12 Examples of Stunning Hypocrisy from Tea Party Republicans In One Short Month
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Spitting on the Constitution
For a movement that pledges unwavering fealty to the Constitution, it's remarkable how many blatantly unconstitutional pieces of legislation these new firebrands are introducing.
The Iowa Tea Party is backing a “nullification” bill allowing the state to ignore federal laws, a direct violation of the Supremacy Clause. David Gray Adler, who directs the University of Idaho's McClure Center for Public Policy Research, told the Washington Post that “nullification proponents ignore the fact that one Supreme Court decision after another has gone against them.” The state's Republican Attorney General weighed in, stating the obvious: “There is no right to pick and choose which federal laws a State will follow,” which is why “no court has ever upheld a State effort to nullify a federal law.”
Jason Brodeur, a local Tea Party newcomer in Florida, also got into the act, offering a bill that would make it a crime – punishable by a hefty fine or even jail time – for a doctor to ask a patient whether there are guns in the patient's home. The constitutional problem seems obvious: it doesn't permit the government to limit a physician's free speech rights just because some lawmaker really, really likes guns. Or, as the Orlando Sentinel put it, the proposed law "protects the Second Amendment from the First."
Then there are various bills to strip citizenship from children born to undocumented immigrants. They're popular, but as the figurehead of the Tea Parties, Ron Paul, has long acknowledged, the only constitutional approach to the issue would be to lose or change the 14th Amendment. The provision has been tested in a series of Supreme Court cases, making it a “super-precedent.” Passing simple legislation to strip people of an established and tested right is unconstitutional.
Ethics, Ethics, Ethics
The new GOP caucus promised to restore the American people's confidence in their party after it had become tainted by its culture of corruption during the Bush years. During last year's campaign, Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, assured the public that the GOP would "institute a zero-tolerance policy" when it comes to lawmakers' transgressions.
Nice talk, but just a month after taking control of the lower house, a GOP freshman is already facing a serious ethics problem. As the Washington Monthly's Steve Benen reported, “not quite three weeks into the 112th Congress, a newly elected Republican congressman is facing a scandal so severe, the leadership is already preparing for his ouster.”
With Miami's David Rivera, it's not just one controversy, it's a series of head-shaking outrages that make one wonder what on earth voters in his district were thinking.
The most recent scandal is Rivera's inexplicable decision to try to cover up loans from his mother's gambling-related marketing company, a matter that's already under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Indeed, it appears that the owners of a dog track made more than $500,000 in secret payments to a company Rivera owned.
The Republican congressman is also at the center of domestic violence allegations, has been accused of driving a truck off a road because it was carrying flyers from a rival campaign, hiding the finances surrounding foreclosure proceedings on a house he co-owned with Marco Rubio, and bizarre lies about nonexistent work he did for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Benen added that despite “Cantor's promise of a 'zero-tolerance policy,' the House Majority Leader has refused to say a word about Rivera's multiple, ongoing scandals, or the criminal investigation.”
To be fair, Rivera is not a Tea Partier. But his corruption is so blatant, he deserves honorable mention here nonetheless. For more on Rivera's ethical and legal problems, see here.