Philip Blumel: Happy New Year. Hi, I’m Phillip Blumel, welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits movement for the week of January 3rd, 2022.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: What were the top Term Limits stories of last year, and what can we expect from 2022? Let’s ask Scott Tillman, National Field Director for US Term Limits. Hey, Scott.
Scott Tillman: Hey, Phil.
Philip Blumel: So, 2021 is now behind us. Did we make measurable progress in 2021? I mean can we say that we moved the ball?
Scott Tillman: We really can. We have a new achievement in the passing of the resolution, adding another one to our tally, which is West Virginia, and there’s other things that we’ve done too that have really moved the ball, but the big one to point to is West Virginia, and the fact that we passed another resolution.
Philip Blumel: Okay, right, because what we’re talking about here is our goal of imposing Term Limits on the US Congress and our strategy of getting state after state to officially apply for a amendment writing convention under Article 5 of the US Constitution, limited to the subject of congressional term limits. The one measurable thing that we have that can show that we made a step towards our goal is to get another state. We have four now, depending on how you count, we could have a lot more, but we have four certain, with the exact same language calling for the exact same thing in the exact same way, and so that was certainly the top story. But there was a whole lot of action this year too, and it’s worth mentioning some of these others. Before we do, maybe we should talk about also our near misses on getting new states, because we got one state that is to say we got both Houses to approve the Term Limits Convention Resolution, but we came close in several, right? What were some of the others?
Scott Tillman: We did, we’ve been very close in Arizona and Tennessee. We’ve also been close in Iowa, we introduced some stuff… Not as close in Iowa, it’s not the best place for me to give an example. North Carolina, we got close, Louisiana, we got very close. So there’s a lot of promising ones near on the horizon.
Philip Blumel: Right, we actually got through a couple of chambers too. I mean we actually got a vote in what? Georgia senate, right? Gave us a vote.
Scott Tillman: Yeah, so we’ve got three states that we’ve already passed legislation in, and now we just need to come back and complete the other chamber, and those would be Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And that’s really promising. When we’re rolling in to January, getting ready to go and start a new year, essentially, you got one of the hurdles down, you gotta get through two hurdles to get through the state, we’ve already got it pre-introduced in a lot of these places. It makes a huge difference.
Philip Blumel: Sure, that is big news. In fact, I was gonna call them near misses, but they’re not misses yet. We just only got half the job done. Some other interesting things that happened this year, one thing that struck me that is highly unusual, but definitely shows the interest in the subject globally is that Pope Francis, the Bishop of Rome, of the Catholic Church, mandated 10-year term limits on about 100 lay organizations across the globe, that operate within the Catholic Church. He made the same points we make, he said that when these organizations became mature, that they were relying too much on, say the original founder and became sort of a cult of personality. And also, the people on these boards, when they’re there forever, they just lose energy. And so to revitalize them, to basically get them… You know, put a fire under them, the Pope said that they’ve gotta rotate, and what… Gee, that’s the same thing we talk about when we talk about the US Congress. What else happened this year, Scott, worth mentioning?
Scott Tillman: Oh, well, there was a lawsuit in the State of Michigan, we actually had our state term limits challenged by a group of former legislators. There was 10 former legislators, and most of them had gone on to be lobbyists, and they decided they still hated Michigan’s term limits, which politicians do. And they were gonna come after it in federal court. And this had been challenged in Federal Court back in the ’90s, and the challenge had gone down and they didn’t really bring up anything new, and the court took them to task and said, “Look… ” There’s a great quote where the judge says, “More than 20 years ago, the people of Michigan chose a citizen legislator and not a professional one, and now legislators with years of experience seek to use the federal courts to get around the state’s sovereign choice,” and they said it’s not the judge’s place or the court’s place to intervene on their behalf.” If they wanna change the law, they have to go back to the ballot box like anybody else, and they know that they can’t win at the ballot box, which is why they try to sneak around and do it through the courts.
Philip Blumel: That’s gonna be particularly gratifying for you, because you live in Michigan, don’t you?
Scott Tillman: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I was very excited to see that. They’re always coming after us someway, so it’s nice to be able to slap them down again.
Philip Blumel: Oh, I know what a big one this year was. In fact, there’s two, and I guess they’re somewhat related or relatable anyways, and that is that Speaker of the House in Illinois, Michael Madigan, the longest-serving House speaker in US history, in any state, after 37 years, resigned. And he resigned as a result of corruption, and then… He’s a Democrat, as you know, and then the same year, over in Ohio legislature, House speaker Larry Householder, a Republican, busted for corruption and had to resign as well.
Scott Tillman: Well, and these are two great examples of institutional knowledge, okay? One of the most often things we hear from legislators is, “Oh my goodness, you’re gonna lose all this institutional knowledge of people who… ” But these two speakers were using their institutional knowledge to line their pockets, and what they were doing was… In both cases, the scandals that arose were they were teaming up with essentially monopoly electric companies in their states to take a little bit from every rate payer and increase those rates, and then those companies, were finding ways to make it pay for those two politicians. And because they’re the speakers and because of their involvement, they’re able to steal a little bit essentially from every taxpayer and every… Not even all the taxpayers, from everybody in the state, even the people who are not taxpayers, anybody who pays for electricity in that state. And this is the reason why we need term limits, because the longer somebody is in office, they do get institutional knowledge and they use that institutional knowledge to game the system and line their own pockets. It’s a crony capital…
Philip Blumel: Right. They use it against us. Certainly, yeah. No, that’s right. And those are excellent examples. They’re pretty common examples actually, maybe not because their stature is higher than usual, but all throughout the year, we had many segments in our podcast of individual cases of corruption by people that oppose term limits, almost always is the case. Actually, I should say always is the case. And so yeah, these are two more examples. Larry Householder was such an opponent that he was actually working on a campaign to overturn Ohio’s term limits as this corruption was going on. And it’s actually tied to it. Some of the money that he was accepting from these utility was ending up in the campaign to undo Ohio’s term limits. So, another great example of how power can be abused and why term limits are so necessary. What else we got?
Scott Tillman: We also started a new program this year at US term limits, where we now have state chairs in different states that are helping us with the process in their states. And we have some really superstar state chairs that have signed up in Tennessee. Glenn Jacobs, formerly a professional wrestler… May be still a professional wrestler, I’m not 100% on that. He is now the Mayor of Knox County, and he is in a term limited position himself as the Mayor, and has come out strong on the issue of term limits and has been a great advocate, and we also have Dr. Cowan in Georgia, and several other all over the country who are doing a great job with this, and we’re expanding that program, and these are people who understand the problem with Congress and want to advocate for term limits and take a leadership position in their states.
Philip Blumel: And this is the first year that we’ve really worked on this. I’m looking at this list and it’s really impressive, ’cause these people don’t just understand the situation, they are important in their own right. They’ve been very successful in either politics or in business or in other ways. I noticed that Sara Hart Weir in Kansas. Well, she was the former President and CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society, for instance, and she’s taken this on as a new cause. We have people that, as you mentioned, Dr. Cowan in Georgia, he’s a well-known neurosurgeon. You just go down the list, and this is an impressive list of movers and shakers in these states.
Scott Tillman: Often times, people say statesman, and they refer to politicians, people who get elected to office and then go do things. But here, you have community leaders who are successful outside of government and they understand the changes that are needed, or at least term limits is needed, and other changes that are needed, and that the old career politicians and the old system where people sit there for 20 years and 15 years before they get any position to actually make decisions, is failing us. And these are people who are taking it upon themselves in their personal life, to volunteer to do this and to be advocates for this, as well as the other projects that they’ve done on their own time, and they’re all successful in their life outside of politics and they’re taking the step to help further this worthwhile cause.
Philip Blumel: I think that’s a really good point. People talk about public service, and really, when you’re elected, you’re in power. I don’t know if that’s really public service. When you are volunteering your time to work on a board for a private charity or something, or to work on a cause like this, you’re not in power, you’re actually serving. You’re not being paid to do it. To me, that’s real service, and not seeking of power. One thing we should have mentioned probably right after West Virginia, our top story, is what’s going on in Congress, because our real measurable is how many states we get to call for the term limits convention. But number two on our list of strategies is the one that we have going in the Congress where we try to get as many candidates and incumbents in Congress to sign a pledge, promising to co-sponsor and vote for a term limits amendment in Congress. And I know we’ve had a record year in getting that kind of support, and I know that you have the details on that.
Scott Tillman: We really have. So this year, as people know, there’s 435 members in the US House, 100 members in the Senate, so you have 535 members. We currently have 94 pledged members in Congress. That’s over 17% of Congress has now pledged to support term limits, and that number is going up every year. And occasionally, we have to do some whip cracking to remind Congressmen and women that they have pledged to their constituents that they were going to support the term limits amendment.
Philip Blumel: But even though we do have to remind them, correct me if I’m wrong, but most everyone that will sign a pledge, they’ll put pen to paper and commit to this, does, although we might have to knock on the door to remind them, but they do come out and end up co-sponsoring the bills, right?
Scott Tillman: That is correct. And this year, I know I said that we have 94 who are in Congress currently, we have over 280 new candidates running for Congress’ next cycle who have signed the pledge already. And that number is going to go up very quickly here now that redistricting is getting finalized in different states, and people will be jumping into the races here in the next two months.
S?: This is a public service announcement.
Philip Blumel: After a contentious back and forth with Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan on our show in December, a frustrated Fox Business anchor, Maria Bartiromo took a parting shot at the congresswoman worth re-visiting.
Maria Bartiromo: Let me ask you, congresswoman, do you believe in term limits?
Debbie Dingell: No, I don’t, because I think term limits limits people’s ability to…
Maria Bartiromo: Why? Why should somebody be in the senate for 40 years, they forget who they’re working for, why should somebody be in the… Look at the leadership team that America has, everybody’s above 80.
Debbie Dingell: So the American people need to look at that, and it’s called… Term limits is called the election that we have. Well, in the House, it’s every two years, and everybody says, “Don’t you wanna have longer terms?” No, because it makes you accountable to the people that you represent. And you know me, I’m… I’m just…
Maria Bartiromo: I’d love to see term limits, a reminder of what everybody’s working for, congresswoman.
Philip Blumel: Let’s talk a little bit about 2022. We have a new year beginning, you mentioned we already have been pre-filed in some states, so we’re already into the 2022 sessions with some whiff of success here. What do we expect from this year? Are we gonna get another state, and if so, which states do you think are on the short list of becoming the next to call for a term limits convention?
Scott Tillman: Well, I’ll ask you for your favorite, and I’ll tell you mine. We’re pre-filed right now in Indiana, Arizona, Kentucky, and Idaho. Now, you might wanna pick from that list or you might wanna pick a different one, Phil, but which one do you think would be your top bet?
Philip Blumel: I gotta say that West Virginia was something else, and I know that one of the ring leaders of the success in West Virginia was Aaron Dukette, one of the US term limits folks that just was tireless in contacting legislators, keeping this alive in West Virginia and really got the job done. And Aaron Dukette’s working on Indiana, he’s working on Kentucky, two of the states where we’re pre-filed, and so I’ve gotta say that I’m leaning towards those.
Scott Tillman: I think that our next one though, I’m gonna pick Arizona. A lot of ground work in Arizona for a lot of years now, and we’ve got some Democrats that are pledged there that are co-sponsors, we got some Republicans that are pledged there that are co-sponsors. That’s a place where a good bipartisan piece of legislation could really help a lot of people in leadership on both sides of the aisle, as well as in both chambers, I think it’s really teed up. I think it’s the right situation, and I think that we have Ron Hooper out there, and I think that Arizona is right there, ready to go, and I hope that we can see it move quickly. A lot of times in Arizona, they’re a legislature that adjourns for most of the year, they’re not full-time, and it’s very easy for other things to become distractions for the legislature that they have to deal with a budget or teacher’s contracts or other funding issues, but I think this year, things are teed up and everything’s lined up, the planets are aligned. I’m thinking it’s gonna be Arizona.
Philip Blumel: Okay, I know we got through several committees there last year, so we had made some solid progress in the State, although we didn’t actually get a vote or we didn’t get a successful vote there. Alright, Arizona.
Scott Tillman: And by the way, if you’re listening to this podcast and you wanna get involved with helping us, we can use all the help we can get, calling and contacting legislators. If you reach out on our Facebook page, just put term limits in on Facebook, you’ll come to one of our state pages, or our national page, send a message on Facebook or go to our website, termlimits.com, and there’s a little way to message right through that, it’ll pop up in your browser. But we can use the help, we’ve got a lot of candidates to reach out to, we’ve got good contact information for candidates, and we can use your help.
Philip Blumel: Alright, well, it’s gonna be a good year. Yeah, we’re gonna get another state in 2022, at least one, and maybe we’ll get all three of the ones we mentioned.
Scott Tillman: There was some fun stories that had to do deal with term limits, was there one that stuck out to you at all this year, maybe the funnest story for term limits in 2021?
Philip Blumel: Well, I mentioned the Pope, I thought that was a fun one, but there’s another, yeah, you know what? [chuckle] One that I thought was fun was, every once in a while, we get a legislator who will sign the pledge and allow us to send out press releases on their behalf and not on behalf of their candidacy in general, but on behalf of this action they’ve taken, and they’ll bask in the voters’ approval, and then they get into office and they don’t fulfill the pledge, right? They’re supposed to… They signed a pledge, they get in their office, they’re supposed to sign on… They co-sponsor and vote for term limits convention resolution, and at the national level, onto the congressional term limits amendment bill. Every once in a while, they don’t, and we’ve used different methods to try to put some fire underneath them. We’ve started putting up billboards, and one thing we found out is that politicians hate it when you put up billboards that say something like, “So and so broke his term limits pledge.”
Philip Blumel: We did it more than once, right? The one that stands out to me that I recall is in Georgia, Drew Ferguson, in Newnan, Georgia, we put up a big billboard that basically accused him of… Accused him, hell, it reported on the fact that he broke his pledge. Oh, my word! And it’s right by his office, so he has to drive by it every day. [chuckle] Now, I don’t know how many people notice it driving by, but I know one person who does, Drew Ferguson.
Scott Tillman: And then Mr. Ferguson decided he was gonna honor his pledge and co-sponsor like he had told his supporters that he would.
Philip Blumel: It’s sad it took that, but you know what? Once it’s all over, he did what he said he was gonna do, and now we’re all happy, right?
Scott Tillman: That’s right, we are. And the voters are happy too.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The term limits convention bills are moving through the state legislatures. This could be a breakthrough year for the Term Limits movement. To check on the status of the Term Limits Convention Resolution in your state, go to termlimits.com/takeaction. There, you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote. If there’s action to take, you’ll see a Take Action button by your state, click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators, urging them to support the legislation. They have to know you’re watching. That’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the term limits convention resolution or the bill has not been introduced in your state, you can still help. Please consider making a contribution to US term limits. It is our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress, and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate. Termlimits.com/donate. Thanks, we’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: Contact your state lawmakers before they vote on term limits for Congress. Go to termlimits.com/takeaction.