LEWISTON — The congressman who sought unsuccessfully to upend the Office of Congressional Ethics this week is a Bates College graduate who cut his teeth in politics as president of the Bates Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, graduated from Bates in 1974 with a degree in government.

Now he’s smack-dab in the middle of it.

Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sought to scale back the power of the ethics office but instead set off a firestorm that was doused only when President-elect Donald Trump joined the opposition to the congressman’s move.

Goodlatte grew up in Massachusetts before heading to college in Lewiston.

After graduation, he earned a law degree at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, became a lawyer there and wound up running for Congress in 1992 with a vow to stay no longer than 12 years.

But he stuck around longer and made it to a powerful committee perch that has allowed him to pursue some of his pet projects, from clamping down on spurious patent infringement lawsuits to immigration reform.

Most Americans, though, had never heard of him until this week’s wild start to a new congressional term when Republicans voted in secret to slice away some of the ethics oversight in the House.

They planned to ram the change through Tuesday, but criticism from Democrats and many GOP lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, slowed the momentum.

Then Trump tweeted his opposition and the effort was effectively dead, at least for now.

Goodlatte’s role was summed up in a headline in The Washington Post about his behind-the-scenes effort: “Meet the Virginia congressman who tried to gut the House ethics office.”

Goodlatte hasn’t forgotten his years at Bates College in Lewiston.

His top aide for years, Ben Cline, was a 1994 Bates graduate, and is now a Republican delegate in the Virginia Legislature.

In 1998, Goodlatte returned to campus to talk about issues facing Congress from a Judiciary Committee perspective.


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