Philip Blumel: The term limits train keeps on a rolling. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the term limits movement for the week of January 28th, 2019.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: As the first ever term limits day approaches on February 27th, momentum is building for the Federal Congressional Term Limits Amendment Bill and the various state resolutions calling for a term limits convention under Article V of the US Constitution. And dare we hope for a boost from the expanding field of Democratic presidential candidates? After a crazy busy week, we tracked down US Term Limits executive director, Nic Tomboulides for updates and answers. Hey Nic.
Nic Tomboulides: Phil, how are you?
Philip Blumel: All right. So, we’re making some progress on these bills both in Washington DC and in the states. And I think the big news this week has to be from the south where we got two more cosponsors, on the Senate version of the Congressional Term Limits Amendment Bill, Senator Rick Scott of Florida and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina are both jumped on the bill.
Nic Tomboulides: Right.
Philip Blumel: So one thing that’s really exciting about this is that Rick Scott of course is the governor of the third largest state. I’m sorry, the senator from the third largest state, formerly governor, the third largest state. And he was not a pledge signer. So we were a little bit worried, but he jumped on the bill. And so, we’re really excited about that.
Nic Tomboulides: Yeah. When he wouldn’t sign the pledge initially during the campaign, I was very concerned because I trust politicians less than used car salesman. But it is a very encouraging sign that he has kept his word to the voters of Florida and sponsored the US Term Limits amendment.
Rick Scott: There’s more than 41,000 zip codes in America. In all but one zip code, they want term limits on Congress. It’s common sense. The only place that doesn’t want term limits on Congress, right here, Washington, where all the career politicians are. In Washington, they say term limits can’t be done. It’s nonsense. We don’t work for them. They work for us. I’m Rick Scott. I approve this message. Let’s get to work.
Nic Tomboulides: And maybe I’m biased because I live in Florida, but I think Rick Scott is kind of a big deal. He was a successful two term governor here. He just unseated a 46-year political incumbent. Scott is a national figure. He has the ability to move the needle on pretty much any issue. And him coming out for this will send a shockwave through Washington, D.C.
Philip Blumel: I agree with that. He ran a major company and he’s never lost an election, and I’m thinking he’s probably got some presidential ambitions. So I think that is a big deal, you’re right. And when you say he made a promise to Floridians, he did. He did not sign our pledge, which concerned us because generally that means that the politician is lying to us. But he made a pledge to voters that he was going to be supportive of this issue, in fact ran ads on this issue. It was a major part of his campaign and a major part of why he was elected to the Senate. He didn’t win by much.
Nic Tomboulides: He spent millions of dollars on those ads too. And I think he only won the election by about 10,000 votes. So it’s difficult to believe that he would have won that election if he hadn’t put his arms around term limits and made it the keystone issue of his campaign.
Philip Blumel: It was a big part of it
Nic Tomboulides: When he was governor, what we saw from him, he had little patience for things not getting done. He was never afraid to rattle cages. And let’s see if he’s going to bring that attitude to D.C. Because if he does on term limits, it’s going to be tough sledding for Mitch McConnell and his crew. I don’t think Scott is the person who would let McConnell and leadership get away with dodging this issue.
Philip Blumel: That’s the truth. Tim Scott in South Carolina, he’s notable for many reasons. One, he’s the first African American senator elected since reconstruction in the south. That was a big deal. And he’s been a stalwart on the issue of term limits also. He is a pledge signer and he’s fulfilling his pledge by jumping on bill. So we’re excited about that too, is a big week, two more senators, which means that 10% of the US Senate has cosponsored the US Term Limits Amendment Bill.
Stacey Selleck: Mark your calendars. February 27th is National Term Limits day, and it’s less than a month away. With a renewed push to impose term limits on the US Congress, a new national day has emerged from the term limits movement. The idea is simple enough. On February 27th each year, everyone is encouraged to make a show of public support for term limits. This can be as simple as posting a term limit sign in your yard or wearing a term limits tee shirt or hat on term limits day, February 27th. Remind the politicians that our support is not passive. If term limits are good enough for the president, they’re good enough for Congress. You probably already know that the battle for term limits is taking place on two major fronts simultaneously, in Congress and in the states.
Stacey Selleck: In the US Congress, term limits amendment resolutions have been introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (S.J.R. 1) and Representative Francis Rooney (H.J.R. 20) and their respective chambers. On February 27th, we will also be contacting our state legislators to ask them to support a congressional term limits resolution. Here are some ideas for February 27th term limits day activism:
- Post a term limits sign in your yard. You can make one of your own or purchase one from our store at termlimits.com/shop.
- Another thing you can do is hang a pro term limits banner over a busy over pass. Maybe something like, “Happy term limits day, February 27th.”
- You can also organize a sign wave at a busy intersection. Grab a couple of friends and make some homemade signs that say, “Honk, if you love term limits,” and enjoy the public support you’ll hear from passers by.
Stacey Selleck: Use term limits stay as your annual reminder to contact your state and local representatives on this issue. Go to term limits.com/legislators and use our easy peasy online tool to contact both your federal senators and your US House Rep. Wish them a happy term limits day.
And finally you can take a selfie holding a happy term limits day sign and post it on your social media. Make sure you use the Hashtag, term limits day. Whatever you decide to do, send pictures to term limits day at termlimits.com and it will be shared with hundreds of thousands, fellow term limits supporters just like you. What has started as a day of action may well serve as an annual celebration of the people’s victory. You can make history by saying you were a February 27 term limits day founder.
Speaker 6: Power. People have the power. People have the power. People have the power.
Philip Blumel: So they’re making progress on the federal front, but of course they’ll never pass it by themselves without a lot of pressure from the state and from the people. And so, we also look to the states where there’s a movement to call for amendment writing convention limited to the subject of congressional term limits. Three states have made such a call and there’s more calls on the way this year. So what progress are we making there, Nick?
Nic Tomboulides: Well, we have very exciting news to announce this week. We actually have our first public hearing scheduled in a state in the 2019 session for the term limits convention. That is in the state of New Hampshire.
Philip Blumel: Great.
Nic Tomboulides: New Hampshire’s a democratically controlled state, so it’s an exciting development. The resolution there is House Concurrent Resolution six, H.C.R. six, and that will be up next Wednesday, January 30th, at 11:00 AM in committees in New Hampshire.
Philip Blumel: Well, we have some work to do then. This is the same resolution that passed in Florida and Alabama and Missouri, correct?
Nic Tomboulides: That is right.
Philip Blumel: Okay. And so it’s the tournament’s convention bill. And this would be our first democratic duly controlled state to pass it. We got to get on it. So what should people be doing right now? If you live in New Hampshire, what should we tell people to do who live in New Hampshire right now?
Nic Tomboulides: We need people to contact members of the state and federal relations committee, which is where this is up in the house. Contact members of that committee and encourage them to pass the resolution. We really only want you to do this if you live in New Hampshire because it’s better when the representatives here from their own constituents. If you live in a different state, that’s okay, there’re still ways for you to get involved. But if you live in New Hampshire, specifically, go to term limits.com/nh, abbreviation for New Hampshire, slash nh action, term limits.com/nh action. That is the way to send a call to action to the members of the New Hampshire General Assembly and ask them to pass this resolution.
Philip Blumel: How about other states? Any other progress?
Nic Tomboulides: West Virginia is a state where we are seeing a huge surge in momentum. It has been filed there. It’s been introduced as a bipartisan bill, led by delegate Jeffrey Pack. In West Virginia, it is House Concurrent Resolution three. The reason I mentioned Jeffery Pack, he’s the lead sponsor in West Virginia. It’s important to recognize these state legislators are picking up the slack where members of Congress will not do it. The House of Representatives, they have that name that they don’t really represent anyone, because if they did, they’d be listening to the 82% of people who want term limits. It’s state legislators who were stepping up to the plate right now to represent us and we just want to give credit where it’s due. So thank you delegate Jeff Pack in West Virginia for stepping up to the plate and filing this resolution.
Speaker 7: The son of Queen Sheila Jackson Lee. I’m miss Jackson. I am for real.
Philip Blumel: It’s ironic that many Americans look to Congress for laws to protect us against sexual harassment. The congress itself is a hotbed of such behavior. Think of Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and representative John Conyers, a Michigan who were forced to step down from the last congress. Also, representative Trent Franks of Arizona, Patrick Meehan, Pennsylvania, Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania, Joe Barton of Texas and Blake Fahrenthold of Texas. The latest cassie of this bipartisan Congressional subculture is 24 year veteran representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, whose district includes most of central Houston.
Sheila Jackson: Let us vote to provide for unemployment insurance for working men and women-
Speaker 9: Gentlewoman’s time’s expired.
Sheila Jackson: … so that faces across America will not have the tear of desperation-
Speaker 9: Gentlewoman’s time is expired.
Sheila Jackson: The field is good-
Speaker 9: The gentlewoman’s time is expired.
Sheila Jackson: … and the people are suffering-
Speaker 9: The gentlewoman’s time is expired.
Philip Blumel: While retaining her office so far, representative Jackson Lee resigned last week as chairwoman for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. After being accused of retaliating against a female employee of the foundation who claims to have been sexually assaulted. The woman named Jane Doe in her legal complaint since she was fired by representative Jackson Lee when she made the matter public. The story begins in 2015 when Jane Doe was a 19 year old student at Howard University and took an internship at the foundation for a semester. She says the internship coordinator took her drinking one night. The evening ended in his apartment where he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex and other unwanted sex acts. The intern coordinator denied this, but he was fired anyway for drinking with a minor when Jane Doe brought to the attention of the foundation. No charges were filed, so this might have been the end of it, but representative Jackson Lee hired Jane Doe again later to work on her staff in 2017 and shortly thereafter was also considering hiring the old intern coordinator.
Philip Blumel: According to Jane Doe, she balked noisily about this and was fired as a result.
Sheila Jackson Lee: We have martial law. What that means, and my colleagues knows what it means, is that you can put a bill on in just minutes.
Philip Blumel: Representative Lee resigned from the board after being given an ultimatum by the foundation board that if she had not do so, she would face a removal vote. The National Alliance to end sexual violence similarly said it could not continue to work with representative Jackson Lee as the lead sponsor on legislation reauthorizing the violence against Women Act. We have no special knowledge regarding these allegations, but the arrogance they portray fits with representative Jackson Lee’s reputation as Congress’s Queen Bee.
Speaker 11: Who paid for that trip for you to go to that memorial service?
Sheila Jackson Lee: Well, those are resources that I have and therefore they are in a way that does not interfere with anything that has to do with serving of the United States Congress.
Speaker 11: Understood. So public funds or?
Sheila Jackson Lee: Those resources are resources that I have.
Philip Blumel: At the end of 2017, Queen Jackson Lee insisted at school teacher Jean Marie Simon give up her first class seat as there were none available for Queen Jackson Lee. United Airlines apologized and provided Simon a voucher for the flight. It was pointed out to Simon who had bumped her and she posted the picture of Queen Jackson Lee sitting in her sit on Facebook. Responding to the fear that that caused, the queen suggested that Simon who turns out is a celebrated photo journalists who helps document human rights abuses in developing nations created this stir because Queen Jackson Lee is an African American woman.
Philip Blumel: When called out on her history of sometimes hilarious misstatements, such as confusing Hurricane Sandy with the Sandy Hook massacre, conflating Wikileaks and Wikipedia, and referring to an American flag that moon astronauts Neil Armstrong, left on Mars. She routinely counters with charges of racism. Regarding the Mars incident. Queen Jackson Lee defended her error saying, “You thought you could have fun with a black woman member of the Science Committee. Former staffers report that she had an abusive temper and regularly hurls profanities at her underlings with stupid mother fucker ranking high amongst your favorites.
Sheila Jackson: I don’t know what else to say. I am outraged and that’s why my voice is going up. Outraged.
Philip Blumel: Not surprisingly, she has one of the highest staff turnover rates in Congress. The Houston Chronicle reports that she had gone through 11 chiefs of Staff in 11 years, and a 2013 report concluded Queen Jackson Lee “Had the highest turnover rate of all of congress over the last decade.” Exhibiting such arrogance, it is not surprising that the 13 term representative ignores the demands of her constituents to enact congressional term limits. Queen Jackson Lee gets an F-rating at termlimits.com/legislators for refusing to sign the US term limits pledge and cosponsor that Congressional Term Limits Amendment Bill. “You don’t understand. I’m a queen and I demand to be treated like a queen.” She allegedly once told a member of her staff. Whether she said this or not, her actions speak as loud as those words.
Speaker 7: [inaudible 00:15:11] Miss Jackson. I am for real.
Philip Blumel: Well, enough with hard news. Let’s get a little bit speculative here. We have a presidential election coming up in 2020. I know it’s not around the corner … just around the corner, but people are already talking about it and the field is already expanding. So, it’s probably worth taking a look at some of these Democratic presidential candidates and divining how they’re going to support term limits on Congress or not.
Nic Tomboulides: It’s a positive sign that there have been a few Democrat candidates coming out for term limits. I think there are like six million Democrats running for president.
Philip Blumel: At least.
Nic Tomboulides: At least. Yeah. Of that group, a few of them have come out for it, Beto O’Rourke has put himself ahead of the curve. He started the congressional term limits caucus. He famously said that without term limits, politicians become a-holes. Huge a-holes. We agree with that. But there’re also several other candidates, mostly second, third tier candidates who have weighed in on this. And they’ve provided some really interesting comments so far.
Philip Blumel: The first Democrat to announce was John Delaney, who is a US representative from Maryland, and he’s only been in office for a little while. He was elected in 2013, 55 years old, and he is explicitly for congressional term limits and has been advocating them in the US congress. And his quote from his website says that, “Term limits can increase electorial competition and serve as a check against entrenched career politicians and special interests.” Well, that’s our message right there.
Nic Tomboulides: It is. He’s offered a plan. I think it’s a little too long at 12 years in each chamber. In my view, it’s kind of absurd to give a legislator more tenure than the leader of the free world who’s limited to only eight years. But you can’t sleep on Delaney. He is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. A lot of people have never heard of him before, but when you’ve got a war chest of several hundred million dollars, you can potentially change that in a hurry. So, if Delaney is not on the radar yet, he will be in the near future.
Philip Blumel: Right. Okay. Who else is on the list?
Nic Tomboulides: Well, there are some interesting ones. Andrew Yang is one of these third tier kind of underdog candidates, but he’s not someone that you really want to ignore because he’s got an interesting pedigree.
Philip Blumel: He does.
Nic Tomboulides: He is a former Obama ambassador on global entrepreneurship. He’s a successful business guy who is running for president and he has given a thumbs up to legislative term limits. He hasn’t told us what his preferred length is but he’s a candidate who has come out for this.
Philip Blumel: He had mentioned something about supporting a term limits on the Supreme Court, which is an idea that’s gaining a lot of support. And somebody asked him whether he supported also congressional term limits and he said, “Thumbs up.” So that looks good. And you know, he’s a young guy. He’s calling for generational change. He’s 43 years old.
Nic Tomboulides: That’s a baby as far as- [crosstalk 00:18:15]
Philip Blumel: Oh, absolutely. So there’s things about him, about his biography that make him a sort of natural supporter for this idea. So he’s someone else to watch, and he’s also got some money in his own pocket.
Nic Tomboulides: It’s right.
Philip Blumel: Well, we know a couple of these folks are against it. They’ve come out and they’ve already said that it’s a bad idea. And one of them is a senator Elizabeth Warren who would have to be on the A list. Well, the A list for professional politicians running for president.
Nic Tomboulides: Well, I think what you might see here is that some of the A listers will either have to moderate their positions or change them entirely on this, because you don’t want to go against 76% of voters in a democratic primary. We know Bernie Sanders is against it. Joe Biden, I don’t really think has weighed. The marky candidates have not really weighed in in detail aside from Beto.
Philip Blumel: Right.
Nic Tomboulides: But some of the second tier people might try to force the issue and create a debate on this within the party. And it will be hard for them to take the wrong position under the threat of pressure from people like Beto who have always been for it. So I think Elizabeth Warren may soon face a dilemma of having to either jump on that train or be run over by it.
Philip Blumel: Right. Sometimes these details are fascinating and they may give us a little insight, but we don’t know what they mean just yet. On one that’s pretty clear is Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York. He had an eight year term limit on him and he decided he didn’t like it, and he’s used to getting his way, and the voters of New York in 1993, in an initiative put term limits into place on that position. And in 1996 reaffirmed their support for that. And in 2008, when mayor Bloomberg was running into this problem, he was doing the polling and realized that the voters still very much embrace these term limits. So he decided that he couldn’t risk putting the vote to the people again. He got his lawyers together and decided it was okay to just have the city council change the law instead of the people and got it done. And he’s expressed some regret about that. I hear.
Nic Tomboulides: And it was really a term limits for they but not for me situation.
Philip Blumel: That’s it.
Nic Tomboulides: At the time, Bloomberg announced that he was just so indispensable for the city. There was a financial crisis and the city would literally collapse onto itself if he were not allowed to serve a third consecutive term. And so they amended the charter, undemocratically, just so he could stay in power. And then after he did his third term, they changed it back. They restored the eight year limit and he supported that effort.
Philip Blumel: He did.
Nic Tomboulides: It’s a tenuous relationship with term limits at best. But Bloomberg to this day claims that he is a term limit supporter.
Philip Blumel: I know- [crosstalk 00:21:14].
Nic Tomboulides: That’s what he will say in interviews. It’s term limits for everyone but him, I think. That’s his stated position. You’ll see how that shakes out in the primary. If I’m Beto O’Rourke or one of these other candidates who’s stood strong my entire career and Bloomberg runs for office, I’m going to hit him hard.
Speaker 12: Welcome aboard. It’s episode 58 of the J.R. Hoeft show. We are available on apple podcasts, Google podcast. Happen to have on the podcast this week Nick Tomboulides of US term limits. He is the executive director. Nick, congratulations to you and to the No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Nic Tomboulides: Thank you. Yeah, we’re really excited about it and the thing that I liked the most is that we are totally bipartisan. We appeal to people on both sides of the political spectrum who are just fed up with the existing political system and want to see it work more, be more accountable to the public. And so we’re generating very bipartisan strong audience reaction.
Stacey: To hear the entire interview with Nick’s Tomboulides, go to termlimits.com/podcast under episode 25 show notes. Click on the link to the J.R. Heft show.
Philip Blumel: Insulated and irresponsible congress members continue to disgrace themselves while citizens putting increasing pressure on Washington and our state capitals to impose congressional term limits. How can we lose? Only by inaction. Action begins with information and sharing information. Your mission this week should you decide to accept it is to go to iTunes on your phone or computer and under podcasts, search out the No Uncertain Terms podcast. There, you’ll find the link to ratings and reviews. Click it and then please rate and review us. This may not sound like much, but it is. Highly rated podcast with lots of reviews are presented by ITunes to podcast listeners looking for ideas and this expands our reach. Thanks. We’ll be back next week.
Stacey: Hi, this is Stacey and I have some exciting news for you. We relaunched our us term limits online store with updated merchandise, so you can get your term limits swag on before National Term Limits Day on February 27th. And, as a special offer for a limited time only, you’ll get 10% off everything in the store if you purchase before February 15th. We have tee shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, baseball cap, spanners, and more. So check out our store at termlimits.com/shop. And remember, you get 10% off everything. If you place your order before February 15th.