by J Scott Christianson, Columbia Daily Tribune Columnist
Now that the presidential primary season is closing and state candidates are finally able to file for election with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, I am narrowing my list of expectations for candidates on the August and November ballots.
Here is my current list of what I want to see the candidates support before receiving my vote.
* Get rid of presidential signing statements. Originally a means for the chief executive to issue a pronouncement at the time of a bill’s signing into law, presidential signing statements have been recently used to nullify legislation duly passed by Congress and to create new presidential powers. Such use violates the Constitution and the separation of powers. The next Congress and president should end this practice once and for all time. Congressional and presidential candidates should be on record that they will support legislation to not only end this use of presidential signing statements but also to nullify the effect of signing statements issued by previous presidents. Without the crutch of presidential signing statements, future presidents will have to work with Congress to pass the legislation they want to sign.
* Re-establish the Office of Independent Counsel. While not perfect, the Office of Independent Counsel provided an independent check on administration abuses until Congress let the act that created it expire in 1999. Most Americans didn’t like the way Independent Counsel Ken Starr turned his power to investigate Arkansas land deals into an investigation of the president’s sex life, but they did recognize the value of having someone outside of the attorney general’s office available to investigate administration wrongdoing. Eight years later, having no independent counsel is proving worse than having a reckless one. Without the threat of prosecution, the White House has returned to the Nixon dictum that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Candidates for the White House and Congress need to propose a plan to bring back this important check on the abuse of presidential power.
* No more lobbying in the family. Many lawmakers have spouses, sons, daughters or other relatives who are paid to lobby the legislative body in which they serve. Each year Congress approves hundreds of millions of dollars of spending that goes directly to firms that have hired their relatives as lobbyists…