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Tom Murse

Members of Congress Rank Near Bottom in Honesty and Ethics

By December 3, 2012

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U.S. Capitol Dome Who do Americans trust more: Bankers, lawyers or members of the U.S. House of Representatives? Believe it or not, they believe those working in the legal and financial professions are more honest and ethical than members of Congress.

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The Gallup polling firm found members of Congress rank near the very bottom of almost two dozen professions in honesty and ethics, coming in barely above car salesmen. The public-opinion poll conducted in November ranked professions on a five-point scale ranging from "very high" to "very low."

Nurses, pharmacists and doctors ranked the highest; 85 percent of the 1,015 adults surveyed rated the ethics and honesty of nurses as being "very high" or "high" compared to the only 8 percent who gave the same score ro car salesman and 10 percent who said members of the House acted in such a manner.

Gallup notes that Congress has never been seen in a positive light in its 36 years of polling. Members of the House reached their high point in the public's eye immediately following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A quarter of Americans then rated their House members as having high or very high ethical standards.

Times have clearly changed. Polls show the public has lost faith that their elected officials can put partisanship aside and deal with the major issues of the day, which include the looming sequestration cuts and so-called "fiscal cliff." More than half of the respondents in the Gallup poll, 54 percent, rated members of the House "very low" or "low" in ethical behavior. By comparison, 45 percent said the same thing about members of the Senate and 49 percent said the same about car salesmen.

"Members of Congress have the dubious distinction of having the largest 'very low'/'low' rating of any profession tested this year - higher than car salespeople and senators," Gallup said.

Members of the House can take a small measure of solace in the poll findings, though. They show there's plenty of room for improvement. And they appear to have little effect on elections. As the results of the 2012 election show, while voters voice constant displeasure with their elected officials they often have few qualms about sending them back to Washington, D.C.

[Getty Images photo of the U.S. Capitol]

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