H.R. 1: It’s Worse Than You Think
“…and for other purposes” seems to be included in the titles of so many bills these days that it’s always enlightening to dig a little deeper, past a bill’s obvious provisions. In the case of H.R. 1 -- the 2021 Omnibus Federal Electoral Fraud Enhancement Act -- the revelations are pretty scary. They’re intended to drive from politics people Democrats don’t like and to consolidate in Congressional hands information that violates the Separation of Powers doctrine or the Bill of Rights.
Others have spoken forcefully about the bill’s proposed unjust and ruinous changes to the Federal Election Commission, campaign finance reforms, and general election processes. Today, let’s see what the last 100 or so pages of this nearly 900-page bill bring us. This is where all the “other purposes” are hiding and they’re as bad as the rest of the bill.
Section 10001, calls for Presidential and Vice Presidential tax transparency. What it really does is suppress candidate turnout by requiring that the last ten years of income tax returns be submitted to the Federal Election Commission within 15 days of becoming a party’s nominee.
Those records, with certain limited redactions, then become public just like any report filed with the FEC. Opposition research is complete and available to China, Russia, new or former relatives, all of Congress, the media, the whole world, in fact. For the candidates who are not elected, those records stay public forever. This will discourage private citizens like Trump – as opposed to lifelong political hacks – from running for high office.
This requirement seems to be a clear violation of the 4th Amendment which protects an individual’s papers against unreasonable seizure. This is a taking if there ever was one. Surprise! The IRS already has possession. If these documents are required by Congress for any purpose, a simple warrant based upon probable cause is all that’s necessary to obtain them.
Section 9101 also results in candidate suppression as it prohibits Members from serving on the boards of any for-profit organizations. This may have a chilling effect on any potential Congressional candidates who are also successful business owners, family farmers, managers of family trusts…or the adult children of former 45th Presidents of these United States.
Section 9401 requires supervisors (not employers, mind you) of people who are also employed by Congress to submit quarterly reports on those persons and their income to the House and Senate Ethics Committees.
Under the guise of ethics, Congress critters will be spying on their own staff. Most private companies have rules that prohibit the release of such information to others. And I see there is no requirement for translation from the Chinese for the handler of Senator Feinstein’s driver.
Nevertheless and again, this is a highly unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of individuals who have already completed the SF-86 proctological Questionnaire for National Security and undergone an FBI interview, as have their friends and family members. Again, that information is already in the federal government’s possession of the federal government. One must just have a valid reason to retrieve it from the FBI.
Section 9102 is worded strangely. It seems members of Congress will be prohibited from introducing or impacting legislation that serves “only” the Member’s financial interest or that of a Member’s family or small group. The word “only” appears three times in two lines of one sentence. However, it does not appear to prohibit the same activities for Members who are part of a larger group such as shareholders in a company.
Section 9001, which requires much painful flipping back and forth between H.R.1’s proposed text and the existing text of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 amends the obligation that Members of Congress have to reimburse taxpayers for settlements based upon allegations that the member engaged in unlawful intimidation, reprisal, or discrimination. And guess what? This amendment is backdated to effective from the date the initial (1995) version of this section was enacted. Maybe some members who had to pay out of pocket for their sins want their money back. And maybe the author of this section thinks We the People should pay for their criminal indiscretions.
Section 8052 requires that, if a presidential transition team wants security clearance for any member of that team, the team must submit to Congress the names, employment history, financial history, roles and issues to be worked on, and recusals for each of those members. And if that information is not submitted, the individual is denied access to all non-public information from governmental agencies. This is a clear breach of the constitutional separation of powers, and a violation of the Privacy Act.
If Congress needs this information, which, again, is already in the hands of the FBI, a simple warrant supported by probable cause is all that is required. Someone sure has their knickers in a twist. And it’s too bad for them, but We the People like the separation of powers.
Buried in Section 8034 is the insertion of Congress into the enforcement of ethics for executive branch employees. This occurs when the Office of the Inspector General (which reports directly to Congress) is added to the Attorney General’s role in developing a reporting system for violations. This section also takes away from each agency its authority to deal internally with ethics issues and violations and puts that authority in the hands of one individual. Again, this sure looks like a separation of powers violation.
Section 7001, which falls under a section titled “Supreme Court Ethics,” requires that the Judicial Conference (led by the Chief Justice and comprised of representatives of federal courts) develop a code of conduct. Funny thing is, the Supreme Court did that in 1973, and it has been updated periodically since. Appears that this bill is the first step in codifying that code of conduct, very much Congressional overreach. Wonder if the House has its nose out of joint because it has no say in judicial confirmations.
Section 6201, regarding disposal of campaign contributions, should be titled the Bloomberg Skates Around Campaign Contribution Limitations Act. It appears to codify making multi-million-dollar donations from personal funds to campaign committees, as long as one pretends to run for office for some unspecified period of time using one’s own funds in the process.
Finally, let us note that there are nine separate sections regarding severability. Basically, that means that each section of this bill stands alone and must be attacked individually for its unconstitutionality. It’s going to take a lot more work to dismantle this bill, if enacted, when seemingly the whole thing is fraught with violations of the basic rights of We the People.
And just for fun, here's a bonus poster (concept by Anony Mee; execution by Andrea Widburg):
Anony Mee is a retired public servant.