It’s been another busy week for Term Limits. In May, we just held a citizens’ round table with Congressman Jared Golden and State Senator Rick Bennett discussing the need for congressional term limits. Senator Bennett hit it home why Americans want congressional Term Limits. They’ve lost faith in Congress. Check it out.
I think people have lost faith in the Congress and the government overall to serve their interests. And they see self-dealing, they see levels of corruption, some that are reported and then just a general sense of, “these folks aren’t really working for us, the system isn’t working for us.” And it may not come to the individual level about their own Congressperson, but there’s a real sense, an innate sense that the system is broken and it’s corrupted and it’s not serving the people anymore, and so they look at Term Limits and they say, “We really need to reform.”
Term Limits is on the move. Hello, I’m Holly Robichaud, and this is Breaking News on Term Limits.[music]
We’re getting closer to having 100 co-sponsors on House Joint Resolution 11, sponsored by Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina. But we need your help. Have you called your representative and asked them to join the effort? Please take action by visiting termlimits.com/takeaction. We need your help to get to 100 and maybe even 150 co-sponsors on our piece of legislation. Let’s get it done.
We’ve got a follow-up to the Michael Madigan story that we’ve been covering. A jury found four former Commonwealth Edison executives and lobbyists guilty of bribery-related charges as part of an eight-year conspiracy scheme centered around former Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. In the highest profile corruption case in Illinois in more than a decade, the jury convicted the defendants on all accounts. Madigan’s trial is scheduled for next year, yet according to Politico, some people expect that he may be acquitted and it won’t really matter what the result is. This is another reason for Term Limits. Too many people are losing their faith.
We’re calling out two legislators. First, Alabama State Representative Ben Harrison, and second, Alabama State Senator Josh Carnley. What’s their offense? Alabama passed congressional Term Limits resolution in 2018. While congressional Term Limits is overwhelmingly supported by the voters there, Harrison proposed House Joint Resolution 104 and Carnley, in the Senate, proposed Senate Joint Resolution 57 that would undo this work. They’d stymie the will of the voters. It’s typical politics as usual, and US Term Limits condemns these resolutions. We are urging people to contact their legislators in Alabama and urge them to vote “No” on House Joint Resolution 104 and Senate Joint Resolution 57. Shame on Ben Harrison and Josh Carnley for putting career politicians first.
We’ve mentioned a lot about the controversy regarding California Senator Dianne Feinstein and her absence from the Senate. Senator Feinstein, who was first elected in 1992, has raised an even greater issue of gerontocracy. Politico did an in-depth story on the issue. The Senate is full of people in their 70s and their 80s, and a smattering have served into their 90s. Some are remarkably sharp and spry, others not so much. And for those not-so-much lawmakers, there’s little that leaders can do about it, other than cross their fingers, gently nudge them to resign, or count the days down until the next election, which in the US Senate can be up to six years.
At the same time, Washington has become a gerontocracy. Match up the demographic reality with the political reality of a deeply polarized Senate, the majority is so slender that the absence of a single lawmaker can mean almost nothing gets done. Under the constitution, the sole tool Congress has to oust a member is expulsion, which requires a two-thirds majority vote. Expulsion has happened 15 times in the Senate history, and 14 of them were senators who sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War. Expulsion proceedings have started in other cases of alleged corruption or wrongdoing, but they fell short of the two-thirds vote threshold or the senator resigned before a vote could be taken. None were ousted because of their health or disability. Nothing speaks louder for the need of congressional term limits than this situation.
Now it’s time for an update from the states as we work to bypass Congress to get congressional Term Limits. As I mentioned at the top of the show, our Northern Regional Director Kenn Quinn held a town hall meeting in Maine with Congressman Jared Golden and State Senator Rick Bennett. Representative Golden and Senator Bennett show why Congressional Term Limits is a bipartisan issue. Check out their comments.
I think sometimes institutional knowledge can actually be a bad thing. So, we have a professional core of politicians right now and just the institution itself, let’s look at like a debate like what’s going on right now over the debt ceiling, raising the debt ceiling so we can continue to meet our obligations that we owe. It’s about the creditworthiness of the country, and also our budget. And there’s a whole institutional knowledge based upon years of learned experiences and battles past fought about how to go about winning, right? And what’s winning? The Dems beat the Republicans or the Republicans beat the Dems. Those are kinds of institutional knowledge about how to posture and jockey in position in order to get the big win, crush the other side. Very little conversation about what’s in the best interest of the country.
There’s another element which is that, I’ve seen this in the legislature, there seems to be this feeling that the only experience that’s relevant is your legislative experience, and in a citizens’ legislature, which we have… We’re blessed with in Maine, you have people from all walks of life, all ages, different perspective, different occupations, different life experiences, and we need to find a way of bringing that into the decision-making rather than just recognizing legislative experience, political experience as the thing, because I think our democracy functions best when we can highlight the expertise and experience that normal people have, and so Term Limits really helps that.
Also in Maine, the US Term Limits resolution is alive, originally it was going to be tabled but a re-vote has kept it alive and it’s now been referred to a state senate committee. Let’s go, Maine.
Now it’s time for the corrupt politician of the week, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin makes our list. That’s right, the guy who seems to be on every Sunday talk show. Senator Manchin is no friend to Term Limits, he’s been in an elective office for 32 years of the past 37 years, the New York Times reported on the Grant Town Power Plant, which is a link between the coal industry and the personal finances of Joe Manchin. Manchin’s ties go back to 1987 with this power plant when he was serving in the West Virginia State Senate. He helped the developers clear bureaucratic hurdles to build the plant, then he did something way beyond routine constituent services, he went into business with the power plant.
Manchin supplied a type of low-grade coal called gob. In addition, he arranged to receive a slice of the revenue of the electrical rates generated by the plant, those are the electrical bills paid by his constituents. The Grant Town Power Plant has been the sole customer for his gob for the past 20 years according to federal data. At key moments over the years, Manchin has used his influence to benefit the plant. He urged state officials to approve air pollution permits, push fellow lawmakers to support tax credits for the plant and worked behind the scenes to facilitate rate increases that drove up the revenue for the plant, but increased the electrical rates for West Virginians. Records show that several energy companies have held ownership stakes in the power plant, major corporations with interests far beyond West Virginia. At various points, those corporations have sought to influence the senate, including legislation before the committee Manchin sits on.
That’s what you call a conflict of interest, but as the Grant Town Power Plant continues to burn coal and pay dividends to Manchin, it has harmed West Virginians economically, costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in excess of electrical fees, that’s because gob is a less efficient power source than regular coal. In fact, he has blocked attempts by the EPA to investigate the plant. Today the bulk of Manchin’s income is from arrangements with the company that he has set up now for his son to run. Talk about a sweetheart deal.
Sick of corrupt politicians, sick of politicians not listening to you, sick of your voice not being heard in the halls of government? Then it’s time to pass Term Limits, but we can’t do it without you. Please go to termlimits.com and get involved today, and be sure to share this program with your friends so they know what’s happening on Term Limits. I’m Holly Robichaud with Breaking News on Term Limits. We’ll be back to you next week.[music]