Philip Blumel: The term limits factor. Will term limits be an important issue in the 2024 presidential elections? Every day that appears more likely. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the term limits movement for the week of June 12th, 2023.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: The race for the Republican presidential nomination is getting crowded, crowded with term limits supporters. This week, four more candidates threw their hats into the ring. That would be former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the current North Dakota Governor, Doug Burgum, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, I guess that was a week prior, and former Vice President Mike Pence. Where do all these candidates stand? Well, let’s start with Chris Christie. Christie has been a vocal supporter of term limits for a long time. Back in 2012 when the issue of term limits for the state legislature of New Jersey was bubbling up, Christie was quite clear. He said, “I absolutely agree with term limits.” He spoke on the subject before a town hall in Piscataway that year, and he said, “I believe there should be term limits for everybody.” He was dismissive of the idea that term limits reduced valuable experience that couldn’t be replaced.
Philip Blumel: And instead he pointed to the real problem that too many legislative districts in the state are too safe for one party or the other, and that lawmakers in these safe districts can easily assume that they’ll be in office for a long time to come. And Christie pointed out to this group that term limits had been tested in New Jersey and nationally. Christie, of course, was a term limited Governor in New Jersey. He asked rhetorically, “Is the legislature really that valuable, more valuable than the President of the United States?” The press accounts report, he got a chuckle out of that one out of the audience. Now, when he was running for President a couple years later, this is 2015, he brought up term limits again on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program. He came out in support of congressional term limits. He said, “It’s time to get these guys the hell out of Washington. That’s why I’m for term limits, and I’ve been for term limits my entire career.”
Philip Blumel: And then he went on listing a bunch of broken promises from the current GOP leadership, including on term limits. So Christie, you know, like the American people, doesn’t see term limits as a left or right issue to him. He said it’s about removing corrupt career politicians in both parties and replacing them with citizen legislators. Now, as President, Christie or any of these other guys, they wouldn’t have any direct role in amending the Constitution to include term limits on Congress. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. The President has tremendous influence on what issues are front and center, and President could exert a lot of pressure on Congress, you know, to initiate the amendment. After all, the amendment is introduced in both houses of Congress right now. Of course he could also ask states to pass applications for the Article V Term Limits Convention. So I dig that rhetoric from Christie and it has been consistent.
Philip Blumel: But as a US Senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina has had an opportunity to take action on term limits and has done so. Senator Scott is a signer of the US Term Limits pledge to co-sponsor and vote for the US term limits amendment. And yes, he has jumped on the bill as a co-sponsor as he promised to do in the pledge. And when asked about congressional term limits, he has said that they are “absolutely essential.” You can’t doubt Senator Scott’s commitment to this issue. You know, US Term Limits does not ask politicians to limit themselves in office, but Senator Scott did so anyway. During his first term in office, he said that if he chose to run for a second that it would be his last term, and he said that was true because of his commitment to term limits. And of course, he’s holding true to that as now he is running for President of the United States.
Philip Blumel: Next up, we should consider North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. He also announced his candidacy for President of the United States last week. Unlike Christie, and unlike Tim Scott, Governor Burgum actually brought up term limits in his announcement about running for President. Let’s hear that.
Doug Burgum: And again, working with the legislature this past year, we achieved historic pension reform, helped pass term limits and enacted the biggest tax cut in state history.[applause]
Philip Blumel: Now, what he is referring to in that clip is the fact that North Dakota imposed eight-year term limits on its state legislature and governor in 2022. This was accomplished by a popular vote in favor of a citizens’ initiative, which passed easily. This was surely amongst the top successes of the term limits movement, and of course, North Dakota voters in 2022. Now, Governor Burgum made some positive sounds about the initiative early on, but was largely silent while this vote was going on, and also while the political establishment in Bismarck fought tooth and nail to get the initiative disqualified from the ballot and the state government even went after petition circulators. You know, we covered this battle in some detail on the podcast last year, so you can imagine that we were surprised to hear Governor Burgum bragging about this victory in his announcement speech. That’s okay, we’ll take it. We welcome aboard another supporter of term limits to the presidential race.
Philip Blumel: Last up, let’s talk about former Trump Vice President Mike Pence. To our knowledge, Mike Pence has never come out in favor of, nor in opposition to term limits. Frankly, when a politician is tight-lipped about an issue that is favored by 82% of the voters, I don’t think it’s because he is a gung ho supporter. When his boss at the time, President Donald Trump, ran in 2016 and again in 2020, Trump promised term limits and his running mate Pence was dead silent on the issue. Not a peep. Of course, Trump was silent on the issue too after he got elected, but that’s another… That’s a separate issue. So, I’m gonna go out on a limb and I’m gonna suggest that Pence is not with us. I’d be happy to be proved wrong. Please, if you run into any intelligence on the subject, please pass it along. If he mentions it in any news panels or anything that comes up, please let us know. Hopefully he’ll be asked this question during the debates.
Philip Blumel: Christie and Burgum and Scott join other pro term limit aspirants, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy.
Philip Blumel: Next. In this week’s breaking news on term limits, Holly Robichaud provided an update on, among a lot of other things of course, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Holly Robichaud: We’ve previously discussed the situation with California Senator Dianne Feinstein. She’s returned to work in the Senate after being out for two months. We’re glad she’s able to return back to the Senate and wish her a speedy recovery. Yet questions are being raised about her return. The Los Angeles Times reports that Senator Feinstein, who was first elected in 1992, did not appear to know that she was out of office for two months and maintained that she had been working at the Senate for those past two months and also had been voting on issues despite the fact that she wasn’t. Many on both sides of the aisle have been mentioning that Senator Feinstein’s situation is yet another reason why we need term limits.
Philip Blumel: Holly’s YouTube program, Breaking News on Term Limits, is available at youtube.com/ustermlimits. Oh Lordy, let’s revisit the epic quest of term limited ex mayor of Warren, Michigan [chuckle] to cling to power in the face of the voters and now in face of the courts. Mayor Jim Fouts, you may recall, was first elected in 2007 and then term limited out of office by voters who overwhelmingly imposed term limits on the Warren mayor and city commission. Here’s the full story with the latest news from WXYZ in Detroit.
Speaker 5: We turn now to Warren where a Mayor Jim Fouts says he’s disappointed with the state Supreme Court’s decision keeping him from running for reelection.
Speaker 6: In 2020, residents voted overwhelmingly to change the city charter, limiting all elected officials to three terms in office. The mayor tried several times to get those term limit rules changed but failed, then decided he would run again anyway. So the city council filed a lawsuit to remove Fouts from the ballot. Michigan Supreme Court deciding Wednesday not to review a lower court’s decision to uphold the city charter and keep the term limits in place.
Speaker 5: Today, Fouts firing back with his first public comments since the ruling and 7 investigator Heather Catallo has been following this legal battle and the mayor had a lot to say today, Heather.
Heather Catallo: He sure did.
Speaker 6: Wow.
Heather Catallo: He had a lot to say. He spent a lot of time today touting his achievements over the years, but he also made clear that he’s not happy with this outcome. He claimed the courts were manipulating the election and even made suggestions without any proof that there may be corruption in our state’s highest courts.
James Fouts: Rather than manipulate the election process, let the people decide. If the people don’t like Jim Fouts, out he goes.
Heather Catallo: Back in 2020, the people of Warren did make a decision. They decided to impose term limits on all elected officials in Michigan’s third largest city, including Warren’s longtime mayor Jim Fouts. Nearly 68% of Warren voters passed a change to the city Charter that only allows city leaders to serve three terms in office.
James Fouts: I’m going to continue to speak out for the citizens of Warren.
Heather Catallo: Despite those term limits, Fouts decided to run again, so the Warren City Council took the issue to court. The Macomb County Circuit Court said he could be on the ballot, but the Court of Appeals ruled the charter was clear and Fouts had to be removed from the ballot. Then on Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear the case, officially ending Fouts’ legal fight and his campaign.
James Fouts: Macomb County Circuit Judge Toia got it right. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals didn’t and the Supreme Court just said, “Ah, we don’t want to hear it.” I was told you can’t criticize them because they are like God, that’s why they wear the robe, I guess. But you know what, I wonder if somehow somebody didn’t meet with some of these judges, maybe over a coffee, maybe over a Coca-Cola, if somehow they didn’t change their mind. I don’t know.
Heather Catallo: Based on some of your statements, are you suggesting the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of this state are corrupt?
James Fouts: No. I’m saying, I don’t know. All I know is that they made a decision which didn’t make sense and I know in the state of Michigan it’s very common for judges to be wined and dined by law firms.
Heather Catallo: Fouts recently held two political fundraisers, including one that took place even after the Court of Appeals ordered him off the ballot. Dozens of city officials attended the events that cost anywhere from $125 to $1000 to attend.
Heather Catallo: What will you do with your campaign contributions you accepted at your two fundraisers so far?
James Fouts: I don’t know. I may try to see if I can help other people in a reform thing. We’ll see. I don’t know. I’d have to check with the law on that. I have no idea.
Heather Catallo: Fouts filled today’s press conference at City Hall with supporters.[applause]
Speaker 9: I regret the fact that our mayor cannot run again because he’s done an excellent job here.
Heather Catallo: But others like city council member Garry Watts were barred from attending, and city workers were used to guard the doors.
Garry Watts: I proceeded to the police department and I made a police report because I was denied access to a meeting on city property that was obviously closed when it should have been open.
Heather Catallo: Today, Fouts stopped short of endorsing a candidate, acknowledging he could not legally do that from City Hall, but he did make a very clear point to mention his HR Director who was in the room today and happens to be one of the six candidates for Warren mayor. Fouts says he’ll be making endorsements soon and will stay active in Warren politics, but it will have to be from the sidelines now.
Speaker 6: Yeah. A lot of theories today. Wow. We’ll see what happens.
Speaker 5: Those doors being closed, that’s interesting as well.
Speaker 6: Yes.
Philip Blumel: [laughter] Let the people decide, he says. They did. 68% of Warren voters approved the term limits measure. They voted on it. Oh boy. Classic anti term limits politician. But why stop there? Let’s go to North Miami Beach where the mayor, anti term limits politician, Tony DeFillipo, on three third degree felony counts of illegal voting. Each carries up to a five year prison sentence, $5000 in fines and five years probation. During the press conference announcing the arrest, Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said her office has evidence DeFillipo voted illegally three times. She said locational data from DeFillipo’s cell phone will prove he traveled from Broward County to North Miami to cast ballots in August, October, November 2022 despite no longer being a resident of the city. The mayor has faced allegations in recent months that he does not live in North Miami Beach, which is a requirement for elected city officials and instead resides in a $1.2 million divvy home he and his wife bought in July of 2022.
Philip Blumel: DeFillipo has repeatedly denied the allegation that he doesn’t live in North Miami Beach. [chuckle] Anyway, Wednesday’s arrest marks the third time criminal charges have been levied against Mayor DeFillipo in Miami-Dade. He was also booked for petty theft in July 1990, and also cannabis possession in May 2013, according to the County Clerk records. So DeFillipo was suspended from office by Governor Ron DeSantis just last week. And DeFillipo was suing, and felt like he might say, to retain a seat. It’s not the first time he fought to retain his seat. As a Commissioner, DeFillipo pushed a charter amendment in 2014 that weakened term limits for the commissioners in North Miami Beach, so that after serving eight years as a commissioner, a politician like DeFillipo could serve an additional two terms of two years each as Mayor. [laughter] Well, this clutching to power isn’t working out so well for this mayor. Actually, former mayor since DeSantis just suspended him. His extended tenure in office only served to give DeFillipo more time for his arrogance to destroy him. Isn’t that often the case? Classic anti term limits politician.
Philip Blumel: Okay, so term limit supporters are running for President and anti-term limits politicians are getting the boot, one way or another. The Term Limits Movement is on fire.
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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 at US Term Limits. Like us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and now LinkedIn.
Speaker 11: USTL.