view, that most members are ethical. Seventeen percent of respondents said they were uncertain.
A large majority of those surveyed also said they believe Congress's ethical standards have been deteriorating. Sixty–eight percent of likely voters said the ethics of politicians have declined in recent decades, while just 7 percent said they have improved.
And neither party appears to be out in front on the ethics issue, according to the survey.
When asked to name the party regarded as more trustworthy, 36 percent of survey respondents said "neither." Just 31 percent said Democrats were most trustworthy, with 29 percent holding the same view of Republicans.
For years, Democratic and Republican party leaders have cast themselves as tough on ethics, but ethical scandals continue to dog legislators from both parties.
Last year, Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel (N.Y.) was censured by the House for multiple ethics violations including failing to report and pay taxes on rental income, improperly soliciting donations, and improperly running a campaign office. Earlier this year, Republican Rep. Chris Lee (N.Y.) resigned after the release of flirtatious emails and photos the married congressman had sent to women via Craigslist. Last month, the Senate Ethics Committee concluded that resigned Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) broke the law as well as Senate rules in an effort to cover up and extramarital affair. And former North Carolina senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards is currently fighting charges he violated the law covering up his own affair.
The Hill survey released Monday was conducted June 9–– days after Weiner admitted he did send a lewd photo to a Seattle–area college student. Since then, new photos have emerged that appear to show the New York Democrat photographing himself partially clad in the House Members' gym. Many fellow Democrats in Congress have called on him to resign.
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