Goodlatte and the Arpaio pardon

You guessed it: Congressman Goodlatte– who so piously defends the “rule of law” whenever he thinks it’s politically convenient— has not said a word publicly about President Trump’s outrageous pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted for ignoring a federal judge’s orders to stop detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally.

All Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Goodlatte have written to him asking for hearings on Trump’s action.

The Democrats wrote:

We ask for several reasons. The pardon sends an unequivocal signal that institutionalized racial profiling as practiced by Sheriff Arpaio is acceptable; the pardon is disrespectful to the rule of law in general and to the federal courts in particular; and the President issued the pardon in the complete absence of any advisory role by the Department of Justice and after the President had already asked Attorney General Sessions to drop the case completely.  As you are well aware, although the President has wide constitutional authority to issue pardons, there is also ample precedent for our Committee to review pardons as controversial as this one.
We are not alone in raising these concerns. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) disagrees with the decision, noting that “law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States.” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) argues that the pardon “undermines [the President’s] claim for the respect of rule of law, as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.” Senator Jeff Flake would have “preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.”

You were similarly critical of a pardon our Committee examined in 2001: “Many executives have this power for the purpose of accomplishing justice or mercy as a last resort, where fairness simply has not taken hold in other aspects of our judicial process.” You argued that President Clinton had “abused this power” and “not used it” for the purposes you described. These statements are directly on point with respect to President Trump’s decision and demonstrate why the Arpaio pardon is worthy, at the very least, of further discussion by our Committee.

The Committee’s Democrats pointedly noted that “this letter represents the fifth time we have written to ask you to conduct oversight of the Trump Administration.”

Eight months after President Trump’s inauguration, our Committee has yet to hold a single oversight hearing involving the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, the Secretary or Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director or Acting Director of the FBI, or the Director of the Secret Service. Given that our Committee created an entire task force to examine “executive overreach” last Congress during President Obama’s term, it is somewhat disturbing that we have not engaged in any comparable oversight of the Trump Administration.

You’d almost think Goodlatte is afraid to do anything which might suggest even a slight disagreement with Trump.

And all too predictably:

A Republican House Judiciary Committee aide told the Washington Examiner President Trump has “broad authority” to issue pardons under the U.S. Constitution.

And it is because of that, “the committee does not currently have plans to hold a hearing on this matter,” the aide said.

“What do YOU think I should cut instead?”

Nancy Trussell of Roanoke wrote in the August 24 Roanoke Times about a frustrating meeting that she and other representatives from the Bread for the World charity held with Congressman Goodlatte at his Washington office in June.

We discussed upcoming legislation that will affect the S.N.A.P (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) as well as the Medicaid expansion provision of the ACA. We told Mr. Goodlatte that 90 percent of S.N.A.P. participants are on it for 10 months or less. This, of course, is not news to him and it really didn’t interest him. Mr. Goodlatte gave our group an earful about the inadequacies and abuses of what I would call a “safety net”. Nor was he interested in our belief that food insecurity leads to health issues that, in fact, cost the U.S. far more than the cost of making sure families in the U.S. have food. We reminded him that 1 in 7 children in Virginia live in poverty and that 14.4 percent of Va. children are food insecure.

When asked what he thought about Virginia’s minimum wage, he explained that Roanoke is an inexpensive place to live and gave us all the impression that he thinks this is a fair living wage. (I’d LOVE to have him try to live on that – if only for a week!).

Mr. Goodlatte listened politely, I commend him for that. But to each fact we presented, he stressed that balancing the national budget is his primary concern. He was unmoved by anything we said about hunger or the families that are suffering here in Roanoke.

(Although Goodlatte routinely introduces balanced budget amendments in Congress, his budget-busting votes during the George W. Bush administration prove that his commitment to balancing the federal budget is, shall we say, flexible.)

Goodlatte has refused to criticize President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, which would make huge cuts to S.N.A.P., which helps feed more than 31,000 households in the Sixth District, the majority of them with children under 18.

Trussell reports:

I finally lost my temper. I was sitting in his glass tower (yes, he does have a lovely office with fabulous view of the Capitol) but symbolically and literally, he is out of touch with Roanoke and its citizens. I explained that he needs to come back to Roanoke and visit Hurt Park Elementary School on a Friday morning to watch the Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church hunger team pack weekend snack packs while the children looking eagerly at the food and his response was, “What do YOU think I should cut instead?”

It’s hard to imagine a more insensitive and out-of-touch remark. Does Goodlatte believe a program which saves tens of thousands of his constituents (many of them low-wage workers and their children) from going hungry is one of the least essential? Apparently he places a higher priority on funding President Trump’s ridiculous and hugely expensive plan to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Trussell concludes:

When asked to speak to the Bread for the World attendees about my visit with Mr. Goodlatte, I explained that my representative doesn’t care about his constituents and that he must not be re-elected. No one in this great country (already great) should ever be hungry. Not here in Roanoke, that’s for sure.

Goodlatte lauds end of another consumer protection

Congressman Goodlatte is praising the Trump administration for a letter announcing the end of an Obama-era program to protect Americans from exploitative “payday loan” operations.

Goodlatte said the program, known as Operation Choke Point, was “ill-advised” and “discouraged financial institutions from offering services to businesses that the Administration opposed.”

Politico reports:

Under President Barack Obama, the department said the effort was intended to root out fraud by banks and payment processors and to cut off the banking system from wrongdoing by merchants.

Karl Frisch, executive director of [the consumer watchdog] Allied Progress, blasted the letter as “a massive giveaway to predatory payday lenders and other shady financial scam-artists.

“Operation Choke Point has been incredibly effective at cracking down on the flow of money to fraudulent merchants that violate the law and target vulnerable consumers,” Frisch said in a statement.

According to Allied Progress:

Operation Choke Point was implemented in 2013 to prompt financial institutions to, as the Obama administration put it, “‘choke off’ the flow of money to the fraudulent merchants” with the purpose of combating “mass-market consumer fraud schemes in which financial institutions were either direct or indirect participants.” The program’s demise was a high-profile goal of the predatory payday lending industry and its allies in Congress.

Goodlatte continues to be a cheerleader for the Trump administration’s push to roll back federal protections for consumers, workers and the environment.

GOP congressman asks Goodlatte for hearing on white supremacists

For months Congressman Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has studiously ignored a series of letters from Democratic members of the committee asking him to schedule hearings on President Trump’s financial conflicts of interest, the firing of former FBI director James Comey and the Department of Justice investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Goodlatte has not given the committee Democrats even the courtesy of a single reply to their letters.

Will he find it similarly convenient to disregard a letter from Darrell Issa, a fellow Republican on the committee?

As members of the committee of jurisdiction on issues related to civil rights and democracy, we too have a unique duty to examine the impact recent displays of hatred from white supremacist groups have on civil rights in America. Therefore, I write today to call for the full Committee to hold a hearing on this topic when we return in September.


Will Goodlatte follow up?

On Saturday, a few hours after a murderous white nationalist plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters against the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Congressman Goodlatte issued a forceful statement:

These remarks are welcome, but if Goodlatte really means what he says, his words need to be translated into positive action.

One thing he can do immediately is join the sadly small minority of his Republican colleagues in their criticism of President Trump for his shameful efforts to equate the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville with those who turned out to protest against them. And he can call for Trump to fire the alt-right enabler Steve Bannon from his administration.

If Goodlatte is serious about opposing racism, he might want to use his position as chair of the House Judiciary Committee to strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act to protect minority voters against discrimination– something he has adamantly refused to do.

And he might also schedule Judiciary Committee hearings on the threat of domestic terrorism such as occurred on Saturday and on the rise of white supremacy. (Since 2001, far-right extremists have committed the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the US.) Despite calls for such hearings by Democratic committee members, he shows no sign of doing so.

“It’s important that Congress represent the people of the United States, especially when the executive [branch] refuses to deal with … or actively empowers racist or neo-Nazi groups,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee.

Nadler says Democrats’ request for a greater focus on domestic extremism have been rebuffed for months. Committee Democrats say they’ve reached out to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) for action but so far have yet to reach agreement.

“The committee doesn’t have a hearing planned at this time,” said a Judiciary Committee aide.

Your move, Congressman.

Goodlatte reacts to Charlottesville deaths

After several hours of silence, a decent statement from Congressman Goodlatte on the awful events of today in Charlottesville, which at least recognizes who was responsible for the death and injuries among the anti-racist protesters:

I am deeply saddened and revolted by the hate and violence taking place in Charlottesville, and am praying for the victim killed and others injured. The racist and anti-Semitic views embraced by white supremacists have no place in our nation and do not reflect core American values of equality and religious freedom. We are all created in the image of God, and I strongly condemn such detestable views against fellow human beings.

Now if only Goodlatte could bring himself to demand that President Trump do more than make a mealy-mouthed condemnation of hatred and violence on “many sides.” (When violent Islamic extremists do this sort of thing, he’s usually a lot more specific.)

Other Congressional Republicans can do it.

Why does Goodlatte continue his oh-so-gentle treatment of a president even he must realize is unfit to lead our country?

Goodlatte campaign cash keeps rolling in

In June Goodlatte Watch reported that Congressman Goodlatte’s 2018 reelection campaign had taken in $144,425 in donations during the first three months of this year.

Now the figures for April through June have been reported by the Federal Election Commission: an additional $233, 836 for Goodlatte’s campaign– almost all from corporate, banking and wealthy donors.

All but $5,400 of that amount is designated for the Republican primary– assuming Goodlatte has a GOP challenger.


Town hall tally: Hurd 19, Goodlatte 0

According to the Town Hall Project, members of Congress have scheduled 130 face-to-face open meetings with their constituents between today and September 24.

Of those, 16 Republicans have scheduled 71 meetings and 29 Democrats have scheduled 57 meetings.

Most remarkably, one Republican congressman, Will Hurd, plans to hold 19 open meetings throughout his district (Texas 23) during that period. That includes scheduled meetings at the Horizon City Dairy Queen, Sul Ross State University in Alpine, and Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ in Del Rio. Anyone who lives in Hurd’s district can simply show up, face the congressman directly, ask questions and express concerns.

During that period, Congressman Goodlatte– who last held a scheduled and open in-person meeting with constituents in 2013– will hold zero such meetings in Virginia’s Sixth District.

What is Goodlatte afraid of that these other 45 members of Congress do not fear?