There is a forgiving nature in the Southerner that surprises the occasional Yankee visitor. Doors are opened, ladies are escorted off of curbs, and conversation is edifying. There is a sharp but tailored critique of wrongdoing, and forgiveness comes as easy as the gentle southern gulf breeze–but only once. Part of the charm of the south is the genteel way they approach human interaction–until, that is, you cross them. Expect decisive correction. I have come to know that this is how the south “weeds” out its own bad, so that the genteel southern tradition continues.
The southern tradition of civility is deeply rooted. That is why the short selling of the American economy by Alabama Congressman Bachus, as described on 60 Minutes last Sunday, and his pursuant refusal to explain, apologize, or make reparations to his constituents strikes them as so abhorrent. Alabamians are asking for the honorable removal of the Congressman who did the dishonorable.
The following is a letter sent Monday to his office, after one sent Sunday evening went unanswered:
This is my second attempt at communication to you and your Congressman’s office.
I am looking to give you and/or Congressman Bachus an opportunity to speak in his defense to his constituents before they organize an all out protest of his non-response on what appears to be a horrible injustice against the citizens of Alabama, and the American economy. He is welcome on my show today any time between 4 and 7 pm.
I will be diplomatic to my guests, Mr. Staley, but non-response from an elected public servant and his staff is wholly unacceptable and will result in a relentless pursuit of the same.
I am not only an engaged Republican, Tea Partier, and show host, I am his constituent.
Please respond to my Producer, Jason (cc’d), ASAP.
The congressman’s office sent a written statement in response to the interview request as follows (edited for brevity):
…Congressman Bachus is not available for an interview for the show, but we did want to send along the statement given to 60 Minutes and to others in the media who have asked about this.
Congressman Bachus makes sure to comply with the law and House Ethics rules, and his financial transactions are publicly disclosed. Chairman Bachus does not trade in financial sector companies over which the Financial Services Committee has jurisdiction.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (AL-6)
The office offered nothing in terms of a personal apology, restoration to American taxpayers, commitment to reform, or other “non-canned” answers for his constituents. A follow up letter with suggestions as to the former is drafted, and the Congressman’s response will be reported here, as well.
Local Alabama reaction has been starkly consistent in terms of a call for him to respond, or in some way even acknowledge that his voters are angry. Michael Hart, Talk Show Host on popular FM station WYDE said:
While investing in a company a Congressmen maintains oversight on is not illegal, the practice does raise several serious issues… since US Congress members are briefed by their staffs on most issues they vote on, these staffers are often privy to the same information… they… are not forbidden from taking advantage of this information. Each new person added to this ‘group of insiders’ becomes another potential conduit for sensitive information to leak out and could even encourage lobbying of Congressional Staffers by investors seeking to exploit what they know.
Another potential problem is the possibility that a Congressman may be motivated to vote on policy or regulations that might not best serve the interest of the country or his constituents if there is a direct financial benefit for voting another way.
Local Tea Party activists are already planning a protest of his office this week to ask for his response to the accusations.
Zan Green, President of the largest Tea Party in Congressman Bachus’ district said, “while not illegal… according to the Congressional Standards (specifically), this practice shows how far DC has gone from being a place that works for the US citizens and the Country as a whole, to a place to enrich one’s self.”
Andrew Breitbart has called for the Congressman’s resignation, as has Investor’s Business Daily, and others including myself (if Bachus doesn’t acknowledge his constituents). Alabamians are willing to clean house when it comes to corruption, and most are focused on restoring the credibility of conservatives after they perceive that some have used their offices inappropriately and dishonored conservatives as a whole. The title given Congressmen is “honorable.” Alabamians expect the “honorable” to act honorably.
He needs to:
1. Admit it was wrong (even if not technically illegal), and/or
2. Send the money to charity, or the American taxpayers, and/or
3. Step down from the Financial Services Committee, and/or
4. Commit to real ethics reform.
The reality is that no one truly expects this Congressman to do the right thing. Listeners to The Dr. Gina show described a town hall meeting where people were asking some tough questions and Bachus angrily stomped off stage, saying, “I don’t need this.” I am told this happened more than once. The question then becomes if he refuses to answer to his district and the country as a whole, what happens next?
The Congressman has no choice but to resign or face a constant firestorm from Tea Party and other GOP activists who are working hard on self-policing the standards of behavior for their membership as they look ahead to the 2012 elections. And if this Congressman has seen the tenacity of those in the Tea Party who believe they are fighting for the life of this country, he would be wise to respond.