Recall Them Crooks, and send in new crooks!

There’s a conservative group of [del]nuts[/del] activists in New Jersey seeking to recall Robert Menendez. Menendez is one of New Jersey’s U.S. Senators, and according to a spokesperson for the group, they simply can’t wait until his term expires in 2012, because they (presumably the state of New Jersey) can’t risk another three years of Menendez’s policies.

The New Jersey Secretary of State, Nina Wells, refused the group’s request to place their recall petition on the ballot. Why? Well, naturally, you might think it’s blatant partisan favoritism, inasmuch as both she and Menendez are Democrats. But turns out Ms. Wells had a slightly more compelling reason to offer: as a matter of federal Constitutional law, a state may not recall a sitting U.S. senator or representative. The Constitution provides the method for choosing and qualifying senators and representatives, and a state cannot change those rules. Unless the Senate decides to kick Menendez out, he’s in until 2012.

OK, says the group. But we should be allowed to have this recall question on the ballot anyway, even if it has no legal effect. It could be an advisory question, a message from the people of New Jersey.

Wells still says no, and the Committee to Recall Robert Menendez is asking the courts to force her to change her mind.

Should this group be able to force a ballot question of this nature?

I think that recalls are generally a bad thing. Everyone knows that politicians behave differently when they’re running for office than when they’re safely in office. During the run-up to an election, there’s more pandering, more pork-barrel spending, more dumbing-down, and more sleaze. That’s why it’s a good thing for politicians to only be running for office a small percentage of the time. If there’s always a danger of a recall, then that effectively means that politicians are running for office all the time.

As for this non-binding recall, it just sounds silly.

I think they’re stuck with him. These energies would be better spent either getting an opposing campaign into full swing or building an ethics case against Menendez - assuming he is indeed a crook.

I vote for the first option - ethics cases aren’t easy to build. Congress is pretty good at looking after its own.

So, what has this guy allegedly done … besides registering as a Democrat?

Well, there’s open consortium with known liberals, conspiracy to commit socialism, a whole host of charges, really.


Seriously, I have no idea what sorts of ills he’s done, but I gather they are policy disagreements, not allegations of criminal activity.

That’s how it works, then? Your guy loses so you initiate a re-call effort on the winner? Why didn’t anyone think of this in 2000?

I think allowing this sort of non-binding referendum on the ballot would set a very bad precedent. It would only be a matter of time before someone gathers enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot declaring Politician X a Stinky Poo-poo head.

It’s a waste of time and tax payer money.

I see no point in an “advisory” vote that actually does nothing. I think it would be confusing to many voters and serve no legitimate purpose.

I think most politicians should have the temperature of their constituents pretty well and do not need this (and note I say this regardless of party).

For instance not too long ago I was seriously hoping Senator Lieberman could be recalled. It seemed he was seriously running counter to the wishes of those in his state. Thinking through it more though I think it is a can of worms to open up on a congresscritter. There would always be enough people on the “other side” putting up ballots to have someone they did not like removed. That or you make the attempt so difficult, set the bar so high as to be essentially useless anyway.

Bottom line, love or hate 'em we are stuck with them till their term runs out or they do something so awful they get kicked out by their own peers.

The New York Times investigated Menendez when he was in the House - they focused on one of his key aides, Kay LiCausi, who later struck out on her own. The focus of the investigation was on a possible romantic involvement and the fact that companies seeking public contracts in New Jersey found it helpful to hire Ms. LiCausi. The Congressman’s support seemed to follow.

This article focuses on a medical center. Federal investigators found no clear evidence here, and in fact the mudslinging here damaged Governor Kean politically. But other companies mentioned show the general pattern. In particular, after LiCausi was hired by Royal Carribbean, Menendez announced an appropriation to improve the cruise terminal at Bayonne.

It is hard to imagine any other outcome, in New Jersey . . .

The specific reason they want to recall Menendez, though, isn’t because of his links to potential ethic violations by Ms. LiCausi, though. It’s, from their blog, because:

They’re also trying to recall Lautenberg.

Since according to Menendez’s wikipedia entry he is the son of Cuban immigrants I have to say that I must oppose any effort to recall him or otherwise remove him from his seat, including running against him.

I’m kidding of course, I don’t care in the least about Bob Menendez.

No doubt. I was just answering Bricker’s question about the ethics of Senator Menendez, such as they are.

I don’t know if putting the question on the ballot is legal. Certainly there is no constitutional provision for recall of senators despite the wishes of the State’s Rights crowd. (See the 18th article.) Not sure how New Jersey courts will look at it but it reminds me of the 2000 case in Puerto Rico when people tried to “elect” members of the Electoral College. (Puerto Rico Herald)

Personally I don’t agree that there would be no purpose to such a vote. It can put public pressure on legislators and I’m all for that. No cite but I seem to recall that John McCain said he would resign if an attempt in Arizona to hold (and win) a recall vote were successful. In any case I don’t see how it could be a waste of money. We hold too few elections in America IMO and the more practice we get the better.