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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Pressure Grows for Benghazi Select Committee

November 20th, 2013 - 12:51 pm

Pressure is growing on House Speaker John Boehner to appoint a select committee on Benghazi.

So far, 178 Republican House members have called for a select committee with broad powers to investigate the killing of Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Three out of every four Republicans on the committees currently with jurisdiction, recognizing the failure of the current process to obtain answers, have asked for a select committee to be appointed by Speaker Boehner.

These numbers easily satisfy the “Hastert Rule,” as a super-majority of the GOP conference wants House leadership to chart a new, more aggressive course.

Currently, five committees “investigating” Benghazi are limited by each committee’s unique jurisdiction.  The Foreign Affairs Committee, for example, can’t talk to Department of Defense witnesses.  The Armed Services Committee can’t talk to State Department witnesses or review State Department documents.  And the Intelligence Committee won’t let anyone talk to CIA witnesses.

As Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) noted, “Americans from across the political spectrum recognize that not only are they not being told the truth [about Benghazi], but they feel Congress needs to change its approach to the investigation by creating a special committee.”

A select committee is part of regular House order, and would solve all the shortcomings of the status quo.

Benghazi has highlighted the shortcomings of the status quo, especially if House leadership takes a passive approach toward the Obama administration.  More on that later.

A select committee would bring together the five committees to provide cross jurisdictional subpoena and investigative authority to hold public hearings and issue a final report.

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I will be doing two events next week in North Carolina about the new election integrity laws currently being attacked by Eric Holder’s Justice Department.  Both are sponsored by the Federalist Society.

On Tuesday, November 12, I will do a lunch event in Raleigh at the Cardinal Club at 150 Fayetteville Street at noon.  Details are here.  There is actually North Carolina CLE credit for you lawyers out there.  The event is sponsored by the Triangle Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society.

Then later that same day, at 7 p.m., I will be speaking at Wake Forest Law as a guest of the Piedmont Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society.  Details are here.  Once again, North Carolina lawyers can earn an hour of CLE credit at the event.

If you are looking for a reason to vote in Virginia on Tuesday, attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain provides it.

While much of the focus on the race has been on Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli, Obenshain has quietly built a lead over his Democrat opponent.

That’s not surprising.  Obenshain is an active defender of limited government and the rule of law.   He has fought for election integrity over the last several legislative sessions, serving as the point person in the Virginia Senate on election legislation.  He has even opposed fellow Republican senators who were willing to compromise with Democrats in the Senate to weaken election integrity by allowing convicted felons to vote with no questions asked.

He accomplishes this principled approach to governance with a gentle and courteous demeanor.

But his courtesy should not be mistaken for compromise.  He was the Senate sponsor of the law to restore property rights and restrict eminent domain.  He was behind the repeal of the estate tax in Virginia and won mandatory life sentences for child rapists (which of course leads to the question of why there weren’t already life sentences for this crime).

Obenshain has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an endorsement more valuable than those from chambers of commerce, as far as I am concerned.  The NFIB tends to reflect main street America in ways chambers of commerce no longer do.

Obenshain is trouncing his opponent in raising campaign funds.

Best of all, he intends to do what few lawyers do — to clip the wings of outside lawyers retained by the attorney general’s office. He wants to establish caps on fees charged by outside law firms retained by the attorney general’s office.  The office sometimes retains outside counsel for special matters such as redistricting or larger litigation.  In the past, distribution of this work was not transparent, and often went to a few larger and predictably connected firms.  Obenshain wants to revolutionize the process, putting out these contracts to competitive and open bid.

Once again, one wonders why it wasn’t always done that way.

Republicans on Tuesday will be saddled by a governor embroiled in ethical controversy.  In a year when the GOP faces a headwind, Mark Obenshain provides Virginians a reason to turn out Tuesday.

Don’t miss this preview of the Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races.