An example of the broken ethics investigation process in Congress: Watchdogs lack bite, to benefit of both parties. U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson, a New Jersey Republican, in 2003 paid a $210,000 fine, the largest ever for a sitting member of Congress, to the Federal Election Commission. Ferguson, R-7th District., during his 2000 campaign had taken $525,000 from his parents, violating a statute limiting contributions from individuals to $1,000.
The settlement allowed Ferguson to claim he had not deliberately broken the federal law. The matter prompted no reaction from the House ethics panel, and Ferguson was re-elected in 2004.
Why wasn't the largest ever FEC fine for a sitting member of Congress investigated by its own ethics committee? More