Yesterday the House Ethics Committee issued four dozen subpoenas but declined to appoint an outside counsel to investigate a possible cover-up of Mark Foley’s conduct by the House Republican leadership–meaning that they’re likely to sweep the most damning revelations under the rug.

There’s many reasons to distrust the Ethics Committee, which I outlined in a piece in January, “Ethics-Go-Round.” The most obvious red herring is that the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Doc Hastings, was specifically appointed by Hastert to prevent investigations of fellow Republicans.

After rebuking Tom DeLay three times, Hastert purged three Republicans from the committee and replaced the old chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley, with Hastings. The committee didn’t function for the next year, even as scandal after scandal gripped Washington.

Only recently did the Committee hire full-time staff and begin working again. But it’s hardly independent. Is the man who owes his job to Hastert really going to thoroughly investigate him?