There have been various cases of congressional ethics violations that are listed in the Congressional Misconduct Database. One of the recent cases of congressional misconduct is that of Patrick Meehan who up to the time of resignation was a Pennsylvania congressman. In 2017, Patrick was involved in a sexual harassment scandal where he called a former aide a “soul mate.” (Fram & Levy, 2018). The former aide alleged that Patrick showed some interest in her personal life. He went ahead and expressed romantic desires both in a handwritten letter and in person. These happened when the former staffer had started a serious relationship with another person who was not a colleague in the office.
Patrick’s aide did not reciprocate and this made Patrick become hostile towards her. It became difficult for her to work in the office. She filed a complaint and later started working from home. Patrick then used taxpayers’ funds to privately settle sexual harassment claims (Fram & Levy, 2018). This triggered an investigation that led to his removal from the House Committee on Ethics. I agree with the verdict of the House Committee on Ethics on various grounds. First, the former congressperson violated the house ethics by being involved in sexual harassment offenses. Second, the verdict was in order because Patrick unlawfully used $39,000 taxpayers’ money from his office to make severance payment (Fram & Levy, 2018). This was a gross violation of the Congressional code of conducts. Although he later accepted to repay the money, he had already violated the trust of taxpayers hence was fit to be charged and removed from office as it was done by the House of Representatives. The verdict on Patrick has lowered my trust on members of the Congress, especially the way they spend taxpayers’ money. I have little trust in Congress especially on matters ethics and how they use taxpayer’s money.
Third Party Candidate
Third party candidate in the U.S. has never been successful in winning the presidential election due to a number of reasons. One of the political reasons is the necessity of getting an absolute majority in the Electoral College. This issue has made the third party unviable in America. Practically, it is hard for a third party to win a presidential seat because the U.S. president is not elected by the plurality of the Electoral College or by popular vote (Bartlett, 2010). The third party would only win an election if the president would be elected by a simple majority. Second, the expansion of the federal government, especially in the 20th century, has shaped out the ability of a third-party candidate to win the presidency.
American elections are dominated by national concerns. As a result, the American voters are more inclined towards parties that have national interest rather than those that have local focus (Bartlett, 2010). Politically, the two dominant parties have tirelessly worked to co-opt out the issues of the third party. They have folded the third-party supporters into their membership. The U.S. political system and structure does not seem to support more than two parties. However, if it happens that third party would win the presidency, then one of the major parties either the Republican or Democrat would probably be subsumed by it. Definitely, if a third-party were to win a presidential election, it would become a parent party for either of the two parties. Either the Republican or Democrat will run towards supporting the third party and this can lead to the weakening of the two major political parties in the US.
Federal and State Authority
One of the issues facing the U.S. today is the Medicaid option. Medicaid takes almost 20% of the state spending (Lays, 2019). Lawmakers have been trying to explore ways in which its efficiency can be enhanced. The states were given options to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. A total of 36 states including Washington DC have complied. However, the federal district court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. This issue has made 17 states to file the appeal notice to challenge the ruling. Both the federal government and state authorities have a role to play in the issue of Medicaid. The responsibility of the federal government is to set minimum eligibility level for coverage. The responsibility of the state authority in this issue is to expand the eligibility. Both state and federal government jointly fund the Medicaid program hence they have the responsibility to address any issue that concerns Medicaid (Lays, 2019).
There are some constraints put by the U.S. Constitution on the federal and state responses to the issue of Medicaid. The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to set conditions on the federal and state expenditure on matters health. The Republican governors have claimed that the expansion of Medicaid is unconstitutional hence they are not supposed to be put under pressure to expand the Medicaid programs. They cited the two previous U.S. Supreme Court cases on the same matter which held that it is unconstitutional for federal governments to coerce states to participate in the federal-state programs (Lays, 2019). The Supreme Court regarded this as a coercion theory although federal courts have never declared it unconstitutional.
Bartlett, B. (2010, May 14). Why Third Parties Can’t Compete. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/2010/05/13/third-parties-fusion-voting-elections-opinions-columnists-bruce-bartlett.html#5d4ae6fa5f7a
Fram, A., & Levy, M. (2018, April 27). U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan resigns after sexual harassment charge. Retrieved from https://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-nws-pa-pat-meehan-resigns-20180427-story.html
Lays, J. (2019). The Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2019. The National Conference of State Legislature. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/bookstore/state-legislatures-magazine/biggest-issues-to-watch-in-2019.aspx