Nick Tomboulides: Hello, everyone, and welcome to No Uncertain Terms. This is Nick Tomboulides. After a brief unscheduled layover in covid land, I am back on the beat today and I am excited to talk about Term Limits because we have got a lot of action going on in the States. With the New Year comes new opportunities, and we are pushing harder than ever before, we are being filed in more States than ever before for the Term Limits Convention, and I think we’re going to have a historic year, the fun is just beginning, so we’re gonna dive into it on today’s podcast. As I said, Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone. There’s not much that I can add about Martin Luther King Junior that hasn’t already been probably said more eloquently by someone else, but I will note that he was probably the greatest activist of all time, and he knew how to bring people together, and he knew how to unify people around a common goal, and that is what I find most inspiring about him, so… Thank you, Dr. King.
Nick Tomboulides: We’ve got a lot to unpack today, some updates, big updates coming through in a lot of different States, as you know, our goal is to pass a constitutional amendment for Term Limits on Congress, and we are doing it through the Term Limits Convention process and to get there, you need 34 State legislatures, those politicians who work in your State Capitol, you need 34 of those legislatures to pass bills calling for Congressional Term Limits Convention. With the New Year, new States are filing these bills every day, South Dakota is one State where the bill has been filed, and we are seeing more progress there than we have ever seen in recent memory.
Nick Tomboulides: The bill in South Dakota is S-J-R-501, and it was filed by Senator Erin Tobin, and we’ve gotten word that that bill will be heard in the Senate state affairs committee this week. It will be either Wednesday, January 19th or Friday, January 21st. Which is very exciting news, South Dakota, as it so happens, has a very rich history with Term Limits, they were actually the first State ever in American history to call for a Term Limits Convention, and they did it way back in 1989, and they did it on their own. That’s amazing because that is before US Term Limits was even founded, that is before there was any kind of organized effort for Congressional Term Limits, so South Dakota was way ahead of its time in embracing this. Unfortunately, that resolution was repealed in 2010, so we still need to be in South Dakota and we still need to get the Term Limits Convention done this time around, but the history is fascinating. South Dakota voters have already had two statewide pro-Term Limits votes, one passed by 27 points, and the other one passed by 35 points. It was back in 1992 and 2006.
Nick Tomboulides: In 1992, they enacted Term Limits for State legislators and for Congress, of course, the Congressional part was thrown out in court by those crooked activist judges in Washington, but the South Dakota voters, they reaffirmed their support for Congressional Term Limits in 1996, and that year they passed a law to publicize where politicians stood on Term Limits for Congress, so there is quite the history in South Dakota and there is just incontrovertible evidence that the people of South Dakota love Term Limits. One of the senators from South Dakota is John Thune. And there’s been a lot of discussion about John Thune. I remember when I was a kid, I saw on TV that he beat Tom Daschle. He beat one of the most powerful senators, but that was a long time ago. That was like 2004. John Thune is now running for his fourth term, and it’s important to realize that Term Limits, Congressional Term Limits, it’s not really aimed at anyone specifically, it’s not aimed at John Thune, and when Term Limits are enacted, it’s not gonna be retroactive, which means it’s not going to count the terms that he’s already served, and it’s not going to affect John Thune.
Nick Tomboulides: It’s kinda hard to wrap your head around this concept sometimes, but I had a letter in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago about how Bob Dole supported Term Limits, he was in the Senate for decades, but he still supported Term Limits, and he was playing by the rules of the game. The rule of the game right now is seniority, John Thune is playing by the rule of the game, he’s doing what he thinks is best for his State, and he’s probably right, because right now, unfortunately, you do need seniority to get things done in Washington. Good luck getting stuff passed as a freshman, so it’s disappointing, but it’s true, it’s the reality. That’s how Washington works right now. And so you can’t really hold that against somebody like Thune, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to change the system. And this is what Bob Dole understood, because even though seniority is the stock and trade of politicians right now, it doesn’t have to be… We can create a better system. It’s a very principle view, I think for State legislators in South Dakota, for example, to say, “Look, I like my senator, even though he’s been there for three or four terms, I think he’s done a good job, but I also like Term Limits.”
Nick Tomboulides: Those two things are not inconsistent at all, and that was one lesson that Bob Dole taught us, and so going into this committee hearing, it’s gonna be either Wednesday or Friday, we’re very encouraged by the results that we’ve seen, and it should be a close vote. It should be a very competitive committee hearing, so we will be keeping tabs on that and we will of course provide you all with an update as to the result of that committee hearing on our next podcast.
Philip Blumel: This episode of profiles and corruption focuses on a stalwart enemy of Term Limits whose political corruption has been chronicled in past episodes of the No Uncertain Terms podcast, but new allegations of sexual sleeves and perhaps even assaults are throwing further light on the character of Lee Chatfield, speaker of the Michigan State House from 2018 to 2020. Michigan State Police and a Lansing Police Department are investigating claims that speaker Chatfield sexually assaulted his former student and current sister-in-law Rebecca Chatfield for over a decade. The sexual assaults allegedly began when she was a 15 or a 16-year-old student at Northern Michigan Christian Academy, where Lee Chatfield was a teacher and soccer coach, and continued through his political career and his speakership ending only in 2021 when she decided to go to the police at age 26. In her criminal complaint, Rebecca alleges at least one of the sexual assaults occurred in Lee’s Capitol office. In Michigan, the age of sexual consent is 16, but Michigan law makes it a crime for a teacher to have sex with a student under age 18. In his… I guess you could call it a defense, Lee Chatfield’s lawyer said that the affairs were strictly consensual, they occurred when Rebecca and Lee were both adults, and besides Chatfield had multiple extra-marital affairs during the same period.
Philip Blumel: Yes, Speaker Chatfield was and is married. Lee’s younger brother Aaron Chatfield, who Rebecca married when she was 19, says he was unaware of any sexual relationship between his wife and his brother consensual or otherwise, but Aaron says he had suspicions, he knew his brother, both Aaron and another Chatfield brother Paul, had secured jobs at the Capitol while his brother was climbing the political ladder, they resigned as Lee took the speakership to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, but Aaron stayed in town and took a job for Grand River Strategies, a political consulting firm, contracted to help run the House Republican campaign committee, but his real responsibility was to act as a personal driver for his brother Lee.
Philip Blumel: Aaron says, Speaker Chatfield would request rides at all times of the night. Aaron told the Michigan-based Bridge publication that the duo made regular trips to meet up with women in Ritz Birmingham, frequented the legends strip club in Detroit and would stay an expensive places like Detroit Shinola Hotel. It’s probably worth noting that Lee paid Aaron nearly $20,000 for his periodic work with his political committees as well. During this same period as Lee Chatfield was Speaker of the Michigan House in between his alleged rapes and or liaisons, he launched an effort to weaken the legislative Term Limits law approved by voters by 59% in 1992, polling in 2019, showed that the popularity of Term Limits had only grown over time with 69% in support today. No matter…
Philip Blumel: He teamed up with the Senate Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey, and was floating ideas and organizing other political players and groups in town to undermine the popular law. Simultaneously, a group of lobbyists, mostly former legislators, filed suit against the Term Limits law in court. Coincidence? Sure, [chuckle] alarmed, citizens assembled and brought the scheme to the public’s attention, a group called Don’t Touch Term Limits appeared and started driving an 18-foot pink-pig statue from city to city across the State to raise awareness. And there was an outcry. In the end, the politicians relented, the lawsuit failed spectacularly, and speaker Lee Chatfield was term limited out of office on schedule, all of his growing power and his growing hubris had met its match, but if it wasn’t for the Term Limits law, he’d still be there.
Nick Tomboulides: Moving on to Indiana. In Indiana, the Term Limits Convention has been filed as House Strength Resolution Two and it has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the House. This movement is spreading like wildfire in Indiana, we have seen 13 incumbent Indiana State legislators sign the US Term Limits Convention pledge in just the last couple of weeks. That might be some kind of record for most pledges in the shortest amount of time, I don’t know, so that will bring the total number of pledge signers in Indiana to 29 in the House and 10 in the Senate. It’s very good numbers in Indiana our sponsors are Chris Jeter in the House and Travis Holdman in the Senate, we are waiting for a committee hearing date, but stay tuned because we should have that soon and we expect the Term Limits Convention to be moving forward in Indiana. In Georgia, the State Senate has passed the Term Limits Convention every session that includes this session, State Senate has already done its job, but it’s the State House that we’re waiting on, the lower chamber, and most of the time, they won’t do anything with this. They usually don’t hold hearings on it, but for the first time ever, the Term Limits Convention is getting a hearing in the Georgia House, it will be held on January 25th, it will be held and it will be heard in front of the Rules Committee of the House.
Nick Tomboulides: So Georgia, it looks like it’s beginning to open up, from a political standpoint, think about this for a second, Georgia has become a very purple State in recent years, they have a Republican governor, but they also have two Democratic senators, and one year ago, they had two Republican senators. So it is a pendulum, and right now, the GOP controls both the State House and the State Senate and the governorship. So with the balance of power possibly shifting, what better way would there be for Republicans to earn support this year than by doing something on the most popular issue in the world… Term Limits. Yes, I said the world, not just the United States, the world, Term Limits is the most popular issue in the world, people are fighting for it in Central America, in Africa, in Asia, in Europe, Term Limits is everywhere, and Congressional Term Limits is in the Republican party platform. So this can be a rallying cry for Georgia Republicans this year. Hey, look what we did. We fought back against the Washington machine. It’s good politics. And it’s good policy. So that hearing is on the 25th, and I’m not gonna sugar-coat this.
Nick Tomboulides: It’s probably going to be hotly debated, the opponents, the people who don’t like Term Limits and can admit it, as opposed to the people who don’t like Term Limits, but pretend they don’t like the convention, they’re going to be outspoken and we need to fight fire with fire, this is going to be a close vote in that Rules Committee. We cannot take it for granted. If you live in any of the States that I mentioned, go to termlimits.com/take action, even if you don’t live in any of the States that I mentioned, you might live in another State where the bill has been filed or it’s likely to be filed soon. And we’re getting filed in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, coming soon, Idaho, Arizona, Kansas. I saw like how we’re listing all these States, nobody gets that reference, but go to termlimits.com/take action, there we have very simple email calls to action, you just click the take action button, and if you live in one of the States that I’ve mentioned, you can send an email to your State reps and your State senators encouraging them to get this done.
Nick Tomboulides: So as always, thank you for your support.
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/take action, 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/take action. 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.