Exclusive--Allen West: Leadership Change Needed for Both Parties
In the second part of his interview with Breitbart News on the corruption in Congress uncovered in Government Accountability Institute President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer’s new book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, former U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-FL) said that new leadership in needed in Washington in both political parties to solve the issue.
West was talking specifically about the revelation that every committee chairmanship and committee assignment for every member of Congress is for sale, documentation of which is found in Schweizer’s new book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets.
West said he is not sure if making it illegal to tie committee slots to political party fundraising dollars would be successful without a complete change in leadership of both parties in Washington. “First of all, you’re asking the people that write the laws to make something illegal that they’re doing,” he said. “And I don’t think you’re going to ever get there unless you have a wholesale change of leadership both Republicans and Democrats, people with a different perspective who will go in and truly get Washington, D.C. to serve the American people and not K Street and themselves. So that’s the first thing; the American people have to decide that they want something different.”
West also said he believes term limits are necessary to stop corruption in D.C. “Politics has become a big business thing, even for media outlets,” West said. “I mean, down here in South Florida, you have some very big media outlets and some people have to raise money for that. Also, parties have become big businesses within themselves in which they have to get a message out and things of that nature as well. So, I think a very important part of it should be term limits.”
West said he has pushed for term limits for a long time and believes that members of Congress in both the House and Senate should be allowed no more than 12 years in D.C.
“I have always been an advocate of a maximum of 12 years for anyone to be up in Washington on Capitol Hill, two terms of six [years] in the Senate and six terms of two [years] in the House,” West said. “I think we also have to get back to a point where we’re giving people committee assignments based upon their work and based upon their attendance and their participation and what they’re getting done and their efforts on legislation."
"But, there is an ingrained system, as the articles showed, and both sides are doing it based upon the committee that you want to be on and the committee chairmanships and vice chairmanships or subcommittee chairmanships or what have you," he explained. "So, some people call that a pay-to-play system, which in most parts of the country or local governments, or lower level governments, that’s somewhat illegal.”
Wes added he believes this system results in bad legislation and policy that does not reflect the wishes of the American people. He pointed to Obamacare and the special subsidies granted to members and staffers in Congress, as well as exemptions granted to Wall Street and big business, as an example of what goes wrong when members of Congress are so focused on fundraising instead of representing constituents who elected them.
“As long as you have elected officials who are allowed to stay up there pretty much as long they want to be there, their focus is not going to be on the American citizen but on that political, social, entertainment, and business elite structure that really does provide the mother’s milk of politics and that is the money,” West said. “Just simply look at what has happened with the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. You have all of these waivers, exemptions, and delays for members of Congress and themselves. That shows you who has the impact and influence in the United States of America, because no one is up there lobbying for the individual."
"So, then we get their mandate delayed. But now that the website is not working, everyone is rallying to that cry [to delay the individual mandate]," he stated. "But Obamacare is not really a law because you had waivers and exceptions and delays granted to their elite friends and their cronies and what have you. And so we’ve got a serious problem for the future of our Constitutional Republic and as people say, ‘follow the money.’”
Editor's note: Former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) did not pay to be on his committees because they were not “A-List” committees. His party dues were normal assessments that all members took part in. The fundraising payments for committee assignments came for members who were on “A-List” committees and in leadership slots. West was not on any “A-List” committees and was not in leadership slots on committees on which he served, so his party dues were not tied to his committee slots.