Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sessions violates Constitution ... on the day it is read

So yesterday I mentioned that I wouldn't be paying much attention to what the House of Representatives would be doing except to note the more hypocritical and atrocious aspects. On Day One, the Republicans hit the daily double.

Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.

The Republicans, incumbent Pete Sessions of Texas and freshman Mike Fitzpatrick, missed the swearing in because they were at a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitors Center. The pair watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised.

Fundraisers are forbidden at the Capitol due to House ethics rules, so I suppose the Capitol Visitor Center isn't actually a part of the Capitol. Oh, and there is nothing in the Constitution about being sworn in at a remote location via teevee.

You just can't make this shit up.

Update: As Matt notes in the comments, it is a kind of a small deal that these two guys stood before a teevee set to take their oaths. Goofy and irresponsible, but still small potatoes. The six votes they cast were nullified without consequence, and Weeper Boehner bailed out Sessions and Fitzpatrick by swearing them in properly today, but not before Cong. Anthony Weiner (D- NY) called for them to forfeit a day's pay.

The big deal is why they were MIA from their oath-taking in the first place: the fundraiser.

Democrats and congressional watchdog groups accused Republicans on Friday of illegally holding a campaign fundraiser in the Capitol complex during this week's swearing-in ceremonies for lawmakers.

More (and a reiteration of the citation above):

Holding a fundraiser in the Capitol could be both unethical and illegal, according to the Committee on Standards and Ethics.  And, in fact, the Capitol Visitor Center says in the document outlining its official uses, "Visitor Center space may not be used for any fund-raising purpose.... Visitor Center space may not be used for political activities, including political campaign, political party, or political action committee activities." That's the rules.

Fitzpatrick's spokesperson says it wasn't a fundraiser, but they just charted a $30 fee for "transportation costs for the festivities." Nonetheless, the event was sponsored by the Fitzpatrick campaign, which sure makes it seem like a massive violation of the rules.

Following the Constitution? Adhering to the House ethics rules? Those are supposed to apply to Republicans ... right?

Update II: Then again, it may be barely legal, and thus only sleazy.


Matt Bramanti said...

Perry, Article VI of the constitution requires only that "Representatives...shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution." It doesn't fix the manner or words of that oath.

PDiddie said...

Right, Matt. There's nothing in the Constitution that allows for remote swearing-in via closed circuit television. Like I said.

If one could take an oath via teevee, then I'd never report for jury duty again.

You're picking tiny little inconsequential nits again.