Philip Blumel: The North Carolina House passes the Term Limits Convention. Boom. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits Movement for the week of March 13th, 2023.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from Partisan Politics.
Philip Blumel: Last Wednesday, in a bipartisan vote, the North Carolina House passed speaker Tim Moore’s resolution, calling for a Term Limits convention. If the North Carolina Senate follows suit in the next couple of weeks, North Carolina will be the sixth state to officially apply for an amendment proposing convention of the States, limited to the subject of congressional term limits. If 34 states make this call, such a convention shall be called, under Article 5 of the US Constitution. Speaker Moore really did a good job. He was not only the sponsor himself, but he also led the charge in the media, pitching the idea to the public. And in the end, a handful of Democrats, notably Representatives Chatham, Pierce, Willingham and Ray, joined the Republican speaker in the 69-48 vote.
Philip Blumel: We’ve been here before. The term limits convention passed the North Carolina House a few years ago, and then died in the Senate. But the term limits convention passed the House this time by a bigger margin, and the activists on the ground tell us the Senate prospects also look a lot better this time too. It’s worth noting that Term Limits convention resolutions also passed important committees in Oklahoma and in Tennessee this week. We’re on the move. Friends, this is the only way we are going to get Term Limits on the US Congress. More and more states have to make this call.
Philip Blumel: Now, we don’t necessarily need all 34 states. When we start getting close to that number, history suggests that Congress might feel forced to act and prevent the convention. That’s fine with us. And for this reason, we’ve gotta keep the pressure on Congress too. At a meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, last week, US Term Limits Executive Director Nick Tomboulides and I, met with the sponsor of the US Term Limits amendment in the US House. That’s Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina. Now, Representative Norman has been in close touch with House Speaker McCarthy, and is confident that the vote that McCarthy promised on the US Term Limits amendment, that is HJR 11, will occur this session, and may even be imminent. Importantly, Representative Norman is now on the House Rules Committee, and this might be crucial for us to get a clean vote. Keep in mind that the House Rules Committee is responsible for deciding which measures are brought before the House of Representatives for a vote, and the rules that govern their consideration. The committee’s jurisdiction also includes, what they call, special rules that determine the terms and conditions of debate for a particular issue.
Philip Blumel: Naturally, we’re looking for a clean up or down vote on HJR 11 without amendments. After all, many of these politicians will be wanting to vote yes on a term limits bill so they can brag to their constituents back home. But in other hand, they don’t wanna vote for a term limits bill to actually pass that could actually impose term limits. [chuckle] Yeah. Representative Norman is the right man in the right position to prevent that from happening. With 82 sponsors behind him. Yes, that’s right, we got 5 more co-sponsors just this last week, since the last podcast, Representative Norman is really leading the charge.
Philip Blumel: But it needs our help. Please go to termlimits.com/takeaction. The very first action on the list is for the Federal US Term Limits amendment, that’s HJR 11 in the house, and HJR 2 in the Senate, and it gives you an opportunity to send messages to your Congressmen, letting them know the vote’s coming up and telling them to vote, “Yes.” Please do this now. The vote may be imminent and they need to hear from you.
Speaker 3: This is a public service announcement.[music]
Philip Blumel: Here we go again. First, the disclaimer. No, neither I nor US Term Limits is endorsing Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida for President. We are a scrupulously non-partisan organization, that knows full well that no single political party is gonna pass a term limits amendment; it’s going to require both. But, nearly every time I do an internet search for public figures advocating term limits, DeSantis is, he’s top of the search results. So, here’s another really good one. This is from January 23rd, as captured by Forbes breaking news.
Ron DeSantis: We also are looking at school boards for reforms. We did do the 12-year School board term limits; I think it should be 8-year term limits. I mean the fact of the matter is you get in there, you have ideas, 8 years is enough to get your ideas in and to see some of the successes or maybe things you may need to change. Some of the people that are there, when you get in there for 20 years, you become entrenched. And so I’m a big believer in term limits across the board. I think we need it for Congress. I think we need it in a lot of different areas. I think our legislature works better because we have term limits. But the 12 years, better than nothing, but I think we can do better. So we’re gonna end up doing 8-year term limits for that.
Philip Blumel: We have run a couple of corruption segments on this podcast about how the ex-Speaker of the Ohio House, Larry Householder, essentially took bribes from a giant utility in his state to assist in passing favorable legislation. This was going on at the same time a shadowy effort to overturn Ohio’s voter-approved term limits were underway. We accused Householder of being the prime mover behind the effort, but the testimony from the Householder corruption trial is revealing that the tie between the corruption and the anti-term limits efforts was a lot tighter than we knew. It’s a complicated case, and truthfully, it’s really hard to summarize. So forgive me if I let Jake Zuckerman and Andrew Tobias of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, tell the story. These are the most relevant portions of their February 21st expose.
Philip Blumel: Dateline, Columbus, Ohio, February 21. Before his stunning political downfall, Larry Householder was moving in secret to execute a complex plan to help him avoid term limits and remain the Ohio House Speaker well into the 2030s. However, a global pandemic and a sweeping FBI investigation scuttled the campaign, which new information revealed as part of Householders ongoing corruption trial, shows was much more carefully orchestrated than was previously known. FirstEnergy Corp, which has admitted to bribing Householder along with a powerful state regulator, transferred $2 million in March of 2020 to an account that prosecutors say Householder controlled. This occurred as Householder and company officials discussed the Term Limits campaign, according to evidence and testimony from trial.
Philip Blumel: That payment came after FirstEnergy spent $94 million, successfully lobbying for House Bill 6, a 2019 law that Householder championed, that provided the company subsidiary a $1.3 billion bailout for its uneconomic nuclear plant through 2027. Prosecutors say, much of FirstEnergy’s political spending propelled Householder into immense political power, while providing him $514,000 of personal benefits, like paying down his credit card bills and legal debt. One lobbyist who pleaded guilty to racketeering, testified that FirstEnergy subsidiary, his employer, agreed to back the term limits effort in exchange for future legislation growing the size and duration of the bailout.
Philip Blumel: In February 2020, a mysterious group emerged calling itself, “Ohioans For Term Limits”, proposing the first change to Ohio’s term limits laws since the 1990s. The group’s proposal ostensibly strengthened term limits by setting a lifetime, 16-year cap for lawmakers, compared to the current law that allows them to serve unlimited years, but not more than 8 consecutive years in either the House or Senate. But trial evidence and testimony indicate that Householder and his allies hatched the plan so that he could evade Term Limits, which otherwise would have forced him to leave the house in 2024. The new rules would have reset every legislator’s service years at zero, allowing Householder to remain in office through 2036. Householder said at the time, he was unfamiliar with the proposals, that details, and he suggested that he just opposed term limits in principle. In actuality, the evidence suggests Householder and his allies were actively discussing the initiative, and fundraising for the campaign, and had been for months.
Philip Blumel: Wow. Well, let’s give Zuckerman and Tobias a rest here, and talk about this a bit. All of this was going on behind the scenes. We wouldn’t even know about it if it wasn’t for this corruption trial, and all of these meetings and wire-tapped phone calls by the FBI, etcetera, had not come to light. Now fortunately, the campaign, despite all of the funding it got from all these corrupt sources, never really got going because of the pandemic. And so the petition campaign, sort of, collapsed. But we only know about this because of the trial, again. This story really shows, once again, the lengths that corrupt politicians will go to avoid term limits. And the sad truth is, that Householder isn’t really an outlier. There are corrupt politicians scheming to overturn term limits in every state where citizens have enacted them. Consider the current case of North Dakota. Let’s let Holly Robichaud tell the story of North Dakota from her latest episode of Breaking News on Term Limits, available at youtube.com/ustermlimits.
Holly Robichaud: We have trouble brewing in North Dakota. Last November, voters overwhelmingly supported placing term limits on their legislative leaders. The legislators aren’t liking this and they’re trying to overturn it. They have filed the House Concurrent Resolution 3019, in an attempt to overturn the will of the voters. Now this week, March 8, there’s gonna be a vote coming up. It will be heard in front of the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee, at the state capital, at 8 am, in room 327C. Please, come out, show your support that you favor term limits, and that the will of the voters should not be overturned.
Philip Blumel: Next, from the belt and suspenders department. As you know, US Term Limits is encouraging states to approve applications for a term limits convention, a convention to propose amendments authorized by Article 5 of the US Constitution. When 34 states apply, a convention shall be called. States will send delegates with instructions from the state legislatures that commissioned them. At the convention, an amendment can be hammered out. And if the majority of the convention approves an amendment, it has no legal effect, until ratified by three-quarters of the states, so that’s 38 states, before it gets added to the Constitution.
Philip Blumel: Well, that’s quite a hurdle. The Founders made it difficult to amend the Constitution for a good reason. They want to protect it from fads, and whims, and demagogues. Now, watching the Term Limits convention movement gain steam, 13 states have taken additional safety measure. Just to ensure that the delegates sent to an Article Five convention don’t misbehave, the 13 states have passed legislation, often called, “The Faithful Commissioners Acts”. Technically, delegates to an Article 5 Convention are called Commissioners because they have been commissioned to act as a representative of their states for a specific purpose. Now traditionally, misbehaving delegates can simply be recalled from the convention on the state’s discretion. And that’s been done many times over American history. But the Faithful Commissioners Acts, go further. They actually set legal penalties for Commissioners who act outside of their commissions.
Philip Blumel: These states are Indiana, Tennessee, Utah, Georgia, Florida, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Arizona. Are these Faithful Commissioner Acts necessary? I don’t know, there’s no historical or logical reason to think so, really. But if it helps tap down the fear-mongering that opponents to the term limits convention spread, well, so be it. In any case, I commend the state legislators around the country that are gearing up for an Article 5 convention. These legislators in these 13 states see it coming. Well, I can’t wait to see what Congress does when they finally do.[music]
Stacey Selleck: Like the show? You can help by subscribing and leaving a 5-star review on both Apple and Spotify. It’s free.
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 are watching. That’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the term limits convention resolution, or the bill’s 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: Find us on most social media @USTermlimits. Like us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Instagram and now, TikTok.[music]
Speaker 6: USTL.