The 43 Senators of the Republican Sedition Caucus Are Every Bit As Guilty as Donald Trump

Voters must be reminded in 2022 that senators like Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson chose partisanship over their constitutional duty.

re printed from The Nation

February 18, 2021

by John Nichols

The 43 Republican senators who blocked the conviction of Donald Trump for the high crime of inciting insurrection to overturn the results of the 2020 election refused—for reasons of ideological delusion and blind partisanship—to hold a guilty man to account.

Despite Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s pathetic attempt to suggest otherwise—in one of the most intellectually dishonest speeches ever delivered in a chamber that has considerable experience of intellectual dishonesty—the senators who sided with Trump are now every bit as guilty as the seditious former president to whom they sold their political souls.

For that to happen, however, Democrats must recognize the genius of impeachment: that the impeaching of a president occurs on two levels. There is the formal process that occurs in the House and the Senate. And there is the informal process of indicting an errant president, and his defenders, in the eyes of the American people.

The 43 Republican senators who blocked the conviction of Donald Trump for the high crime of inciting insurrection to overturn the results of the 2020 election refused—for reasons of ideological delusion and blind partisanship—to hold a guilty man to account.

Despite Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s pathetic attempt to suggest otherwise—in one of the most intellectually dishonest speeches ever delivered in a chamber that has considerable experience of intellectual dishonesty—the senators who sided with Trump are now every bit as guilty as the seditious former president to whom they sold their political souls.

And every bit as deserving of electoral rejection.

For that to happen, however, Democrats must recognize the genius of impeachment: that the impeaching of a president occurs on two levels. There is the formal process that occurs in the House and the Senate. And there is the informal process of indicting an errant president, and his defenders, in the eyes of the American people.

History tells us that impeachments do not have to conclude with a conviction, or even a Senate trial, to matter. They can continue for so long as the people demand accountability. The fight simply moves from the Capitol to the polling place—as it did in 1974 when Richard Nixon quit the White House and avoided a House impeachment vote and a Senate trial, only to see Republicans lose four Senate seats and 48 House seats.

The 1974 election results remind us that one of the vital aspects of any meaningful impeachment is the extension of the indictment beyond the president who has committed specific high crimes to include those members of Congress who engage in the high crime of defending a guilty man. The key is to recognize that a process that may not bring accountability in the Capitol can do so at the ballot box.

AN ELECTORAL RECKONING

Voters in 2022, 2024, and 2026 can and should punish the 43 Republican senators who now make up the chamber’s sedition caucus. A few of the senators who protect Trump will avoid political justice by choosing not to run again. The rest must face an electoral reckoning.

In some states, the work has already begun. A billboard outside Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s hometown identifies the Trump-aligned Republican as “Treason Johnson” and stamps the word “Resign” across his face. It was erected by Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, one of a number of Democrats who are preparing to challenge the incumbent. “The trial may be over, but we won’t forget this,” Nelson said on Saturday. “The billboard I put up is a reminder that Ron Johnson should be held accountable for today’s vote and his traitorous actions. He should resign, and if he doesn’t, I’ll be the one to beat him in 2022.”

In Missouri, Democrat Scott Sifton launched his challenge to Senator Roy Blount, the chair of the Republican Policy Committee, with a double-pronged assault on Blount and the state’s most controversial Trump sycophant, Senator Josh Hawley. A former legislator, Sifton produced a powerful video that opens with an image of Hawley raising his fist in solidarity with the fascist mob that was preparing to storm the Capitol on January 6. “When he raised his fist and betrayed our democracy, Josh Hawley showed us who he really is. And when Senator Blunt was too weak to stand up to his party’s lies, he showed us who he is too,” says Sifton. “So next year when that Senate seat is on the ballot, we, the people of Missouri, need to show who we are.”

Nelson and Sifton are doing it right. So is the Florida Democratic Party, which ripped into Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who embarrassed himself during the trial by floating the delusional suggestion that if Trump were convicted as an immediately former president, then Hillary Clinton could be impeached as a distantly former secretary of state. Florida Democratic Party chair Manny Diaz argued that Rubio had “declared open season on our democracy by voting to condone an insurrectionist attack on our government, an attack unquestionably incited by Donald Trump.” Along with the state’s other Republican senator, Rick Scott, Diaz said that Rubio had “pledged loyalty to Trump above their duty to our country and the Constitutional oath they swore to uphold before God.”

RON JOHNSON’S CONSPIRACY THEORIES

On the top of any list of vulnerable Republicans is Ron Johnson. Like Missouri Senator Hawley and Texas Senator Ted Cruz—both of who are serving terms that run through the 2024 election—Johnson positioned himself during the impeachment trial as a belligerent Trump loyalist. On Saturday, the Wisconsinite yelled at a fellow Republican, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, for voting to hear witnesses. After the clash, Johnson complained that hearing the facts would only “inflame the situation” and screeched, “We never should have had this impeachment trial. It’s just like opening up a wound and just rubbing salt in it.”

On Monday, he tried to explain away his vote by questioning the seriousness of the attack on the Capitol, telling a Wisconsin right-wing radio host, “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me.”

Why was Johnson so determined to downplay the violence that shocked the world on January 6? Why was he so aggressive in seeking to block witnesses and avert accountability? Because the senator knew that an honest examination of Trump’s guilt would shed light on his own culpability as an inciter of insurrection. In December, when he still chaired the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson fed the hysteria that culminated in the attack on the Capitol by organizing a hearing that entertained the most outrageous of the lies Trump was promoting with regard to the election.

Since then, Johnson has continued to peddle conspiracy theories—speculating before the trial that Democrats were impeaching Trump in order to divert attention from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s supposed “blame” for the deadly riot. The senator offered no evidence to support his claim about the California Democrat, who was a target of the insurrectionists. Yet he asked, “Is this another diversionary operation? Is this meant to deflect away from potentially what the speaker knew and when she knew it?” A breathless Johnson concluded, “I don’t know, but I’m suspicious.”

What was suspicious was the senator’s ludicrous speculation. The same could be said of his claim that the Democrats were guilty of mounting a “vindictive and divisive political impeachment” that got in the way of “healing.” By Johnson’s standard, no political figure would ever be held to account—not even for inciting deadly violence.

THE PEOPLE ARE WHAT COUNT

Johnson and the other 42 Republicans who opposed accountability now want to “move on.”

But voters should never forget that these Republican senators refused to respect the essential calculus of the Constitution.

Lead impeachment manager Representative Jamie Raskin laid out that calculus: “Our Framers were so fearful of presidents becoming tyrants and wanting to become kings that they put the Oath of Office into the Constitution. They inscribed it into the Constitution to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution of the United States.”

While the founders hoped that the oath would inspire honorable leaders to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,” Raskin explained, they were not so naive as to imagine a future in which only the honorable would occupy the Oval Office. So they awarded policing authority to the Congress.

“We’ve got the power to impeach the president, but the president doesn’t have the power to impeach us. Think about that. The popular branch of government has the power to impeach the president; the president does not have the power to impeach us,” said Raskin, continuing: “All of us who aspire [to] and attain a public office are nothing but the servants of the people. And the way the framers would have it is: The moment that we no longer act as servants of the people but as masters of the people, as violators of the people’s rights, that is the time to impeach, remove, convict, disqualify, start all over again. Because the interests of the people are so much greater than the interests of one person, any one person, even the greatest person in the country. The interests of the people are what count.”

 

 

‘Dark money’ groups back U.S. House candidate in packed primary

Santa Fe New Mexican

by Michael Gerstein

May 14, 2020 Updated May 14, 2020

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Teresa Leger Fernandez’s campaign has poured money into the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary race to run television and digital ads. In addition, two PACs have spent more than $300,000 on advertising in support of the Santa Fe attorney.

Candidates in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Party primary claim so-called dark money has entered the race after reports two groups together spent more than $300,000 on advertising in support of Teresa Leger Fernandez.

Perise Practical Inc. and Avacy Initiatives Inc. spent the money in support of Leger Fernandez, Politico Pro reported Thursday.

Federal Election Commission records and data from the ad tracking firm Advertising Analytics show Avacy Initiatives Inc. spent $250,750 on ads in support of Leger Fernandez. Perise Practical Inc. spent $50,000. The groups’ FEC disclosure documents both list their post office boxes in Arlington, Va., and both were signed by the same individual, David Brett Krone

Dark money, or money spent by groups that do not disclose their donors, is common in politics. But many progressives have decried the influx of untraceable money because it’s often impossible to determine the individuals, groups or interests behind such spending.

In a written statement, Emma Caccamo, Leger Fernandez’s campaign manager, said: ”We’re proud to be running a New Mexico powered campaign, with contributions from all 16 counties in the district and no corporate PAC money. … We don’t know anything about any other groups and saw their ads when everybody else did.”

Leger Fernandez has been endorsed by a variety of groups, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and progressive EMILY’s List. On Thursday, she was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, an Albuquerque Democrat who represents the 1st Congressional District.

But three of her opponents in the seven-person Democratic primary race were quick to pounce on ad spending from groups that do not disclose their donors.

Former New Mexico Deputy Secretary of State John Blair’s campaign issued a statement denouncing the spending.

“Secret contributions from shady sources are simply unacceptable,” Blair said. “Dark money has corrupted our entire political system, and it’s the reason we haven’t been able to take on gun manufacturers, rein in pharmaceutical companies or pass a Green New Deal. Teresa must live up to the values of our party and demand those ads come down immediately.”

Michelle Barliant, a campaign staffer for candidate Valerie Plame, said in a telephone interview, “We stand with John that dark money doesn’t have any place in this race.”

Although Plame has raised the most money in the crowded Democratic primary, Barliant said no groups with undisclosed donors have spent money to support the former CIA agent.

Another candidate, Santa Fe-area District Attorney Marco Serna, also decried the spending and said he will be taking a “dark money out of politics pledge” he hopes every candidate, including Leger Fernandez, will sign.

Other Democratic primary candidates in the race include Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya of Rio Rancho, first-term state Rep. Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde and Taos environmental attorney Kyle Tisdel.

In an interview with The New Mexican, Serna said Leger Fernandez claimed during a KOAT-TV/Albuquerque Journal candidate forum airing Sunday the only out-of-state groups she knows that have spent money in her campaign were EMILY’s List and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ political action committee.

“I find it hard to believe that her campaign was not aware of the ads that have been running both on TV and on social media,” Serna said. “It’s disingenuous, and I echo Blair’s call to ask these PACs to stop running ads in New Mexico because it’s the right thing to do and here in New Mexico this isn’t how we run campaigns.”

The Leger Fernandez and Plame campaigns have poured money into the primary race to run television and digital ads. Blair and Serna also have spent on television ads to a lesser degree.

In December, The New Mexican reported pro-Donald Trump forces had already spent thousands in TV or digital ads either attacking U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small or backing the president.

Torres Small is running for reelection in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District in the southern part of the state. The race against the survivor of the Republican primary likely will be one of the most competitive U.S. House contests in the country, political experts have said. Torres Small narrowly won the seat in a district that turned out heavily for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Although some candidates pointed out the groups’ spending in support of Leger Fernandez, the 3rd Congressional District campaigns have stayed largely positive, said longtime Albuquerque-based pollster Brian Sanderoff.

That sets it apart from the race in the 2nd Congressional District, where the Yvette Harrell-Claire Chase battle has been increasingly bitter.

“The mood of the two races … are night and day,” Sanderoff said.

Four Republicans are running for the seat in the 3rd Congressional District GOP primary: Former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya, Santa Fe engineer Alexis Johnson, Navajo Nation member Karen Bedonie and Angela Gale Morales of Rio Rancho, who is a write-in candidate.

DISCLAIMER: New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics (NMMOP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. As such, we work on issues that are nonpartisan on a cross-partisan basis with persons of all political affiliations and ideological perspectives to accomplish its goals. The intent of any reference to a political person or party made by us in this email is to call attention to the statement or action made by such person or party that pertains to one of or more of NMMOP’s goals, not to show favor or disfavor to such person or party. Statements made by other persons or sources reproduced here represent the perspective of the writers or publishers and not necessarily that of NMMOP.

 

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan to Introduce New Campaign Finance Reform Package

November 05, 2019

LUJÁN ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM PACKAGE TO BOLSTER TRANSPARENCY IN ELECTIONS

Nambé, N.M. – Today, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, along with U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Peter Welch (D-VT), announced that they will reintroduce a campaign finance reform package this week to bolster transparency and accountability in elections. The legislation is being introduced one year ahead of the 2020 elections.

This package would hold special interests accountable and ensure transparency in political advertising. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling opened the doors to unlimited money in politics, and during the 2018 elections, $175 million in dark money was spent to influence the American people’s vote with little-to-no accountability and transparency.

The package includes:

The Fair and Clear Campaign Transparency Act would require that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) maintain broadcast stations’ public files about political time sold or given away in a machine-readable format. Currently, this information is not made available in an accessible way, presenting a major barrier for the public to know who is funding political advertisements.

The Honest Campaigns Act would increase transparency in political advertising by making it easier to determine who is paying for political advertisements. Currently, the FCC has the authority to require the on-air disclosure of the “true identity” of the people and groups buying campaign and political advertisements, but the FCC has thus far failed to act. This legislation would require the disclosure of the actual people behind anonymous ads.

“With the rise of dark money in politics, it is past time that Congress acts to make political advertising more transparent and accountable for the American people. Our communities have the right to know which organizations and donors are funding political advertisements,” said Luján. “I’m proud to spearhead this effort to pull back the curtain on dark money in politics and restore transparency in our elections.”

The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United opened a spigot of opaque special interest spending in American elections,” saidWelch.  “Voters have the right to know who is behind the wall-to-wall political ads flooding the airwaves before an election. Our legislation will bring transparency and accountability to elections by putting a bright spotlight on the dark money funding these ads.”

“The American people have a right to know the identity of those who spend millions and millions of dollars to blanket the airwaves with political ads trying to influence their vote. For far too long, lax laws have allowed for next to no transparency in political advertising, leaving voters subjected to a constant stream of often dishonest claims and accusations from otherwise nameless, faceless organizations. I’m proud to join in introducing these two important pieces of legislation to provide voters with a level of accountability that is long overdue,” said Yarmuth.

“With special interests, multi-national corporations, and hostile foreign actors spending hundreds of millions of dollars in secret money to try to influence our elections in recent years, all Americans deserve to know who is trying to influence their voices and their votes,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs with the nonpartisan government watchdog group Common Cause. “Common Cause commends Representative Luján for introducing these common-sense bills to promote transparency and accountability in our democracy.”

“There’s no reason a group that wants to spend millions to influence an election should be able to conceal the identity of its special interest backers from voters,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United Action Fund. “The lack of transparency and disclosure for political ads leaves Americans in the dark about who’s trying to influence their vote and their government. These common-sense bills would shine a light on the unlimited, secret special interest spending that’s corrupting our elections. End Citizens United applauds Representatives Luján, Yarmuth and Welch for their leadership, and we will fight vigorously in support of these bills.”

PRESS CONTACT

Adan Serna (202) 225-61