Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.
Not one, but two House Republicans who won reelection were also arrested last year and are currently out on bail awaiting trial. To try to deal with its new criminal caucus, the GOP will kick off the next Congress with new rules to keep indicted Republicans off of committees.
Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Chris Collins (R-NY) face prosecution in the near future, and the party was at an impasse as to what to do about their committee assignments. Committees hold a lot of power, and letting potential felons have that extra power could be a problem.
After Hunter was arrested last year, he initially refused to voluntarily give up his committee assignments. At the time, the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, “there were no House or party rules that gave Republican leadership authority to strip indicted rank-and-file members of assignments to standing committees.”
What’s a party with multiple members under indictment to do?
In the end, the House GOP passed a new rule requiring any member to “promptly” resign from all committees if that member is indicted “for a felony for which a sentence of two or more years imprisonment may be imposed.”
The rule would apply to both Hunter and Collins, barring them from serving on any committees as they await their respective trials. The two would still be able to speak on the House floor and propose legislation.
Hunter and his wife were arrested for misusing a quarter of a million dollars of campaign funds for personal pet projects. The charges allege they used the funds for family vacations, to go to the theater, and even to pay for a visit to the dentist.
Collins was arrested for insider trading. His indictment alleges he passed along information to his son, who used the information to make stock trades.
Hunter and Collins were the first two members of Congress to endorse Trump’s candidacy for president. Trump himself remains under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for both his ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign and allegations of obstruction of justice.
As written, the rule would not apply to violent criminals who have already paid their debt to society. That’s good news for Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT), who pled guilty to assaulting a reporter in 2017. Gianforte, despite his history of violence, remains a member of good standing in the Republican Party.
Also still a member of good standing is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who has been accused of turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of students when Jordan was a college wrestling coach. While Jordan denies any wrongdoing, several former wrestlers have come forward to accuse him of being aware of the abuse.
Jordan has been named in lawsuits against his old college, but thus far faces no criminal charges. He, too, still gets to keep his committee assignments — at least for now.
On the other side of the aisle, no Democratic members of Congress are currently under indictment.
Published with permission of The American Independent.
Featured photo credit: (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)