Nick Tomboulides: Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits Movement, for the week of June 6th, 2022. I’m Nick Tomboulides.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Nick Tomboulides: One of the most corrupt and anti-democratic schemes ever is moving forward in Michigan. The mainstream media are barely covering the story. This week, I sit down with US Term Limits’ own Scott Tillman to discuss the Michigan term limits scam.
Nick Tomboulides: Okay, we have an update on the Michigan term limits situation. As you know, Michigan Legislature, it has some of the best term limits in the country, a six year lifetime limit in the State House and an eight year lifetime limit in the Senate. And everybody in Michigan loves these term limits except for the political class, except for the politicians, lobbyists and power brokers who live inside the Lansing echo chamber around the capital. And for years and years and years, this rogue’s gallery of insiders has been threatening to take away term limits or lengthen term limits to let the politicians keep power longer. But they have failed each and every time. And they fail because they legally can’t do it without getting the people of Michigan to approve the change. And why the hell would the voting public in Michigan ever want to demolish term limits? It won’t happen. It can’t happen unless you trick the voting public. And that’s what’s happening here.
Nick Tomboulides: So initially, this fat cat appreciation society, all these insiders, the Detroit Mayor, chamber president, former Speaker of the House, Jase Bolger, they said they were going to collect half a million signatures to put their scam anti-term limit amendment on the ballot, their amendment would lie to the voters, it would tell voters term limits were getting reduced or shortened, when in reality, it would double term limits, it would double career politicians, would make Lansing look like Washington DC. This was cooked up in a lab somewhere by some kind of political mad scientist, somebody totally drunk on power, who thought up this con job to trick the voters. But when this group looked out on the horizon, they saw the citizens were rallying against them, they realized it would not be possible to collect the half a million signatures in time to qualify for the November ballot. So they called in a favor from their friends in the state legislature. I have Scott Tillman here, Scott works for US Term Limits. You all know him. He’s also a Michigan resident, and he leads The Term Limits Defense Fund in Michigan. Scott, tell us what happened on May 10th. How did all this go down?
Scott Tillman: Well, in Lansing, normally, you know, things get passed after having some public discussion, at least, a hearing or something like that. But in this case, the legislature came in bright and early on the morning of May 10th, with no public notice whatsoever, and suspended the rules to call a vote on this issue. When I say suspended the rules, normally, they’re supposed to have readings, they’re supposed to read the bill on the floor of the legislature publicly before they publicly being there in the legislature, not like anybody’s there watching. But read it and then have a vote on it. They suspended the rules, said the bill number, suspended the rules and said we’re going to do first reading. Second Reading third reading. That was it, they didn’t read anything. They just said that. And we’re gonna have a vote, any discussion they didn’t take any discussion, any debate, they didn’t take any debate and put the board open for the votes and held it open until they got the exact number they needed, and then closed it and pass this without even saying publicly what it was with having no hearings beforehand just straight to the floor. Everybody knew in the legislature about it but nobody in the public outside of that group had been given any notice or notification wasn’t even published on the state website until after the votes, the bill number or anything.
Scott Tillman: There was no bill number, no resolution number, nothing. And the same thing when it went up to the over to the Senate shortly later. And they actually at the Senate did say what it was, somewhat what it was about. There, of course, trying to try and transparency internals but they didn’t read the bill three times like they’re supposed to or anything like that. Put the board open, passed it. And then they immediately adjourned and took off on vacation to go away so that they wouldn’t have to answer any questions or anything about it. Very, very crooked.
Nick Tomboulides: That’s incredible. That’s incredible to me, that citizens and people had no opportunity to participate and come out and oppose or even support this bill. There was no debate, no democracy. I mean, this was like something you’d see out of the Kremlin or Kim Jong-un, this is how, they do political changes over there. They just jam it through with no public input at all, it’s just shocking that it was passed before it was even posted to the Michigan Senate website for the public to view. I mean, this isn’t like the Nancy Pelosi, we have to pass it to see what’s in it. This is the we won’t even post it on the website. So you can’t know what’s in it. Even if you wanted to know what was in this bill, you couldn’t know what was in this bill, because it was not posted on the website if you’re a citizen.
Scott Tillman: The resolution was not up at all, you looked under the people who were supposed to sponsor, other things like that. Nothing, nothing showing up at all until after the bill was already or the resolution in this case has already passed in the House and Senate.
Nick Tomboulides: And so much hypocrisy, too, because, we have bills in legislatures all the time. We have resolutions, and we have to play by the same rules as everybody else. It gets posted on the website, there are committee hearings. I don’t love it when people come out and speak against our bill. But that’s the democratic process. I mean, that’s that’s the Republic that we live in. People have the opportunity to be outspoken on issues. But this was just a completely closed system. They didn’t tolerate any public debate whatsoever.
Scott Tillman: No, but we do know that they had some friendly instructions, backroom smoke filled room. Let’s do this together with the chamber, with the big union groups in the state of Michigan, because those groups, they essentially took what those groups had proposed and passed it almost as was, they did water down the transparency portion, just to show how absolutely horrible it was. But they took it from those groups, and had no discussion with anyone who was a constituent, or with any public interest groups, they just put it right down on the floor, just as a number, passed it and sent it out.
Nick Tomboulides: Isn’t it wild, though, that they’ve branded this because they can’t be forthright with the public and admit that this is an anti-term limit bill. They can’t admit that if this amendment passes, it would double term limits from six years to 12 in the house, increase term limits by 50% in the Senate, so they have branded it as a pro transparency amendment. That’s the most ironic part is branded by this rogue’s gallery of crooks and lobbyists and politicians as pro transparency and yet the process they used to get it on the ballot was the least transparent thing we’ve ever seen. Was it not?
Scott Tillman: I’ve never seen a bill go like this went where there is no floor discussion, there’s no hearings, no public input. I’ve never been in any of the different state legislatures that I’ve seen stuff passed through in US Congress. I’ve never seen anything go like this.
Nick Tomboulides: It’s almost like they were ashamed of it. And they knew they were doing something wrong. [laughter] So in Michigan, you guys were in the spotlight two years ago. There was a lot of buzz about the 2020 election and election integrity. Big food fight Republicans and Democrats accusing each other of election fraud, passing new laws to allegedly make the elections more secure. Isn’t this amendment a form of election fraud? People are told they’re voting for one thing, term limits, supporting term limits, but their vote will actually count for the opposite. Their vote will destroy term limits. No one’s telling them that, isn’t that fraud?
Scott Tillman: Yes, it absolutely is. And it’s going to allow the same legislators that voted for this to stay longer in office and people should know that. That should be disclosed to the public. This is ridiculous. They have a clear conflict of interest. They’re voting to allow themselves to stay in office longer, and they’re doing it in a really shady, crooked way.
S?: This is a public announcement.
Philip Blumel: US rep. Byron Donalds is an African American congressman and businessman representing southwest Florida’s 19th District since 2021. His district includes Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and Naples. Donalds was an active supporter of term limits as a Florida State legislator. And as he explains here to Forbes online breaking news, he has brought his embrace of this popular form to the US Congress.
S?: Do you have a specific amount of time that you think you’re gonna remain in Congress or that you would like to be in Congress for?
Byron Donalds: Oh, man, you got, at most you got a decade out of me. Mostly you got 10 years and then I gotta move on. You know, I’m 43 serving 10 years I’ll be 52. 52, 53. Man, I want to go back and make money like I like money. Money is a cool thing. I want to go back to the private sector and make money or if you go higher than you go higher in the political apparatus, but I am not a congressional life, right. I’m do not see myself sitting in the halls of Congress for multiple decades, that’s just not me.
S?: So I’m guessing that you might be supportive of term limits for members of Congress.
Byron Donalds: Very supportive. I’m a product of term limits. I come from a state where you’re term limited in the state legislature. If there weren’t term limits in Florida, I don’t think I would have been afforded the ability to be elected. And I wasn’t afforded the ability to be elected at the state level, I highly doubt I wouldn’t be elected here at the federal level. I know that the people who argue against term limits would say that, well, all you do is empower staff or you empower lobbyists, or you lose some institutional knowledge. But I think the good far outweighs the bad. I think that what you get when you have term limits is you have members who are focused, much more focused on accomplishing what they can accomplish in the time period they’re here, because there is no tomorrow. In a state legislature, most state legislatures have a specific period of time that they meet, because most state legislators are actually terminated or term limited, excuse me. There’s a specific period of time they meet. So you got to get it done. In Congress, there are no deadlines. The only deadlines we deal with here our debt ceiling limits, and we have to fund the government. Those are the two big deadlines here. That’s not good enough for the American people.
Nick Tomboulides: Now, let me ask you about Michigan term limits in general, because the argument that these guys are going to make or that they have made is that Michigan term limits haven’t worked. But what they really mean is Michigan term limits haven’t worked from a cronieist, lobbyist perspective. If you are an influence peddler in Lansing, who wants to buy legislators, absolutely, Michigan term limits have not worked for you because now you can’t develop those long term relationships anymore. Now, you don’t have legislators in your pocket forever. But term limits were never enacted to please the political class, they were enacted for the people. And Michigan term limits, as far as I know, have absolutely worked for the people. You guys have the most competitive elections in the country. 100% of all Michigan State legislative elections, nearly every year are contested, no other state can make that claim. I mean, there’s some states with as few as like 25, 30% of their elections have real competition. You guys have competitive elections, you have turnover, you have fresh faces. What have you seen? What is your view on how well term limits have worked in Michigan?
Scott Tillman: Term limits in Michigan have worked fantastic. One thing that doesn’t often get brought up with term limits, but that people need to pay attention to is it puts more people in elected position in government, so you have more citizens participating in government. In the 30 years prior to term limits in Michigan, there were 551 unique people who served in the legislature. In the 30 year sense, there’s been 730 unique individuals that have served in the legislature, that’s over 25% more people having a voice in their government. And the differences that makes that even bigger is that before term limits, you have a few people who stayed in there for 30,32, 36 years. And more that were in there for 20 and other things. Those people essentially control everything. In the 30 year sense term limits, nobody’s been in there more than six years in the House, and eight years in the Senate. So the power has been dispersed around a lot greater number of people, more citizens in control. Instead of just having a few citizens in control, we’ve had many, many more citizens in control.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, and all these anti-term limit legislators who claim that the lack of experience has killed Michigan, let me ask you, when they run for re-election, do they put on their mail pieces that they’re inexperienced, and they don’t know what they’re doing and they’re they’re failing the state and filling their constituents? Or do they say, hey, you know, we fix the water, we fix the roads, we lowered your taxes, we reformed education, look at all these great things that we did. So they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth right here. I mean, either either you’re an inexperienced legislator who’s a failure, or you’ve done a good job, and you deserve to be reelected, but it can’t be both.
Scott Tillman: Well, that’s exactly it. When people get elected in a term limited place, you’ve got a finite amount of time to get done what you said that you are running to do. And if the other side, that your opposition is in control if you’re Republican, and it’s a Democrat, controlled legislator, or if you’re a Democrat, and it’s a Republican controlled legislature, you got to find a way to cross the aisle if you’re going to have a legacy. But if you’re not term limited, if you’re in a situation similar to what we have in Washington, DC, or the term limits are super long, then you don’t actually have to solve the problems. In fact, it’s more beneficial to you to fundraise on those problems than it is to solve those problems. Nobody’s solving the immigration problem because both sides can get their constituents excited about it and donating money to their campaign. There are big issues that don’t get solved if you don’t make an end date for when they’re in there. Now in Michigan, they know they got six years on the outside if they can keep winning an election for that long. And that’s what their legacy is going to be. But in other states, in Washington, DC, they can stay there forever. And they don’t have to solve problems. And in fact, they raise more money if the problems don’t get solved.
Nick Tomboulides: Exactly, because they keep campaigning on solving those problems. And they never have to do anything to displease the donors who keep them in office, they never have to show an ounce of political courage without term limits, as Ronald Reagan said, “The only experience you get in politics is how to be political.” Last question. You’re part of the Term Limits Defense Fund in Michigan, Patrick Anderson is also a member of that very respected economist. What does the Term Limits Defense Fund going to do to defend Michigan term limits?
Scott Tillman: Well, we need to get out and let people know we’re gonna have speakers going around the state, we’re going to be going to all kinds of meetings, a lot of grassroots, letting people know how this was brought to the ballot, how it was crooked. There was no transparency in the process. We’re going to be letting people know that this is going to let the legislators who was voted on it serve longer, we’re going to let the people know that legislators are going to be coming back would have been out, something that that was also not disclosed, and that this exempts political work, and government and political jobs from the disclosure requirement. It’s a joke. It’s an absolute joke. So we’re going to be going around getting the message out. Because when people know that, when people know the facts about this, then people understand that it needs to be voted down.
Nick Tomboulides: 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 bills not been introduced in your state, you can still help. Please consider making a contribution to US term limits. It’s 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: Find us on most social media at US Term Limits, like us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and now TikTok.