House Republicans pass vote to kill the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, speaks about the house's passage of the USA Freedom Act during a press conference at the Capitol on May 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

UPDATE: 12:14 p.m. EDT -- Following a GOP caucus meeting, the House ruling to kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was overturned.

Original Story:

The Office of Congressional Ethics was shut down after the House Republican Conference approved a quiet vote to close the office. They did not give any warning to the group. Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte announced the change Monday ahead of the 115th Congressional season.

The watchdog group, who was responsible for investigating complaints against lawmakers and lobbyist, will be replaced the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and will be predominately led by the lawmakers that the group initially intended to control.

The body of ethics monitored and examined complaints, scandals and misconducts reported against lawmakers based on anonymous tips and media reports. After conducting private interviews and collecting documents regarding public complaints, the independent, non-partisan panel determined if federal rules and regulations had been violated and voted on whether to send complaints to the full House Ethics Committee, who, in turn, conducted its own review of the case. Although the committee could dismiss the ethics violations, rules mandating a full release of the report detailing accusations, wrongdoings and complaints against lawmakers often led to scrutiny of lawmakers’ behavior and expensive defense campaigns.

Under Goodlatte’s new Office of Congressional Compliant Review, the panel would not be able to conduct reviews or build cases on lawmakers based on anonymous complaints. Along with the House Ethics Committee overseeing investigations, Goodlatte said the new office would be able to create special rules to “better safeguard the exercise of due process rights of both subject and witness.” The new panel will have the power to stop an investigation and ban the ethics office from releasing statements regarding cases.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, comprised of six board members and their staff, was created by Congress and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi following a string of lobbying scandals in 2008. Pelosi was just one of many outraged by the House’ decision to nix the office.

“Republicans claim they want to 'drain the swamp,' but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions. Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress," she said in a statement, adding, “The amendment Republicans approved tonight would functionally destroy this office."

Although a Republican House aide suggested to the New York Times that the new Office of Congressional Complaint Review would be the “same office, same people, most of the same rules,” investigative lawyer Bryson Morgan, who worked for the Office of Congressional Ethics, said that the ruling would lead to an overhaul of everything the body of ethics was built upon.

“This is huge,” he told the New York Times. “It effectively allows the committee to shut down any independent investigation into member misconduct. Historically, the ethics committee has failed to investigate member misconduct.”

President-Elect Donald Trump has also expressed his opinion of the House's decision to kill the Office of Congressional Ethics, saying on Twitter that Congress has "so many other things of far greater importance" to work on.