Friday, January 7, 2011

112th Congress gets off to unethical start, thanks to Pete Sessions

On Wednesday, Pete Sessions got back to business as usual, embarrassing his own party with a lapse of judgement. Seems he attended a fundraiser instead of the swearing-in ceremony, and cast votes before he was officially sworn in. From Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON -- 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.

"That wasn't planned. It just worked out that way," said Fitzpatrick at the time, according to local press on hand, which noted that he "happened to be introducing Texas Congressman Pete Sessions while glad-handing his supporters in the Capitol Visitor Center that he secured for them when the House swearing in began."

House ethics rules forbid fundraising in the Capitol.
But no matter--even though John Boehner made everybody read the Constitution aloud (costing taxpayers $1.1 million), promising more transparency and so forth, the new GOP House had to pass a "fix" to cover for one of their own. H. Res. 27 threw out all the votes Pete Sessions cast before being sworn in, but leaves in tact anything that happened during meetings he attended--as a member of the Rules Committee. The text of H. Res. 27 is available at Scribd.

For related articles, see They Don't Say Pete Sessions is Bright from The Atlantic, and Rep. Sessions' office explains big goof:
Republicans think their legislative fix will solve the problem, but it also will bring yet another embarrassment.

The resolution to correct the record is the same one that will set debate rules for the signature Republican legislation next week: repeal of the new law that changed health care insurance coverage in the nation. Democrats can now mix in the question of improper Republican voting with their vigorous opposition to the repeal.
We at Sessions Watch would just like to remind the GOP that "we told you so," and would like to remind voters in TX-32 that we're no longer interested in hearing from Republicans who want him out of office. Y'all voted him in again at 60%--the first time he's ever gotten over the 50% mark, so he's yours. You own him. So quit yer bitchin' and if you really don't like him, hope for a good outcome at redistricting time.


Weaseldog said...

It would have been a violation of law to host this fundraiser, so instead of a fundraiser, it was an event intended collect funds from donors.

All better now.

If you call it an 'Aggressive Withdrawal of Funds' instead 'Aggravated Bank Robbery', that activity becomes legal too.

In Washington it's words that matter, not deeds.

UPDATE: Fitzpatrick spokesman Darren Smith insists that the event was not a fundraiser. "Some people paid $30 to cover the cost of bus transportation to Washington. The reception was open to anyone who showed up, including over a hundred people who drove down on their own," he said of the 500-person event.

A document outlining official allowable uses of Capitol Visitor Center space confirms that fundraisers are off limits. "Visitor Center space may not be used for any fund-raising purpose," it reads on page four, with the underlining in the original. The title of the event -- "Mike Fitzpatrick's Swearing In Celebration" -- makes it clear that the event in question is the celebration of the swearing-in at the Capitol, not the bus trip. The invitation asks for a minimum of $30 but allows the contributor to give more. "Federal Law requires us to report the name, mailing address, occupation, and name of employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 in an election cycle," reads the invite, indicating that it was indeed a campaign event.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Weasledog, it looks like business as usual in the 112th Congress.