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house Bill H.R. 4197

Should Special Counsels’ Staff be Prohibited From Making Political Donations?

Argument in favor

Special counsels’ staff should be impartial and non-partisan — restricting their political donations is reasonable. Furthermore, restricting special counsels’ staffers from employment in the executive branch or DOJ positions they did not previously hold removes Presidents’ abilities to bribe or influence these individuals by offering them future employment.

Hillary's Opinion
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08/14/2018
Of course, because ALL political contributions should be made illegal. Not one penny to any political party, candidate, incumbent, PAC, no one. Every campaign should be run through government supported platforms. A government website with each candidates biography and CV, every radio and television channel with a public license to broadcast must publish that bio and CV for the entire campaign season, every newspaper required to publish that bio and CV. No corrupt money grubbing politicians selling favors for support, no being inundated with smear ads and mud slinging, no phone calls begging for more and more money. It would be a dream come true for so many reasons!
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James's Opinion
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08/14/2018
Get money out of politics entirely. Contributions of any kind bias politicians away from representing their constituents and towards repaying favors.
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Mart's Opinion
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08/14/2018
How can they and remain unbiased. And that should go for immediate family as well.
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Argument opposed

It is overly strict to require special counsels’ staffers to not have made political contributions for eight years prior to beginning their employment with a special counsel. This requirement could disqualify the best candidates from working for a special counsel or deter others from considering employment with a special counsel who could’ve qualified.

Cynthia's Opinion
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08/14/2018
This is the United States of America. ALL citizens have INDIVIDUAL rights and freedom to support their political views with their donations. In fact, it’s just plain WEIRD that this country is now treating corporations better than individuals when it comes to this. Are we moving toward fascism and oligarchy?
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Dicr's Opinion
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08/14/2018
So we can tell people they can’t favor a candidate but big money can still buy elections? Where is the common sense?
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John's Opinion
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08/14/2018
This is more Repugnacant bullshit to try to discredit the Mueller investigation and the people involved in it. Would that the Repugnacants would spend as much time and effort on fixing the country’s problems and less time on propping up a petty wanna-be dictator. Trumpanzees should remember that their oath of office is to the Constitution, not the Fascist/Republicant Party!
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What is House Bill H.R. 4197?

This bill would place limitations on potential staffers for special counsels, and also place limitations on the types of federal employment that a special counsel’s staffers may hold after leaving the office of a special counsel. To work on the staff of a special counsel, or advise a special counsel, an individual could not make contributions to political candidates or political parties while employed by the special counsel. Before being hired to the staff of a special counsel, an individual would have to sign a statement that they haven’t made a contribution to a political candidate or party within an eight-year period ending on the date they’d begin their employment with the special counsel.

For five years after the end of their employment by a special counsel, an individual couldn’t be employed in any federal executive branch office, or in a position within the civil service other than a previously held position within the competitive service in the Department of Justice.

Impact

Staffers to special counsels; special counsels; and the Department of Justice.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4197

A CBO cost estimate for this bill is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) introduced this bill to create qualifications for staffs of special counsels, and to limit their federal employment after working on a special counsel’s staff.

There are no cosponsors of this bill.


Of Note: The issue of special counsel staff’s political impartiality while involved in politically-charged investigations has come under significant scrutiny in the context of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Trump.

Peter Strzok, an FBI senior counterintelligence agent who spoke poorly of President Trump in text messages to another member of the Mueller team, and who oversaw the Hillary Clinton email and Russia investigations, was fired in August 2018 for violating bureau policies.

Prior to Mr. Strzok’s firing, President Trump and his allies called the texts evidence that the Mueller investigation overall was an illegitimate “witch hunt,” and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility said that he should be suspended for 60 days and demoted for improper conduct in sending the texts. With that said, the inspector general found no evidence that Mr. Strzok or Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged the texts in question, imposed their political views on their investigations.

Currently, all members of Robert Mueller’s team have the legal right to register to vote with a party, or to make personal donations to a party. These political activities are protected under the Hatch Act, originally passed in 1939. Of the members of Mueller’s staff with known political affiliations, at least 12 are registered Democrats, two are registered to vote without party affiliations, and Mueller himself is a registered Republican.

Both Justice Department policy and the Civil Service Reform Act “prohibit using political affiliation and may also prohibit using certain ideological affiliations in hiring and taking other personnel actions with regard to career attorneys.” Additionally, attorneys as a group as bound by professional codes to pursue justice and rise above partisanship. Furthermore, all federal employees — including all staff of a special counsel — swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States" and "bear true faith and allegiance to the same." Lawyers practicing in federal courts swear and additional, separate oath "that as an attorney and as a counselor of this court, I will conduct myself uprightly and according to law, and that I will support the Constitution of the United States."


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStock / baona)

Official Title

To create qualifications for, and certain limitations on, staffs of special counsels.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedOctober 31st, 2017
    Of course, because ALL political contributions should be made illegal. Not one penny to any political party, candidate, incumbent, PAC, no one. Every campaign should be run through government supported platforms. A government website with each candidates biography and CV, every radio and television channel with a public license to broadcast must publish that bio and CV for the entire campaign season, every newspaper required to publish that bio and CV. No corrupt money grubbing politicians selling favors for support, no being inundated with smear ads and mud slinging, no phone calls begging for more and more money. It would be a dream come true for so many reasons!
    Like (64)
    Follow
    Share
    This is the United States of America. ALL citizens have INDIVIDUAL rights and freedom to support their political views with their donations. In fact, it’s just plain WEIRD that this country is now treating corporations better than individuals when it comes to this. Are we moving toward fascism and oligarchy?
    Like (81)
    Follow
    Share
    So we can tell people they can’t favor a candidate but big money can still buy elections? Where is the common sense?
    Like (58)
    Follow
    Share
    This is more Repugnacant bullshit to try to discredit the Mueller investigation and the people involved in it. Would that the Repugnacants would spend as much time and effort on fixing the country’s problems and less time on propping up a petty wanna-be dictator. Trumpanzees should remember that their oath of office is to the Constitution, not the Fascist/Republicant Party!
    Like (51)
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    Telling a person who they can and can’t donate money to is a infraction on those individuals own civil liberties.
    Like (35)
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    How about we make these rules for the lobbyists first? How about we make these laws for elected officials first? How about we deal with real corruption first? How about we overturn Citizens United?
    Like (31)
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    Until Citizens United is overturned, this proposed law is unconstitutional.
    Like (21)
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    Get money out of politics entirely. Contributions of any kind bias politicians away from representing their constituents and towards repaying favors.
    Like (20)
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    How can they and remain unbiased. And that should go for immediate family as well.
    Like (14)
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    As long as it the INDIVIDUAL making the donation of their money and not ordered to or using government money to do it then there is no problem. THIS IS STILL THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA despite the Manchurian and his third reich administration’s attempts to change are country for the worst. Individuals have a right to vote and make donations they are still citizens!
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    If corporations are people and have a first amendment right to donate to political parties and politicians, I don't see how we can deny the same first amendment protection to any citizens.
    Like (11)
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    There is no rule where a person's private right to donate to a candidate should be infringed upon. I like to think that adults are responsible enough to carry out their Duty without their politics playing a part, and I'm not willing to violate someone's rights over my fear that that's not the case. Personally, I think people should be allowed to tweet what they want to as well, at least when it comes to political affiliation.
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    H.R.4197 SPECIAL COUNSEL LIMITATIONS I’m in strong support and recommend the passage of the House bill H.R. 4197 AKA “SPECIAL COUNSEL LIMITATIONS”which would place limitations on potential staffers for special counsels, and also place limitations on the types of federal employment that a special counsel’s staffers may hold after leaving the office of a special counsel. To work on the staff of a special counsel, or advise a special counsel, an individual could not make contributions to political candidates or political parties while employed by the special counsel. Before being hired to the staff of a special counsel, an individual would have to sign a statement that they haven’t made a contribution to a political candidate or party within an eight-year period ending on the date they’d begin their employment with the special counsel. Special counsels’ staff should be impartial and non-partisan — restricting their political donations is reasonable. Furthermore, restricting special counsels’ staffers from employment in the executive branch or DOJ positions they did not previously hold removes Presidents’ abilities to bribe or influence these individuals by offering them future employment. 8*14*18 ..... SneakyPete.
    Like (9)
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    This is blatantly unconst. Why should someone's job have any impact on how they make private donations?
    Like (7)
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    No, Citizens United should be reversed instead. The illegal shell company money that finds it way to political parties and campaigns should be stopped. All donations should be small and attached to a person registered to vote.
    Like (6)
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    This bill won't accomplish its stated goal. A potential staffer who is willing to let their biases impact their work will do so whether they are also donating money or not. If someone has a record of behavior suggesting that partisan bias will be a problem then they should be disqualified, but donations alone are not sufficient evidence, and banning donations will not prevent other behaviors relating to bias.
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    This is ridiculous.
    Like (5)
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    No. Dumb. Should every DA, every judge every cop not be able to do their job if they donate to the political party they affiliate with?
    Like (5)
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    I’m pretty sure that these men and women can keep their feelings separate. They are professionals. You know if trumpie and his thugs were so innocent they surely don’t act like it not in even the slightest bit. They (trumpie and most republicans and some democrats) are so guilty of financial crimes, witness tampering, and god knows what else. They all stink of breaking the law. Just read their tweets.
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    Are the Thought Police next?
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