NEW ETHICS PANEL….Nancy Pelosi finally wore everyone down and got the House to pass a new law setting up an independent ethics panel:

The six members of the new Office of Congressional Ethics would have the authority to initiate preliminary reviews of allegations against House members, conduct investigations and refer their findings to the House ethics committee along with a public report.

“For the first time in history, you have nonmembers able to initiate investigations,” said Sarah Dufendach, chief lobbyist for the watchdog group Common Cause. “They’re doing oversight. They’re the new police.”

I’ll be genuinely curious to see how this works out. The panel doesn’t have a huge amount of power (in particular, it has no ability to issue subpoenas) and its only authority is to investigate and then pass along reports to the House ethics committee. But it’s not a bad start.

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