July 2014 BIG NEWS SUNDAY Transcript

Apr 4, 2024 | 0 comments

On Sunday July 13, 2014, I made what was by then my monthly appearance on Wallis Kriss’ Sunday morning show. And as usual, I came prepared to engage Wallis with one of my ideas or concepts that always seemed to confound him. Wallis had been reporting in Washington for so long, that he was always skeptical about my ideas for changing things around a little bit.  

On that Sunday I came on the broadcast to discuss my commitment to a Creed of Office I would adhere to should I be successful in my 2014 race for reelection.

WK: Good morning from Washington DC. It’s Sunday July 13, 2014. I’m Wallis Kriss and welcome to BIG NEWS SUNDAY. Today, we have scheduled what is becoming our monthly visit with Congressman Jonathon Braxton. Congressman, welcome back to the show.

JB: Thanks Wallis. As always, it’s a pleasure to come on and add some juice to your ratings.

WK: Likewise Congressman, it’s always a pleasure to have you here so we can insure your political career maintains its upward trajectory.

JB: Uh now Wallis. you must remember our first few conversations where you and I discussed whether or not I was a politician. Just because I decided to run for office, and you know my reason why, to my thinking ‘politician’ was not the right label for me. I was thinking of myself more as an ‘advocate’.  

WK: Well Congressman however you choose to view yourself, to our viewers you are very much a politician. And your successful effort last year to transform our Public Education system with your STYLE legislation has only cemented that observation.

JB: OK Wallis. Good point. Now allow me to shred that observation and perhaps your viewers will see me differently.

WK: Very well Congressman, the floor is yours.

JB: Wallis, when I was home in my District a few weeks ago, we held a Town Hall event where one of my constituents asked me to draft and sign what he described as a Creed of Office. He wanted to know how I viewed my responsibilities as his representative in the House. He shared how he was frustrated with how politicians always abused their oath of office and lied about where they stood on issues. He wanted me to share with him and his fellow constituents, what my guiding principles were and he wanted a commitment in writing from me.

WK: Congressman that sounds all well and good, but from a political strategy standpoint, putting commitments in writing where your positions could be used against you in the future should political winds change, does not sound like a sound strategic move.

JB: Wallis, your response is exactly what I expected and exactly why I thought this gentleman’s suggestion was a great one. Here’s the Creed I drafted and will commit to for however long I remain in the House. And as you can see that time is limited to three more terms. And by the way, your response was exactly the same as the Hale Brothers and Rob Wiley’s. The unfavorable consensus convinced me it was the right thing to do.

WK: OK Congressman let’s take a look at your Creed. Article 1 is about term limits. You are committing to no more than four terms of office. What’s your thinking there?

JB: Pretty simple Wallis. Serving in Congress was never meant to be, and should never be considered a ‘profession’. The longer one serves in office, the more entrenched they become in the ways of Congress. And these ’ways’ are the enablers of the obscene levels of fraud, corruption, waste and abuse that we are subject to. Simple answer; term limits is an initial step to turn the tide.

WK: OK, Article 2. You’re going to make your comings and goings completely transparent by posting your calendar online. Everyone will see exactly how and where you are spending your time. Aren’t you concerned about the distractions, the criticisms, the lack of privacy.

JB: No

WK: OK no. Care to elaborate?

JB: Do I have to? In my role as a Congressman, I work for my constituents. I’m serving only because they’ve enabled me to. Through their taxes, they pay my way, my salary, my staff, my travel. Seems only fitting they be able track their investment. Remember Wallis, I’m a businessman. I’m into tracking ROI. And apparently so are a few of my constituents. And its good. I don’t mind being held accountable.

WK: Article 3. Campaign contribution limits. You’re not going to accept any more than $500 in total from any one individual, committee, group, or organization. And Article 3 has the language ‘until such time as elections for federal office become federally funded’. Now I’m not aware of any such efforts currently underway in Congress to fund federal elections, so what’s behind those words?

JB: Stay tuned on that Wallis. We’re working on something to fix the country, and to my way of thinking, the way we do that is to get different kinds of people to run for office. That’s where we start to turn things around. And the way we get the right people to run is we get rid of the dirty money in Washington.

WK: That’s a noble position Congressman, but considering the way the Democrats operate, and with your campaign war chest constrained by your self-imposed campaign limits, your eventual opponent in November will be able to outspend you considerably.

JB: Yes I know. It’s going to be a challenge to compete. But dirty money in politics is at the root of all the problems in this country. We’ve got to start on the road back at some point. And it looks like it will be in the CA26 Congressional District. We’ll work to have a better message and better ideas to counter the stupid TV commercials and campaign mailers we’ll being seeing from our opponent.

WK: OK. Article 4. No out-of-state money. That’s pretty easy to understand.

JB: Easy to understand but hard for my colleagues to resist. As the size and scope of the federal government has expanded, the local nature of Congressional elections have evolved into federal ones. As such, local Congressional races are attracting lots of out-of-state funding from groups with national agendas. This is disenfranchising the voters as the representatives they vote for are beholden to these groups, which leads them to turn their attention away from local issues. Money coming into Congressional elections from out-of-state is dirty. Our campaign will not accept any, $500 limit or not.

WK: Article 5 Complete transparency on who is contributing to your campaign and how much. All donors will be listed on your website.

JB: Yep. It will all be there and there will be no contributions totaling more than $500 accepted from any one person or organization.

WK: Article 6. On your website you’re going to discuss all legislation on the docket you’ll be voting on. And you’re going to elaborate on which way you’re going to vote and why. I like that.

JB: So do we. The people in my district deserve to know how I’m voting and why. We want to make it as easy as possible for them. This is the only way they can know if I’m the right person, in their eyes, for the job, and make an informed judgment with their vote if we decide on running for reelection. We’ll also dedicate a good portion of time for this discussion during our town halls.

WK: That’s a nice transition to Article 7. Local Town Halls in the District. This seems pretty consistent with what most Congressmen and women do. Why did you feel the need to have this in your Creed?

JB: Actually Wallis, not all my colleagues hold regular town halls, especially when the road gets bumpy for them. So we’re committing to holding one every ninety days, while giving plenty of advance notice of date and location. Also we’re committing to stay in the room until every last question from my constituents is asked and answered. No running out to catch whatever or go wherever.

WK: Article 8. Lobbyists. Your favorite subject. How are you committing to working with them?

JB: Simple. I’ll meet with any lobbyist that wants to meet with me, at least once. But on the condition that they tell us before we meet what their agenda is. They would be informed that the agenda will be posted on our website before we meet, and also that a summary of our meeting would also be posted there within five days after we meet. And if they go off topic during our meeting, the meeting is over. And we won’t have any reason to meet again.

WK: OK Congressman, I hear you. And I believe that you would likely have zero lobbyist meetings under those conditions.

JB: Well that’s good. I’ll have more time to do the things I was elected to do. I’m pretty sure the people voting for me would prefer I do something more productive with my time. But if a lobbyist has a worthwhile agenda that he’s comfortable sharing with my constituents, we’ll meet. And I’ll even pick up the dinner tab out of my own pocket.

WK: Right OK. Article 9. Gifts. Looks like no gifts for you.

JB: Nope. No gifts.

WK: Article 10. That one should shake up a few of your colleagues. I have a sense of your thinking on this one, but please let our listeners know why it’s in your Creed.

JB: Look Wallis, if at any time a majority of my constituents do not want me in office, then it means I’m not doing the job and I should be replaced. The job is not about me. It’s about doing the people’s work. Many members of Congress, particularly one’s who have served many terms, have lost sight of this. Ideally we will have term limits as the law at some point and this entitlement will go away, but nonetheless my commitment to voters in my District is that I will resign with no conditions should a majority of them within a ninety-day period, sign a petition asking me to leave. And Article 11 is a restatement of the fact that I’m an in office solely for the interests of the voters.

WK: Very well, lastly Article 12? Your votes will be your own. What exactly do you mean?

JB: Simply stated Wallis, all my votes on legislation will be based on my own best judgment as to whether the legislation is in the best interests of my constituents. I will not cast a vote simply to go along party lines or to position a quid pro quo or some other unrelated agenda. That is the way Washington works today. That’s not the way Washington should work tomorrow.

WK: Thank you Congressman. We’re almost out of time. Any last words for our audience.

JB: Wallis. I’d like to ask your audience to ponder a couple of questions. First, if every member of Congress committed to a Creed like this, would we attract a better quality of individual to serve? And second, with better qualified and more principled people in office, would the Congress be better able to solve problems and address the issues that face this country?

WK: Thank you again Congressman. Given your success in office in such a very short period of time, I think you have effectively made the case that the answers to both your questions are YES. We’ll be right back after a word from our sponsors.