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Outsourcing Congress

News reports that Representative Pete Stark of California has been claiming his residence in Maryland as his primary residence for tax purposes shows another example of outsourcing.  This time, the folks in his district have decided to outsource their legislative seat to a man who makes two trips a month back to the home district, but for all other intents and purposes is a resident of the state of Maryland.

The US Constitution, Article 2, sections 1 and 2 are very clear on the requirements of eligibility to serve in Congress.  The most important parts are that the members must meet the qualifications to serve in the ‘most numerous’ House of the State Legislature, and that the member be an inhabitant of the state for which he is elected.  Using the qualifications from the California Constitution, Article 4, Section 2(c), the representative must have been an inhabitant of California for at least a year, and a US citizen for at least 3 years to qualify as an elected representative of the State district.

Members of Congress and the Senate have a difficult job, which requires them to be in Washington a great deal of time.  No one begrudges them the right to a house of their choice while they serve their constituents. 

Representative Stark, however, seems to have crossed a line here, and he should be held accountable.  If his ruse is to avoid paying $3,800 per year in taxes, what does that say about his character?  If the voters in his district are so apathetic as to continue this arrangement, what does it say about them?  They evidently only need a professional lobbyist to represent them, because that’s essentially what he has become.

If he has become such an insider that he only barely visits his district and is not eligible to vote there, how does he meet the Constitutional test?  Why isn’t someone taking action?

Speaker Pelosi should add Mr. Stark to the long line of things to look into after Reps Jefferson, Franks and Rangel.  

If the members of Congress will not act in ways that respect their role in the nation of laws that we strive to be, how can they expect the citizens to do otherwise?

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