Nancy Pelosi’s ethics standard: same as Big Jule’s

In the Broadway classic Guys and Dolls Chicago gangster Big Jule loses a bet to Sky Masterson and as a result becomes a recalcitrant participant in a prayer meeting at the Save-a-Soul Mission. When called on to “testify,” i.e., confess his sins, Big Jule says,

Well, I used to be bad when I was a kid, but ever since then I’ve gone straight, as has been proved by my record: Thirty-three arrests and no convictions!

That’s the Big Jule ethics standard.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has apparently adopted the Big Jule ethics standard. She’s behaving differently from the person she claimed to be when she promised to “drain the swamp” in the first 100 hours after the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and elected her Speaker in January of 2007, three years ago.

The House Ethics Committee has just reported that House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, violated House ethics rules by accepting a Caribbean junket. This is the outcome of just one of the ethics investigations into Rangel’s finances. More serious are his failure to report half of his assets (he forgot) on the financial disclosure report that all members of Congress and senior executive branch people must file. He also forgot to report upwards of $75,000 in rental income on the form or on his tax return. The House Ethics Committee has had his case for twenty months—no action yet.

For Pelosi, this is just another “arrest-but-no-conviction,” just like Big Jule. She defended Rangel’s behavior (and hers): “They did not take action against him. They just said he did not willfully break the rules.”
Big Jule ethics is good enough for Pelosi but not for most of us: we think that how ethical you are depends on whether you keep your commitments (like draining the swamp) and whether you tolerate blatantly unethical behavior from people you lead (like removing a corrupt chairman of the committee that writes our tax code).

Read The Ethics Challenge: Strengthening Your Integrity in a Greedy World

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One Response to “Nancy Pelosi’s ethics standard: same as Big Jule’s”

  1. Churchill, Pelosi, and doing the right thing « Ethics Bob Says:

    […] they’ve tried everything else. He could have been anticipating Nancy Pelosi. She tried to defend her pal, sleazy New York congressman Charlie Rangel, even after the House Ethics Committee found him guilty […]

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