Friday, September 13, 2013
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics requesting an investigation of Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and their respective staffs for violating the Committee’s rules by proposing and circulating through the press legislation that ties Members’ personal healthcare benefits to their performance of specific acts and votes.
Vitter is fighting to end the Obamacare exemption for Congress and Washington. The exemption could take effect on October 1, 2013 without a legislative fix. Vitter's amendment would reverse and clarify the decision by the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) on Obamacare. The legislation requires that all Members of Congress, the President, Vice President, and all political appointees in the Administration must purchase their health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange without the help of taxpayer-funded subsidies. Congressional staff would be prohibited from receiving any contribution greater than what they would receive if they were not employed by a congressional office. Cosponsors include Senators Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
The text of the letter is below.
September 13, 2013
The Honorable Barbara Boxer, Chair
The Honorable Johnny Isakson, Vice Chair
Senate Select Committee on Ethics
Hart Building, Room 220
Washington, DC 20510
Re: Request for Investigation of Senator Harry Reid, Senator Barbara Boxer, and their respective staffs
Dear Chairwoman Boxer and Vice Chairman Isakson:
I respectfully request that the Senate Select Committee on Ethics investigate whether Senator Harry Reid, Senator Barbara Boxer, and their respective staffs violated the Committee’s Rules by proposing and circulating through the press legislation that ties Members’ personal healthcare benefits to their performance of specific acts and votes. This is attempted bribery, and the exact sort of behavior that the Senate Ethics Committee has previously condemned.
News reports indicate that Senator Reid, Senator Boxer, and their staffs took the above concrete actions, thereby threatening their colleagues in the Senate with increased personal healthcare costs if they do not vote a certain way on a particular amendment proposed by me concerning the 2010 Affordable Care Act. As more fully explained below, Senator Reid's and Senator Boxer’s offering of such a quid pro quo arrangement to their Senate colleagues is a violation of this Committee’s Rules and flies in the face of its enforcement policies articulated in previous ethics matters.
Questions for Senators Reid and Boxer, and Their Staffs
If Senators Reid and Boxer, and their staffs, assert that they have not been involved in this Democratic intimidation and payoff scheme, then they should be forced by your Committee to answer the following questions under threat of perjury:
1) When did you become aware of the Democratic-lead plan to tie Senators’ personal healthcare benefits to their official actions? Have you, as Senate Majority Leader and Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, taken any actions to prevent this bribery scheme from being implemented?
2) The news organization Politico has reported that this scheme was “drafted by staff in response to requests by several Democratic senators…it was discussed at a Senate Democratic lunch on Thursday.” Who are the Democratic staff members that drafted this legislation?
3) Who specifically are the “several Democratic senators” who requested that this legislation be drafted?
4) Did Senators Reid and Boxer attend the referenced Senate Democratic lunch where this legislation was discussed? If yes, were either or both of them a part of such discussion?
5) Was ethics guidance requested from this Committee by the involved staffers and/or the several Democratic Senators who proposed this bribery scheme? If so, what guidance was provided?
Request for Chair Boxer’s Recusal
The Chair of the Ethics Committee is in a position of unique importance, and her integrity and credibility must be beyond reproach. Until sworn answers are provided to the above outlined questions that prove she was not in any way involved in the development of the outlined intimidation tactics, I respectfully request that Chair Boxer recuse herself from this matter. It is absurd on its face to think that the Committee can fairly and impartially address the potential ethics violations outlined herein when the Committee’s Chair and her staff appear to have orchestrated them in the first place, or at best were aware of them and did nothing to stop the violations, therefore becoming co-conspirators.
This situation is especially egregious because news reports indicate that the Democratic scheme includes use of the Senate Ethics Committee process to intimidate senators and influence their official actions and votes.
Upon proof or Senator Boxer’s complicity in this scheme, the minimum consequence for such behavior should be her removal from the Committee.
Facts and Precedent
In response to my proposal and call for a vote on my amendment to reverse the Office of Personnel Management’s Congressional exemption from the Affordable Care Act, Senator Reid and Boxer have apparently lead an effort to employ political scare tactics, personal attacks, and threats that would affect each Senator’s personal finances (i.e. bribery). News reports indicate that one of these proposals would prohibit the employer contribution to any “Member of Congress who has offered an amendment in the House of Representatives or the Senate that would prohibit such contributions on behalf of other individuals, or who has voted for the adoption of such an amendment.” Such an arrangement, whereby the Senate Majority Leader and the Chair of this Committee are threatening to take away their colleagues’ healthcare coverage subsidy if they do not vote a certain way, at worst constitutes bribery and a quid pro quo arrangement, and at best amounts to improper conduct reflecting discreditably on the Senate.
Even if the proposed amendment is not actually introduced, the fact that such legislation has not only been drafted, but also released to the press, has already induced the intended intimidating effect. Politico described the scheme as “a hardball move” by the perpetrators, and the ethics violation has now occurred.
The Senate Ethics Manual makes clear that personal financial penalties may not be used to induce Senators to take an official act. In addition, this Committee has been clear that Senators may not hold government officials captive by tying their personal finances or benefits to their official acts. As recently as 2012, this Committee explained:
As stated in the Code of Ethics for Government Service, “public office is a public trust.” A government employee must not be influenced by extraneous factors when making decisions and “never accept for himself or his family, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of governmental duties.”
In this case, Senator Reid's and Senator Boxer’s tying Senators’ personal healthcare benefits to their official actions undermines these principles. If a senator voted for Senator Reid's and Senator Boxer’s favored amendment, and against my amendment, it would appear that his or her decision was based on personal interests, and not the public interest.
In addition, the federal bribery statute makes it a crime to “directly or indirectly, corruptly give, offer or promise anything of value to any public official … with intent … to influence any official act.” The phrase ‘anything of value’ in bribery and related statutes has consistently been given a broad meaning, to carry out the congressional purpose of punishing misuse of public office.” Just as Courts have recognized that the promise of higher-paying employment is a “thing of value” for purposes of the statute, the employer contribution that is being threatened to be withheld from Members who do not vote the way that Senators Reid and Boxer prefer is clearly also a “thing of value,” and therefore subjects the members and staff involved in this scheme to potential bribery prosecution.
I request that the Committee immediately investigate Senator Reid's and Senator Boxer’s attempt to induce official action by their Senate colleagues by threatening to take away their healthcare benefits if they do not vote for their proposal and against my amendment.
United States Senate
We need to have a mass eviction of the mininons and useful idiots of the regime, from Oblamea on down.
Vitter has guts, and a spine !!!!...We need more representatives like him to help weed out the Pelosi's and Feinstein's and Boxer's and Reid's in Gov't........the reality is that there are too many left wing, progressive Democratic Communists in our Gov't who will protect the other SCUM in the Senate and House...it is an never ending uphill battle: We the people against a Totalitarian, Marxist/Communist Gov't.
But Ralph see we have only a handfull up there that has guts and a spine. The rese of them just look for cover..BP
What a joke!!! No one does anything in Congress but blah, blah, blah and stuff their pockets with money. This, like everything else - BENGHAZI, NSA, IRS, FRAUD, CORRUPTION, MURDER - will never be dealt with by our ;Congress.. Most of them are traitors to America belong in Leavenworth.
WOOHOOT! That's MY Senator! I go see him in Townhalls every time I can...he doesn't let us down.
Alright, about time we start prosecuting ALL those in congress that act ILLEGALLY!
Independent Prosecutor Please boehner!!!
It used to be that being elected to the Senate or The House Of Representatives was an honorable goal and vocation but as of late it has turned into a swamp of corrupt practices and backdoor deals like this. Even Nancly Pelosi stated that "We need to drain the swamp" not realizing that her Democrat Party was the major offender. This is why President Obama and the Democrat Party hate the Tea Party because ending corruption in government was our main goal. At least fifteen Democrat politicians as well as the President need to go to prison as a result of their corrupt double dealing practices.
Every single person here should make sure to E-Mail No.1 Sen Vitter and give him a thumbs up ,he deserves it as there will be hell to pay for the actions he took. We must do all we can to show support for the courage to stand for honor and resist the evil clowns in charge. No.2 An E-Mail to each of the scum corrupt Senators Reid and Boxer , make it non-threatening but firmly disdainful. Call out their shame as the reason the people have no reason to support their now criminal enterprise formerly know as our Constitutional Republic. And No. 3 E-Mails to all the news corporations you can find addresses to and don't stop till they cover this fiasco. No.4 call on the President to have them both removed from power as examples of the corruption that the people are fed up with and make sure he knows if he does not act you will take the position that he supports that kind of behavior. ---This my friends is the Alinski rule of focusing in on an issue like a lazier and not letting up until you own it , it has worked for the libs and is their number one playbook tactic because it is so effective . I say lets turn the tables and use it on them ,OBama if he gets enough light shed on this issue will have to act or look weak and corrupt as they are. Tell everyone you know and we might just let the wind out of Reid and Boxer two heavy hitters for the Dems. This is a huge!!!! opportunity lets jump on it and ride it to death. God Bless America ,and get to work!!
Robert, I have to say AMEN. We the people must start demanding change in droves, we need to attack these issues with energy never known in Washington. Instead one or two take action while other conservatives just bitch. Stop bitching people and start doing. Just saying!
Everyone knows that Reid is a scumball. Ethics mean nothing to him.