Philip Blumel: Taking the fight to them. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the terms limits movement for the week of March 25th, 2019.
Stacey Selleck: You’re sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Term limits activism is not a rhetorical sport. With large majorities of nearly every demographic, including political parties, firmly in favor, the public debate on this issue has been won decisively long ago. The obstacle this issue faces today is only that self-interested politicians and their minions, the only identifiable demographic in opposition, are the decision makers.
Philip Blumel: Overcoming this opposition requires action, not rhetoric. This week, US Term Limits Executive Director Nick Tomboulides and Grassroots director Austin Sekel discuss some of the action in the field.
Nick Tomboulides: Austin has some interesting stuff to report because he actually just got back from the state of Georgia where we are living up to the theme of this week’s podcast, which is taking the fight to them. Of course in Georgia, the state senate, two weeks ago, passed the term limits convention and now, the Georgia speaker, David Ralston is refusing to bring it up for a vote in the State House. It can’t pass Georgia if there is no vote. So, this bill is bottled up in the rules committee right now, SR-237, and it’s up to the speaker to let it go and allow the vote.
Nick Tomboulides: Austin, as I understand it, you were in the speaker’s district over the last few weeks on several occasions. How did that go? What were you doing there?
Austin Sekel: I was up in Blue Ridge, Georgia. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s in Central Northern Georgia right by the the Tennessee and North Carolina state line. It’s pretty much the start of the Appalachian Trail. There’s a couple of small mountains south of there, but it’s generally known as the start. It’s a beautiful little place and I was knocking on doors and putting up some signs to spread the message on this Term Limits Bill in the Georgia house. Really, it’s solely up to the speaker of the house to give this bill the light of day or not. It’s up to his constituents on top of Georgia residents to to let them know that they support this measure.
Nick Tomboulides: Okay. So, you were quite literally taking the fight to them. I mean, there are a lot of political groups out there that … They start a website. They have a Facebook page and they just talk about issues. We’re not about just talking. We believe in action at US term limits and we actually go out into these states and into these districts and we make life difficult for the politicians who refuse to pass this. So, I’m grateful that you went out there and you did this. There’s no politician in America who likes to see someone going door-to-door in their district telling constituents that he’s not giving them what they want on an issue that’s got over 80% support.
Nick Tomboulides: So, let me ask you. What kind of reaction were you getting from his constituents when you would knock on those doors and you would say David Ralston is not allowing a vote on term limits for Congress?
Austin Sekel: There’s always the skeptic, some guy pulling up in front of your house or down the street and walking up to your yard, but outside of the skepticism of just saying hello, I don’t think one person said anything negative at all. I think people were pretty excited that there’s an opportunity to make this happen. The people want it. It’s not a battle of will or convincing people to to do something. It’s just hey, this is the opportunity we have on the table and let’s make it happen now.
Nick Tomboulides: Right. Yeah. It really shows you where the politicians’ priorities are. There’s so much we see that we all regard as very frustrating. Watching Congress, watching state legislators, they seem to always be listening to the lobbyists. They always seem to be listening to big business and the big unions, depending on your party, which keep them in office and that frustrates a lot of people, but they don’t seem to be listening to the citizens on this very simple issue of term limits. It’s something that really brings people together. Every elected official I hear out on the campaign trail says, “Well, I want to be bipartisan. I want to reach across the aisle and work with the other party.” There’s nothing like term limits that can bring people together. This is actually the one issue that people agree on. Donald Trump and Barack Obama agree on this issue. I mean, this is the unicorn of politics. It’s an issue that comes around really once-in-a-generation and it really boggles the mind that they’re so entrenched that they’re not willing to listen.
Nick Tomboulides: If you live in Georgia and you just want to contact the speaker, you can do that on our website. You can go to termlimits.com, click on the current actions tab. We have an action there called “Georgia Term Limit Congress.” Just click on that. You can send a message right through to him. There’s not a lot of time left to get this done, so I would encourage everybody to get on and make your voices heard right now.
Speaker 5: This is a public service announcement.
Philip Blumel: Former Texas Congressman, Beto O’Rourke has announced he’s running for president of the United States. Representative O’Rourke became a star in the Democratic party after he challenged Texas Senator Ted Cruz for his senate seat in 2016 and came remarkably close to winning. While in the house, Representative O’Rourke co-chaired the house term limits caucus, signed the US term limits Congressional pledge and was a co-sponsor of the US Term Limits Amendment. Here’s O’Rourke from 2013.
Beto O’Rourke: Our measure would not prescribe the number of terms a member would serve but by giving Congress the power to ultimately decide, I believe it will foster a productive conversation about how to make Congress more responsive to the needs of the American public. Many in our country feel that Congress has focused on re-election to the exclusion of solving our country’s problems. They are rightly concerned about the enormous powers of incumbency and the corrupting influence of money as well as the uncompetitive gerrymandered districts where the representative chooses his constituency and not the other way around.
Beto O’Rourke: We owe our constituents institutional reforms that address these concerns. Enacting comprehensive campaign finance reform, fixing the Congressional redistricting process and moving forward with sensible term limits can improve how Congress works. I urge all of my colleagues to join in this reform agenda.
Scott Tillman: Hi. This is Scott Tillman, the National Field Director with US term limits. I wanted to let you know about some upcoming events where you can connect with us to discuss term limits. Our executive director, Nick Tomboulides will be attending the Unrig the Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. This is hosted by the represent.us group and there’ll be many groups there presenting and discussing election reforms and improvements our current system needs. We will also be at Freedom Fest July 17th thru 20th in Las Vegas, Nevada, at Netroots July 11th through 13th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and at Western Conservative Summit July 11th thru 13th in Denver, Colorado. There are many events happening around the country. If you know of an event where US term limits should be, please contact us with the details.
Nick Tomboulides: Which state in America is the most corrupt when it comes to term limits? Is it even a debate?
Austin Sekel: Well, in essence, what about states that don’t have them? Are they all equally as corrupt as each other?
Nick Tomboulides: Okay.
Austin Sekel: Okay. Let me take a shot in the dark.
Nick Tomboulides: Okay. Which state’s politicians have the most voracious appetite when it comes to getting rid of term limits and allowing themselves to keep power for life?
Austin Sekel: It has to be Arkansas. There is no other way. I’ve witnessed, personally, multiple campaigns go down in flames not because of the people’s will not being upheld, but through deception and corruption and bribery. I remember hearing six or nine months ago … Maybe it’s even been a year but I think about nine months ago, Senator John Woods got locked up, put behind bars on bribery and extortion and corruption and a whole slew of things. Just to give you some context, this guy was an architect of a constitutional amendment that lengthened very much so the term limits that the people voted in the early ’90s for the state legislature and it’s sad to hear that. Something’s gone astray again in Arkansas. What’s going on out there?
Nick Tomboulides: Well, Arkansas is the natural state and it’s politicians naturally are terrible. John Woods was only apparently the tip of the iceberg. As you said, he was the architect of the biggest ballot scam in American history. Issue 3 in 2014, Arkansas has really great term limits enacted by the citizens and what this con-artist did was he created a ballot question that asked the people of Arkansas whether they wanted ethics, transparency, and financial reform. Of course you do, and while you’re at it, give me some-
Austin Sekel: Who would say no?
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. Give me some puppies and lollipops and mansions while you’re at it. So, that’s what the people of Arkansas were asked. They voted yes and then the next day, poof. They wake up, term limits are gone and the legislature gets 120% pay increase. What a scam. By the way, John Woods did not even get to enjoy … He did not even get to reap what he had sown because just a few years later, he was caught in a money laundering scheme. As a senator, he was directing money to a college under a state grant program and then taking kickbacks from that very same college. So, John Woods, in 2018, actually was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for fraud and money-laundering. No wonder he wanted to stay in office for life, but it gets even worse though. It gets even worse.
Nick Tomboulides: Now, there is a new bill proposed in Arkansas by a Senator, Alan Clark, that would not only make career politicians permanent and say that you could come back and run for the legislature as much as you want, but it would also stop the people of Arkansas from ever fixing their own term limits again. So, it would give the foxes total control of The henhouse. This is one of the worst pieces of legislation that we have ever seen and it is only contributing to Arkansas’s reputation as the worst state in America for term limits.
Austin Sekel: Well, here is the most baffling part about it too is that … We had mentioned earlier, in Utah, they recently, the other day, passed this Article V resolution. The same sort of resolution was just passed in the Arkansas legislature. So, they’re completely comfortable passing an application for term limits on members of Congress, but at home, they do everything in their power to preserve their own tenure. It’s like literally the complete contrast. [crosstalk 00:12:12]
Nick Tomboulides: Them boys in Congress, that’s a totally different story. We don’t have corruption here in Arkansas. Well, actually you do. You have lots of it and it’s only gotten worse since you gutted your term limits. No surprise there.
Austin Sekel: I wonder what will happen with Senator Clark’s tenure. What has this gentleman been up to? Just given the track record of people who try to deceive voters and lengthen, get rid of term limits, what’s his issue? We need to get him on the show. [crosstalk 00:12:42]
Nick Tomboulides: I don’t know. I don’t know. These politicians in Arkansas make Richard Nixon look like an amateur when it comes to corruption.
Philip Blumel: As long as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell runs the US Senate, the Congressional Term Limits Amendment Bill will not get a hearing. In a non-term limited legislature where power is held by senior incumbents, the wait could be forever. McConnell is the longest-serving US senator from Kentucky in history and is also the longest serving Republican US Senate Leader in history. McConnell was elected to the senate in 1984 and has been re-elected five times since then. During the 1998 and 2000 election cycles, McConnell was chairman of the fundraising outfit, the National Republican Senatorial Committee. McConnell was elected as majority whip in the 108th Congress and was re-elected to the post in 2004. In November 2006, McConnell was elected Senate Minority Leader and he held that post until 2015 when Republicans took control of the Senate and he became Senate Majority Leader.
Philip Blumel: Before serving in Congress, McConnell worked in the Gerald Ford Administration and also as chief executive of Jefferson County, Kentucky. In college, he studied political science and law and served on the student council. Politics is all this man has ever known. Not surprisingly then, when President Trump was elected making some noise about imposing Congressional term limits, McConnell famously put his foot down. Normally known for his pragmatism and compromise, here was an issue on which the turtle would no budge.
Mitch McConnell: I would say we have term limits now. They’re called elections and it will not be on the agenda in the Senate.
Philip Blumel: 12 members of his own party’s caucus have co-sponsor the US Term Limits Amendment Bill and McConnell ignores them. Maybe he needs some additional pressure from the other side of the aisle. Gearing up for the 2020 election, a new democratic-leaning group has formed called Ditch Mitch whose main aim is to jumpstart a challenge from Amy McGrath from [inaudible 00:14:44]. Amy McGrath has signed a US Term Limits pledge that if she were elected, she would co-sponsor and vote for the US Term Limits Amendment. Pitting a newbie against a 35 year incumbent, term limits would be the perfect wedge issue.
Philip Blumel: McGrath is a retired Marine fighter pilot who was seen as a rising star in her party in spite of her unsuccessful bid in the last election cycle against Representative Andy Barr in Kentucky 6th District.
Amy McGrath: In a fighter jet, it was never just about me. For every one of my 89 combat missions, there were hundreds of Marines who were part of the team. I’m Amy McGrath and Congress doesn’t think that way. Too many there refuse to work with the other side. They would rather block any good idea than let the other side get credit for anything. I approve this message because I’ll never take orders from a party leader, but I will work with anyone if it means we can get something done.
Philip Blumel: If McGrath is willing to work with both sides to get something done as she says, Kentucky would be a good place to do it as Junior Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is one of those 12 Republican co-sponsors of the Term Limits Amendment Bill. In any case, we welcome the debate.
Nick Tomboulides: So, it’s just not a level playing field and what the legislators in Arkansas are doing is they are gradually eroding the power of the citizens, Democrats and Republicans, to make changes in their states, a very unhealthy sign. By the way, there is no chance in hell that we are letting Arkansas legislators get away with this anti-term limits scam. That’s why Tom Steele of Little Rock who’s a US Term Limits activist has filed his own Constitutional Amendment that would limit State lawmakers to no more than 10 years in the legislature, six in the state house, eight in the state senate, but no more than 10 years overall. That would be the tightest term limit in America right now. That proposal has been filed with the secretary of state and as an added bonus, Tom Steele’s measure would stop Arkansas politicians from ever messing with their own term limits again. That’s if the voters approve it.
Nick Tomboulides: I can tell you US Term Limits is 100% behind this citizen-led campaign. We will work and do everything in our power, commit as many resources as are necessary to make sure that this succeeds.
Philip Blumel: Well, that’s it for this week. The battle of ideas is won. Our numbers are overwhelming and ultimately, our victory is simply a matter of enough people taking action. Well, how do you know where to start? The best bet is subscribing to this podcast. To do this, you can use the Podcasts app on your iPhone or use Google Play or Stitcher on your Android device or go to iTunes. While you’re there, please be sure to rate and review us. We’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have No Uncertain Terms Podcast.
Philip Blumel: This podcast is made possible by the support of you, the American people, and your voluntary financial contributions which can be made through our website at termlimits.com. Thank you.
Mitch McConnell: I would say we have term limits now. They’re called elections.
Speaker 10: [inaudible 00:18:40]
Mitch McConnell: I would say we have term limits now. They’re called elections.
Speaker 10: [inaudible 00:18:47].
The “No Uncertain Terms” podcast is produced by Duke Decter for U.S. Term Limits
Executive Producer Philip Blumel (President, U.S. Term Limits)