On the 1 year anniversary of our “No Uncertain Terms” podcast, we decided to dedicate the show to all of you who followed the headlines, controversies, and breakthroughs of the movement via this podcast each week, and our move to take action. Thank you.
But of course, we must also recognize those who inspire us in quite a different way. That’s right. The career politicians and their lobbyists, their lackeys, and their lapdogs. The politicians are real. The corruption is real. The awards are fake.
Welcome to the first Scammys, the only award to celebrate the rotten and villainous behavior of career politicians.
First Award is best performance in screwing over the voters.
I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. Your nominees are:
- The Arkansas state legislature for passing a bill titled, “Ethics and Transparency,” that was actually a bait and switch to trick voters into repealing term limits and giving legislators a 150% pay hike. The people of Arkansas have always loved term limits. In 1992, they passed it with about 70% of the vote. In 2004, when the politicians tried to double the limits, the people rejected that with about 70% of the vote again.So what happened a few years ago was the politicians in Arkansas went into the smoke-filled rooms and they said, “How can we trick the voters? If we tell voters we’re repealing term limits, it’s never going to fly, so we need a scheme of the worst proportions to make this happen.”They cooked up something called the Arkansas Ethics Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment. It was a 22-page monstrosity, constitutional amendment, festooned with goodies, and not until page 15 do you learn that what this bill really does is essentially repeal term limits and give legislators the ability to increase their own pay.So the voters didn’t know what was happening. They had no clue. They weren’t aware of the fact that this had anything to do with term limits. They said, “Ethics, transparency, reform, that sounds great. Let’s vote for it.”It passed with 54% of the vote. They got to repeal term limits. They got the pay hike. And since that past, there’ve been seven Arkansas state legislators responsible for the amendment who have been convicted of bribery or fraud, including the mastermind of the amendment, the senator named John Woods. He’s doing 18 years in prison for money laundering and masterminding kickback schemes.
- The County Commission of Pinellas Florida for refusing to put term limits in their county charter even after 73% of voters approved it.Back in 1996, 73% of Pinellas voters approved an eight year term limits law. It was to go into effect in January 1st, 1997, but the Pinellas county government never inserted the language into the charter because they felt that it was unconstitutional, even though no court had said so.Now, there was a court in another county that had made some tangential ruling that they leaned on to do this, but they said, “It’s unconstitutional. We’re not putting it in.” Eight years later, it did not go into effect.Well, a few years later, the Supreme Court of Florida finally ruled in on this, weighed in on this, and said that, yes, county commission term limits in this state are constitutional and they always have been. Some of the counties that had not been enforcing their term limits started enforcing their term limits. Except for one: Pinellas County, Florida. And their argument, “It was never put in the charter,” but they never put it in the charter because they said it was unconstitutional. When it was ruled that it was constitutional they said, “Well, it’s not in the charter.”There are still several county commissioners from Pinellas who are serving on that board in defiance of the voters’ will. They were elected after term limits were passed. They’ve served way more than the eight years that voters approved.
- The Metro Council of Nashville, Tennessee for trying a fifth time to repeal their term limits and failing once again. Just the idea that voters in Nashville, with a overwhelming percentage of the vote, passed term limits with an initiative, just to have politicians almost every other cycle come out and try to overturn them, spend the money to spend the time to basically re-fight the same battles at their own expense.
- The City Council of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida for merely existing and being filled to the brim with corrupt miscreants.
AND THE WINNER IS: The Pinellas County Commission!
Our next Scammy is the best of the worst. This is the Scammy for best actor.
It goes to the politician with the worst excuse for breaking his or her term limits pledge. So, what we’re looking for is the best of the worst. We’re looking for the biggest liar when it comes to cynical politicians who promise voters one thing and then do another once they get into office.
The nominees are:
- Congressman Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma for his role in, “God told me to break my term limits pledge.” He had put a lot of thought and prayer into this. He and his wife got together and they actually did a little video in which they opened their hearts to us and they said, “You know, we really thought about this and we decided to break the pledge after consulting with each other and God, and this is what decision we came to.”Apparently, according to Markwayne Mullin, God is fond of dishonest behavior. That’s not what I was taught going to Sunday school.
- State Senator Gary Stubblefield of Arkansas, who claims someone else snuck in and pushed the button to vote against term limits.
- Maine Senator Susan Collins for promising in 1996 to serve two terms and is now running for a fifth term, claiming that her seniority in Washington is very important. Susan Collins would have been out 10 years ago if she had followed through with her term limits pledge.
- And finally, Arizona State Representative Diego Rodriguez, bringing this into the current day, for pledging to support term limits on Congress, but voting against it on the House floor. Most of all, Rodriguez gave no excuse for his actions.
And the Scammy for best actor goes to: Markwayne Mullin.
The man with two first names, and the man with two broken term limits pledges. He didn’t just break the pledge he made claiming he would step down after three terms. He also broke the pledge he made to sponsor the US Term Limits Amendment. So I think at the moment you do that, at the moment you become twice as dishonest as everybody else, that really sealed your fate. How could we give it to anyone else?
And finally, the Scammy for the Most Corrupt Politician (a.k.a. The Prestigious Orange Jumpsuit Scammy)
The nominees are:
- 24-year Congresswoman Corrine Brown, now a federal inmate who went to prison for stealing from a fake charity she started in the name of giving scholarships to underprivileged youth. She went on shopping sprees, rented luxury NFL sky-boxes, went to Beyonce concerts, and from time-to-time would just get direct ATM cash.
- 34-year Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, for shutting down efforts to force members of Congress to pay their own sexual harassment suits instead of sticking taxpayers with the bill.A lot of people don’t think about Mitch McConnell in terms of corruption, but what was uncovered in the last couple of years was really shocking, that Congress had been keeping a secret slush fund of taxpayer money, a hush fund, to make sure that when members of Congress got in trouble for sexual harassment, that they would not have to pay those settlements, pay those claims, out of their own pocket, that they could instead stick taxpayers with the bill.I talked to Ron DeSantis about this. He’s a former Congressman. He’s now the Governor of Florida. He filed the bill to bring these settlements to light and to hold these people accountable. It didn’t see the light of day in Congress. And DeSantis told me that when he was elected, they didn’t even tell him that this fund existed. The leadership were keeping it secret because they knew if the public ever found out about it, it would be a massive scandal. And in fact, it is.Turns out, the people did find out about it because of Representative John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, who utilized the fund and it came to light, and the media went crazy about it for I guess a week or so. It seemed to have gone away but the fund is still there.Mitch McConnell’s hands are not clean because when this happened, every single female senator signed a letter to Mitch McConnell basically saying, “Mitch, we’re not going to tolerate this anymore. This is unacceptable. From now on, if members of Congress have committed sexual harassment, they need to pay that settlement out of their own pockets. They can’t stick the taxpayers with it.” The fact that he condones such a broken system, the fact that he condones a system covers up for this kind of misbehavior really makes a very strong case for him winning this award.They signed a letter and they said, “We demand action on this immediately,” and Mitch McConnell ignored it. Never saw the light of day.
- 10-Year Congressman Duncan Hunter for stealing and spending a quarter of a million bucks in campaign funds to finance a lavish lifestyle and five extramarital affairs.Instead of using his campaign money to, you know, campaign, he just went on a spending binge. He and his wife were living way above their means. $14,000 vacation to Italy, $1,300 on video games, $600 for the pet rabbit to fly across the country in first class. He was spending money he didn’t have faster than he could raise it.What we didn’t find out until recently is that he was using the money to carry on five extramarital affairs. And he was also trying to start a sixth affair with a staffer who’s now accusing him of groping. So, Duncan Hunter is a dirt bag. All of this was known about him when he ran for reelection in 2018, so you’d think, Wow, despite the power of incumbency, this guy’s going to get thrown out, right? Nope. He won reelection by an overwhelming margin because the power of incumbency is so strong. No matter how big of a dirt bag you are, without term limits, you can still get reelected.
- And finally, 29-year Congresswoman Maxine Waters, using her office to enrich her family through sophisticated kickback schemes. She’s been accused of a very long list of these type of violations going all the way back to 2006, in fact. She’s been given awards from citizens for responsibility and ethics in Washington crew, which is sort of a lefty, honest government outfit.Basically, what she does is she looks for any way that she can to funnel money to her family. For instance, she has her daughter, Karen, that runs an outfit that does mailings for Waters. The LA Times reported in a different case that a Water’s relatives pocket more than a million dollars over the course of eight years from businesses and political campaigns that were in some way connected to the Congresswoman.And in fact, she was charged in 2010 with violations of the House ethic rules after it was reported that she had used her connections to insure a $12 million federal bailout of one United Bank, which had contributed heavily to her campaign in which her husband owned stock.So, I mean, this is the kind of a behavior that we’ve seen from her over the years. She blamed it on her son, and of course, a member of the family, and he took the reprimand. That’s right. And by the way, it was just a reprimand. So she’s gotten really good at this.I think that says a lot about not just how much corruption there is in Congress, but the culture of these guys covering for one another, giving each other political cover instead of exposing the bad actors. I’d be a lot more okay with dealing with some small instances of corruption if I knew that there would be some accountability, some consequence, some penalty for it, but that just doesn’t exist in Washington DC.
And the Orange Jump Suit Award goes to the list of Congressmen who committed sexual harassment! No, just kidding. Mitch McConnell hasn’t released that yet, and that’s why Mitch McConnell is the winner of the Scammy for Most Corrupt Politician. Congratulations, Mitch!
He’s really reached the pinnacle of power. He’s the Senate majority leader and now a recipient of the top Scammy award, the Orange Jumpsuit Award. He’s got nowhere to go from here, but he’s still running for reelection in 2020. So, we will see how that goes. It’s unfortunate that you don’t leave Washington, but for a retirement, indictment, or death, because there are no term limits on Congress.
Not, at least, until we have an amendment to term limit Congress.
Listen to the Special One-year Anniversary podcast (epidsode 52) here: https://www.termlimits.com/podcast/.