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The Accountability Amendment

A proposed non-partisan amendment to the US Constitution that creates accountability of government officials through enhanced power of the states.

 

A Serious Flaw

As praiseworthy as our Constitution is, it has a serious flaw: it assigns responsibility for the enforcement of the law to the president. But why would any president (or his attorney general) in our hyper-partisan state choose to enforce the law against members of his or her own administration? They rarely do. But often, they show no reluctance to bring an enforcement action against the opposing party, even if the case is less than robust. And the American people are left to watch the weaponization of law enforcement, concluding that political power, not good governance, is what motivates many politicians.

When this happens, the opposition, lacking the power position, is severely compromised, and the resulting political dogfight can be a miscarriage of justice or, at best, a stalemate. The result? Our government officials waste months or even years embroiled in a battle over power while ignoring our real problems.

This serious gap in law enforcement must be fixed: we must move the authority to enforce the law against government officials from the politicians of the executive branch to a staff of political centrists under state control.

But the good news is that in the act of fixing it, we will create a place that starts us on the track to introduce and nurture changes that will ultimately transform our federal government into a functioning, effective, respectful institution that operates with a collegial spirit. The days of hyper-partisan fights and uncivil behavior should soon be over. Adopting the Accountability Amendment can be the trigger that puts all of this in motion.

Accountability of Federal Officials is Within Reach

To render the federal, state, and local governments more effective in implementing constitutionally-determined public policy.

The Tentative Name of the New Organizational Unit

The "States' Compact" (or the "Compact")

Governance

The Compact will be governed by a Board consisting of one member chosen by each state legislature for a term to be determined. The Board may provide for the selection of committees, including an executive committee, consisting of fewer than all members.

Funding

The federal budget will fund the budget of the Compact: it is imperative that the funding mechanism provides for the Compact's independence from all federal entities, yet it must also provide for the means of congressional financial oversight.  One possible approach would be to set the funding as a percentage of the federal budget. If these procedures prove inadequate, the Board may request that the states provide supplementary funding.

Responsibility and Composition

The Compact's primary responsibility shall be enforcing the law against federal, state, and local governments and officials; thus, it must have a mini-Justice Department for this purpose. In addition, it will include those federal departments now charged with monitoring procedures within the government and a few additional groups that are exposed to possible political malfeasance by members of the executive or legislative branches of the federal government.

Examples of departments that would be transferred to the Compact are the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Election Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Congressional Budget Office, General Accountability Office, Freedom of Information Act Enforcement Agency, Federal Compensation Agency, Citizen Ombudsman Office, and the Office of Government Ethics.

For an orderly transition of the transfers, they shall be scheduled by the president over a period of twenty-four (24) months.

Means of Accomplishing the Purpose

The Compact will develop improved procedures for operation, popular participation, and punishment and cure of abuses and overreaches enacted by individuals and groups within and across all levels of government.

The Constitution requires the president to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." However, execution of the laws requires execution against members of the government itself as well as against the citizenry at large. Inherent in the former duty is a conflict of interest that promotes, or at least permits, unacceptable levels of waste and illegality within the government. The establishment of the Compact will resolve most of that conflict of interest by empowering the new Compact with the following functions:

  • Reviewing rules of each house of Congress for the sole purpose of ensuring adequate free and fair debate.

  • Approving and perhaps drafting administrative rules for executive departments and independent agencies.

  • Relocating government groups to parts of the country other than the Washington DC area, with a preference for metropolitan areas with average income levels below the national average.

  • Investigating and prosecuting crimes allegedly committed by government officials.

  • Providing oversight of the FBI.

  • Providing an administrative procedure for discipline (including potential removal) of any appointed government official for misconduct in, or neglect of, duties.

  • Periodically auditing and otherwise reviewing government programs to eliminate fraud, waste, and other abuse.

 

Arguments Supporting this Amendment

 

 

Our Magical Place

And where will this magical place be? Not in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the federal government.

That leads us to consider the states, where we could create a new organizational unit that is under the direct management of the states. This unit would enforce the law against government officials and be the home for agencies that are prone to abuse by partisan officials (like the IRS, FEC, and even the FBI). It would become a bastion of non-partisan activity. It would become the watchdog of the federal government.

Hyper-Partisanship

Organizations tend to adapt to and embrace the philosophy of their leaders, and with the careful selection of political centrists for the leadership positions of the Compact, it could quickly institutionalize a non-partisan atmosphere in this group. That would be a big plus for the republic and could be the first step toward a more civil and productive political culture.

If we ratify this amendment, we will enjoy the fruits of our glorious republic and will demonstrate to the world that democracy, properly structured, can succeed. And we will once again be the beacon of freedom for oppressed people around the world!

Additional Benefits Expected

The other benefits that would accrue to the country from implementing the Accountability Amendment are compelling and seemingly endless. Here are a few we can expect to see:

Culture Shock

The presence of this new, non-partisan unit ready to enforce the law will significantly impact the culture of Washington; officials will need to choose their actions more carefully and avoid risky steps that could bring them under the watchful eye of the SBI and perhaps its enforcement arm. This culture change will be far-reaching and highly beneficial.

Partisanship

Organizations tend to adapt to and embrace the philosophy of their leaders, and with the careful selection of political centrists for the leadership positions of the Compact, it could quickly institutionalize a non-partisan atmosphere in this group. This atmosphere, coupled with the broad powers given to the Compact, should mark the end of hyper-partisanship in Washington.

Special Prosecutors

With the responsibility for investigation and prosecution of alleged improprieties of government officials assigned to the SBI, the current practice of the DOJ appointing special prosecutors for investigations would be ended. The purpose of these appointments has been an attempt to make an investigation non-partisan, but with a partisan AG watching over the DOJ appointments, it is inevitable that the special prosecutor and staff would come with partisan backgrounds. This creates an appearance of bias from the inception of the investigation and diminishes the credibility of their work product. It often results in a less-than-satisfactory conclusion to an investigation.

The SBI could also produce indirect benefits by stopping partisan leaks of information to the press and reducing aggressive efforts to influence the course of an investigation through extravagant media coverage and continuous political messaging. The SBI could set the tone for media reporting through its pronouncements and actions; it could even consider introducing standards of performance for the fourth estate that would justify the media’s preference in the Constitution, introducing more accountability in the public square.

Intimidation of Citizens

In addition to its primary function of enforcing the law, the Compact can be a safe haven for federal departments and independent agencies that should be protected from partisan meddling by the president and members of Congress. Occasionally, this meddling has escalated to actual harassment of citizens, which is an abuse of government power that must be eliminated if we are to preserve our personal freedoms.

Civil Conduct

The Compact would change the culture of Washington by encouraging civil conduct by officials; it could work to eliminate personal attacks on opponents, bringing a breath of fresh air to political dialogue.

Transparency

The new Compact would have the power to promote transparency in government through improved rules of conduct for the branches of government and all federal bureaucracies. With the authority to impose penalties for improper conduct by federal officials, the Compact will command respect throughout the government.

Declare War on Scams

Studies indicate that hundreds of millions of dollars are lost every year to scam artists and criminals that prey on the ineptitude of the federal government. The Compact could greatly reduce those losses by establishing a group of professional investigators to review disbursement procedures and force appropriate changes by offending operational units. Today, Congress has this responsibility, but it has neither the skill set nor the time to devote to the effort. As a result, Congress pays lip service to the need for change but accomplishes little.

The occasional congressional voice that highlights government waste and ineptitude falls largely on deaf ears.

 

Author: Frank Keeney

Revised November 1, 2022

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A Convention of States

Every honest voice for reform should be heard and respected, with the best ideas selected for submission to the states for possible ratification. 

Statue of Liberty

Socialism or Freedom

The last 200 years have given us a ring-side seat at the workings of a number of different government forms. When we evaluate them, we do not need to rely on theory; we can observe the actual positive and negative results.

Numbers Game

Term Limits

Just as was done with the Executive Branch, we must now apply term limits to the judicial and legislative branches of the federal government. 

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