Independent House ethics office wins reprieve to continue inquiries after public outcry, Trump flak

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – The Office of Congressional Ethics won a reprieve Tuesday, after House Republicans reversed course and dropped plans to gut the independent panel following a public outcry and criticism from President-elect Donald Trump. At least six lawmakers remain under investigation following complaints initially reviewed by the OCE, including Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth highest-ranking House Republican. Other ongoing investigations target Republican Reps. Created in 2008, the ethics office is a nonpartisan entity that reviews allegations of misconduct against House members, officers and staff, and makes recommendations to the House Ethics Committee. In most cases, the OCE report and findings must be publicly released.


A world leader in AI just established an ethics committee for artificial intelligence

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to have a monumental impact on society. As such, DeepMind, an AI research company now housed under Google parent company Alphabet, has established a new unit dedicated to answering questions about the effect the technology might have on the way we live. DeepMind Ethics and Society will bring together employees from the company and outsiders who are uniquely equipped to offer useful perspectives. Economist and former UN advisor Jeffrey Sachs, University of Oxford AI professor Nick Bostrom, and climate change campaigner Christiana Figueres are among the advisers selected for the group. At present, the unit comprises around eight DeepMind employees and six unpaid fellows from outside the company.


Lawmakers Urged to Update Ethics Law to Combat Harassment

U.S. News

The Legislative Ethics Commission recommended Tuesday that the ethics law be revised to specifically prohibit workplace harassment by lawmakers against their staff. The legislative ethics law currently does not include such language.


Government Ethics Office Website Crashes Under Too Much Traffic -- Again

NPR Technology

The Office of Government Ethics is back in the news as its website crashed, for the second time in less than a month, again under a flood of inquiries. The Office of Government Ethics website was down on Thursday, after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway urged people to buy Ivanka Trump's products, potentially violating federal ethics rules. The advisory agency typically works to vet people who run the country and detangle them from financial ties that may influence their work in public office. And typically, this work happens quietly in the background when administrations transition from one president to another. But the OGE has received an extraordinary amount of spotlight as Donald Trump has become president.


GOP senator defends EPA chief, calls ethics allegations lies and blasts media

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – A senior Republican senator on Wednesday mounted a strong public defense of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, calling ethics allegations against Pruitt "outrageous" and "lies." Sen. James Inhofe, from Pruitt's home state of Oklahoma, spoke after summoning Pruitt to a one-on-one meeting this week to discuss more than a dozen allegations that Pruitt has misused his office to obtain perks and material benefits for himself and his family, including costly, taxpayer-funded premium-class trips and round-the-clock security. "This is the type of outrageous lies you hear in Washington that people don't have a chance to respond to," Inhofe said at a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works confirmation hearing for two EPA nominees that quickly turned into a sparring session about Pruitt. Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware listed some of the ethics allegations against Pruitt and said the Senate isn't doing enough to examine them and hold him accountable. "We are abdicating a fundamental responsibility of this body if we continue to do so," he said.