New Hampshire –-(Ammoland.com)- Eureka! The U.S. Supreme Court tells us exactly how to drain the Washington swamp in Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Carrigan. In this unanimous 2011 decision penned by Antonin Scalia, the Court clears the path for Congress to enact a thoroughly constitutional way end pervasive corruption in our nation’s political process.
By law or rule, Congress can require members to recuse themselves from voting on any measure in which they have a conflict of interest. Such conflicts include campaign contributions, independent election expenditures and personal, business or family-member financial interests perceivably affected by the vote.
With an enforceable recusal requirement in place, a large donor wanting to buy a politician would find that politician unable to vote on matters pertaining to the donor’s interest.
Justice Scalia wrote in the Court’s decision that a recusal requirement is constitutionally permissible because the First Amendment “… has no application when what is restricted is not protected speech … The legislative power thus committed [to the elected official] is not personal to the legislator but belongs to the people.”
The Court found that legislative recusal rules have been common in the states and Congress almost since the founding:
“No member shall vote on any question, in the event of which he is immediately and particularly interested.” 1789 House rule.
“Where the private interests of a member are concerned in a bill or question, he is to withdraw. And where such an interest has appeared, his voice [is] disallowed, even after a division.” 1801 Senate rule written by then-Senate President Thomas Jefferson.
For the past several years, I have advocated a package of three reforms to limit pervasive political money corruption in Washington. I now add recusal to this package:
- Require members of Congress to recuse themselves from voting on measures in which they have a perceivable conflict of interest.
- Remove political spending and contribution limits for candidates.Unlike many on the left, I believe such limits to be unconstitutional speech restrictions.
- Require searchable, realtime online reporting of contributions above $200 to every candidate and organization engaging in campaigning for or against candidates, legislation or regulatory activity.In both Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United
- Issue each registered voter a $100 tax rebate voucher each two years that the voter may contribute to any federal candidate voluntarily opting out of the current corrupted campaign money system. Candidates eligible to accept these vouchers must first establish credibility by having raised a threshold sum of private money in small dollar contributions from persons eligible to vote for the participating candidate. The cost of this tax rebate would be at least an order of magnitude less than the cost of the present corrupt system, where political money is traded for taxpayer-financed tax loopholes, pork, and regulatory and diplomatic favors.
Thanks to former state senator Mark Fernald bringing the Nevada Commission decision to my attention.