New GOP rules ban ethics office from reporting crimes -- even if lawmakers are 'raping children'
Dennis Hastert (Photo: screen grab)

New rules passed in by congressional Republicans this week explicitly bar the Office of Congressional Ethics from reporting any crime directly to law enforcement.

On Monday, House Republicans voted in secret to strip the independent Office of Congressional Ethics of most of its power. What's left of the office will be moved under the House Ethics Committee, which is controlled by the Republican majority.

Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grime noted on Tuesday that a provision buried deep within the new rules prevents the Office of Congressional Ethics from notifying law enforcement of any type of crime.

"If at any time the board of the Office discovers information indicating that a matter which is the subject of a review by the board may involve a violation of a criminal law, the Board will immediately refer the matter to the Committee on Ethics for further review," the rules state. "Nothing in the previous sentence may be construed to authorize the Board to refer any matter directly to law enforcement."

LGBT advocate John Aravosis pointed out that the rules would even prevent the office from reporting incidences of child rape.

Last year, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for fraud charges linked to allegations that he sexually abused boys while he was a high school wrestling coach more than 30 years ago.

During Hastert's tenure as Speaker, congressional Republicans turned a blind eye to Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate relationship with an underage male page. Foley resigned after text messages he sent to the page were leaked to the press.