10/09/2006 02:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Remember Joel Hefley! The House Ethics Committee Sham

Remember Joel Hefley?

Hefley is a Republican Representative from Colorado. Until early 2005, he was the chair of the House Ethics Committee.

But then Speaker Dennis Hastert threw Hefley off the committee, for having the temerity to permit the ethics committee merely to admonish disgraced, departed and now indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Hastert reconstructed the committee, appointing Representative Doc Hastings of Washington as its chair -- the same Hastings who will serve on the ethics subcommittee investigation of the Foley affair.

Here's what The Hill said about Hastert's move in 2005:

The substitutions are widely seen as being designed to rein in a committee, officially called the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, that many GOP lawmakers believe had spun out of control.

Now Hastert says everyone should rest easy, because the Ethics Committee -- the same committee he revamped to ensure that it got back under control (his control) -- has launched an investigation into the Foley scandal.

Oh, by the way, USA Today points out that Hastert's political action committee has contributed to Hastings and the other Republican on the subcommittee, Rep. Judy Biggert of Illinois.

Unfortunately for Hastert, while he and the Republican leadership may be masters at intimidating, misdirecting and covering up when it comes to everyday corruption and abuse of power, the forces unleashed by a sex scandal appear to be too great to be contained or distracted by an ethics committee referral. Still, just in the name of raising ethical standards on the Hill, it's important that Hastert's effort to use a committee he dismembered be denounced; that outside counsel be appointed to investigate this scandal; and that a permanent, independent commission be empowered to investigate congressional misconduct.