Are we witnessing the start of a new era in politics where holding politicians accountable for the harm they do is what we expect instead of just an aberration? We’ve seen positive signs this week, ironically the same week that ex-Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown found out that she’s going to be spending some time in the slammer for fraud.
She’s not the only politician who is thinking about prison.
H.R.4526: holding politicians accountable for lawlessness
I talked about Indiana Congressman Todd Rokita’s Stopping Lawless Actions of Politicians Act of 2017 in a post about sanctuary policies. Politicians who turn cities into ICE-free zones are the targets of Rokita’s bill. They would be subject to fines or jail time for ignoring federal detainers, a concept that warms the hearts of many of us who are sick and tired of hearing about citizens being harmed by illegals.
Much as we might like to throw politicians we disagree with in prison, there is a very definite line we can’t cross. Short of abject lawlessness we can’t ethically punish public officials for their decisions unless they intentionally cause harm.
Sanctuary policies do cause harm. This is where penalties make sense when public redress for other grievances against politicians must be kept off the table. In government bad decisions are often subjective, but ignoring the law is another matter.
Resign without being asked to leave? That’s accountability.
Al Franken, John Conyers, and now Trent Franks fell to the misconduct axe this week. What’s amazing about this isn’t that they admit they did something out of line, but that they stepped down without being forced out after a protracted House or Senate dog and pony show.
When we think about holding politicians accountable we usually have elections in mind. Putting their heads on the chopping block without being forced by an embarrassing, formal ethics investigation is unprecedented. Even Bill Clinton toughed it out through impeachment and what was arguably worse, having his escapades circulated in print for all America to read.
Government agencies weigh in on accountability
The days of Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson are over. Homeland Security and its various enforcement arms are back in business, or as much as they can be given the constraints of city and state policies created by liberalism gone bad. Homeland Security targeted irresponsible politicians in a recent press release and the time seems ripe to do something about it.
There is no such thing as Democratic Party law enforcement. Either you enforce the law fairly or you don’t. That means you can’t dole out preferential treatment to groups that come into favor just because the political tide changed.
Accountability gone awry
As local news agencies and the Capitol Fax reported this week, a long list of Illinois Democrats filed a brief with the Supreme Court to spring ex-governor Rod Blagojevich out of the big house.
Corinne Brown was sentenced to only 5 years for bilking donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s difficult to understand why Illinois’ former governor should sit in prison on our dime for many more years when we can’t even agree whether he benefited from his misdeeds.
Sometimes in our zeal to hold politicians accountable the system overreacts. Not only does it not serve the public interest to keep Blago locked up, it won’t deter corruption. At least in Illinois, access to public money corrupts absolutely.
What the long prison sentence does is satisfy our desire to punish politicians who misbehave. Long before Blagojevich walks out of federal prison older and none the wiser others will meet the same fate. Case in point: Chicago Public Schools ex-chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett.
Five years is enough. Let Blagojevich out, but please make it a condition of his release that he never, ever appear on another talk show. “FCI Englewood.” Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved from https://www.bop.gov/locations/institutions/eng/ on December 10, 2017.
Photo added 12-10-2017. Credit: