REP. MATT GAETZ, R-Fla., decided to self-quarantine this week after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for a novel coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, at the Conservative Political Action Conference late last month.But Gaetz’s decision to take time away from his job at Congress without the fear of losing pay or being fired is a right few Americans share. In fact, Gaetz voted to prohibit Florida residents from sharing that right.
Of course, this very same Pete Hoekstra, who long defended NSA surveillance, didn’t seem to have much of an issue when the NSA was spying on anyone other than himself. Just last year, in a debate with Glenn Greenwald, Hoekstra mocked the idea that anyone was upset at the NSA spying on foreign governments and said if there was anything to complain about, it was that the NSA allowed such info to leak
In a little-noticed brief filed last summer, lawyers for the House of Representatives claimed that an SEC investigation of congressional insider trading should be blocked on principle, because lawmakers and their staff are constitutionally protected from such inquiries given the nature of their work.
The legal team led by Kerry W. Kircher, who was appointed House General Counsel by Speaker John Boehner in 2011, claimed that the insider trading probe violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch.
In 2012, members of Congress patted themselves on the back for passing the STOCK Act, a bill meant to curb insider trading for lawmakers and their staff. “We all know that Washington is broken and today members of both parties took a big step forward to fix it,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, upon passage of the law.
But as the Securities and Exchange Commission made news with the first major investigation of political insider trading, Congress moved to block the inquiry.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) is in the news this month. For reasons that passeth understanding he’s been offered up as a spokesperson for the 47 Republicans who wrote a letter to Iran.1 Today I noticed a number of links to 2013 reports asserting that Sen. Tom Cotton offered an amendment to a bill that would allow imprisonment without due process of the relatives of the targets or Iranian sanctions. The Huffington Post’s Zach Carter may be Patient Zero on this idea:
WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday offered legislative language that would “automatically” punish family members of people who violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, levying sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
. . .
Article III of the Constitution explicitly bans Congress from punishing treason based on “corruption of blood” — meaning that relatives of those convicted of treason cannot be punished based only on a familial tie.
Rep. Aaron Schock is frequently referred to as a “rising star” in Congress, but this week, the Associated Press reported on a scandal involving Schock and his use of taxpayer and campaign funds for things like flights on private jets (owned by key donors) and a Katy Perry concert. Frankly, I think some of the “scandal” here is a bit overblown. But what struck me is part of how the AP tracked these details about Schock down:
The AP tracked Schock’s reliance on the aircraft partly through the congressman’s penchant for uploading pictures and videos of himself to his Instagram account. The AP extracted location data associated with each image then correlated it with flight records showing airport stopovers and expenses later billed for air travel against Schock’s office and campaign records.
In short, the metadata brought Schock down. Of course, as we’ve been describing, anyone who says that we shouldn’t be concerned about the NSA’s surveillance of metadata, or brushes it away as “just metadata,” doesn’t understand how powerful metadata can be. As former NSA/CIA boss Michael Hayden has said, the government kills people based on metadata.
But it does seem noteworthy that Schock was one of those who claimed that Ed Snowden’s leaking of how the NSA collected metadata on nearly everyone amounted to treason. I wonder if he still feels that way…