Political Issues: Congressional Ethics

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Duncan Hunter is a United States Representative serving San Diego County, which is the 52nd Congressional District in California (Lichtblau, 2018). He has been in office since 2009 (Lichtblau, 2018). In 2017, the Justice Department opened investigations against the California Congressman regarding allegations that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign funds for personal expenses including family trips to Italy and Hawaii, video games, dance competitions for his children, and private school tuition money (Lichtblau, 2018).

He is a staunch supporter of President Trump and was one of the few Congress members to be under investigations for ethical issues. The investigation of his conduct began in the spring of 2016 and is continuing to date. The move by the Department of Justice to request the United States House Committee on Ethics to defer action against the lawmaker by reviewing the campaign-finance allegation is a signal for all lawmakers in recent history. Another ethical issue of which Mr. Hunter faces accusations is that he drinks in his office and has multiple affairs with women working at his office, allegations which his staff vehemently deny.

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If the Justice Department finds him guilty of fraud and misappropriation of funds, as well as unethical behavior, he faces a jail term of up to five years in prison. He also risks his assets being frozen by the government. Unethical behavior is common among both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. It negates the gain that they make in serving their electorates. It also affects the trust on representatives significantly. Although he may not be guilty of the accusations, his arguments that he already paid back the money that he used for personal expenses indicates that he may have something to hide. The penalties are sufficient because they teach lawmakers with ethically questionable behavior that they must be accountable and transparent. Even though he is not the only congressman facing such allegations, his case is a clear indication that ethics is a grave issue for public officials.

Third Party Candidates
There are several reasons why third party candidates never win presidential elections. One is due to the laws regulating ballot access. Each state in the United States has ballot access laws that determine the candidates that appear on the ballots. The argument is that if the laws set the criteria extremely low, then it would split candidate sand voters with similar standing on issues. Although such is successful in some European and South American countries including Spain, Brazil, and France, they are not successful in the U.S. because it prevents potential candidates from meeting the criteria especially regarding petition and fees (Foley, 2016). According to Foley (2016), Article 1 of the Elections Clause Act of the United States Constitution gives states the authority to regulate place, time, and other factors of presidential elections, which denies third-party candidates from contesting and winning presidential elections.

The other reason why third party candidates do not win presidential elections is that of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1974 that presents an obstacle for third-party presidential candidates by regulating both the raising of election funds and spending it (Foley, 2016). The law places legal limits on expenditures and contributions and forces the parties and candidates to present occupations, addresses, and names of people that contribute money that is more than $200 (Foley, 2016). The primary aim of the legislation is to keep corruption at a minimum, but it has side effects. The Republican and Democratic National Committees can spend and raise as much as they need for accounting and legal expenses in complying with the Act. It is a challenge for the third party candidates because they are eligible to receive public funds only after the elections of November and only if they get at least 5% of the national popular votes and appear on ballot papers of over ten states (Foley, 2016). If a third party candidate were to win presidential elections, it would reduce the popularity of Democratic and Republican Political Parties and push third-party relevance in national elections.

Federal and State Authority
CDC (2018) reports that in August 2018, there was the 2018 salmonella outbreak in the United States. It was a disaster where over 250 people got sick from chicken salad with salmonella contamination (CDC, 2018). It was Triple T Specialty Meats that made the salad that contributed to the outbreak and distributed it through various supermarkets including Fairway Supermarket. In the first instance of the outbreak, one American at Iowa passed away, and over 90 went to hospitals suffering from the disease (CDC, 2018). Many lawsuits are facing the corporation due to the contaminated food (CDC, 2018). The government, through various media stations and social media forums, made the public aware of the situation, warning people to be wary of the food that they consumed and the source of the same.

The United States Constitution empowers both the federal and state authorities to act accordingly when similar situations occur. Through public healthcare, both levels of the government have the mandate to provide free medical care for such outbreaks and advise citizens on how to prevent further contamination. According to CDC (2018), in federal authority, two departments deal with such situations under the Office of the president of the United States.

They are the Department of Health and Human Services which deals with emergency health preparedness and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention; and Department of Homeland Security which deals with emergency response, federal emergency management, and strategic national health policy. In state authority, there is the Department of Public Health in state government, the office of the governor, state emergency response team, and the civic support teams (CDC, 2018). Each office has various roles, but they must provide the needed public health services, inform the public through the various media, and investigate the issue. The United States Constitution does not constraint federal and state authorities in addressing the issue. Rather, it mandates the specific bodies to deal with it.

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