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March 27, 2014

Markwayne Mullin, citizen legislator

PRYOR, OK — When our Founding Fathers deliberated the governmental structure for this great nation, they clearly intended to populate Congress with citizen legislators.

James Madison described the ideal representative as one “called for the most part from pursuits of a private nature and continued in appointment for a short period of office.”

The Founders could not have anticipated the completely different political climate of our generation, in which career politicians are more the rule than the exception. Serving decades in Washington away from home was unrealistic, because representatives would have drawn a “modest” salary.

U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin is a welcome throwback to the days of citizen legislators. He has been successful in business and overwhelmingly elected to serve his home region in Washington. He makes no bones about the fact that he has no plans to stay there forever. The fact that his business is a plumbing company makes him even more valuable as a congressman, because his is a rare blend of white collar and blue collar experience.

By all measures, he is doing a fantastic job representing this district in Washington. The communication his office provides. even to small news outlets like The Progress has been remarkable. He is accessible to his constituents, and has an effective staff to handle constituent services.

Now he finds himself bothered with an ethics review brought about because he is not becoming “Washington” enough for some who believe that being a congressman should be a destination rather than a visit.

His plumbing company is one of the largest service businesses in Oklahoma. It was successful because of Markwayne Mullin. He is its owner and the architect of its success. Mullin is described as a tireless worker, and proves it week-in, week-out. While he has not built his company without the help of family and staff, but he has certainly pulled the strings that have made his company prosper.

So the question becomes, what kind of rules are there that do not allow a citizen legislator to maintain his or her business interests exactly as they were before becoming a citizen legislator? ”If you can’t be a plumber, what can you do — other than be a career politician?” Mullin said recently.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, an advisory board that does not include any members of Congress, investigated Mullin’s activity and recommended the House Ethics Committee review allegations that Mullin continues to make commercials for his company, continues to derive income from his company, and continues to serve on the board of the company he owns.

Seriously?

“After first getting elected we set up a meeting with the House Ethics Committee to determine what we needed to do to comply with all House ethics rules regarding our businesses. We have followed those recommendations to the letter, even at significant expense to our company,” Mullin said.

Mullin, who is taking this complaint seriously and head-on, said ”I will continue to fight for the right to stay involved in my business. The stakes in this fight are not just my rights as a business owner. We are talking about the very nature of our government. Will we continue to allow real citizen legislators to serve in Congress as our Founding Fathers envisioned, or do the bureaucrats have the power to say that only career politicians are allowed?”

George Mason once said, “Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.”

The prospect of responsible legislation relied upon the premise that those making the laws must return to their homes to live under the laws they created.

If the “rules of congress” have been so bastardized over the years to require a citizen legislator to divest himself of his livelihood away from Washington, then it's no wonder so many of them stay too long.

 

 

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