Jul 25 2013

Senator Blunt Fights To Empower Americans, Stop Government Abuse

Introduces Legislation To Empower Citizens, Hold Government Accountable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) introduced the “Citizen Empowerment Act” (CEA) today to restore Americans’ trust in government and authorize people to fight back against bureaucratic overreach by expanding provisions included in current law that allow individuals to record conversations with executive agency employees. U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins (Kans.) introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

In May 2013, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials admitted to targeting conservative organizations and other Americans – an issue that Blunt recently addressed in a Daily Caller op-ed. Meanwhile, burdensome executive regulations of all kinds have created unprecedented burdens on many businesses and individuals who are simply trying to comply with the law in good faith.

“Americans need less government intrusion in their lives – not more,” said Blunt. “An imbalance of power has developed between American citizens and government officials, and that balance needs to be restored. It’s time we give citizens the tools to even the playing field and get the federal government off their backs.”

As part of his efforts to stop government abuse, Blunt has also joined U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (Penn.) to introduce the “Government Employee Accountability Act” in the Senate this week. This bill would give executive agencies the mechanisms they need to effectively deal with Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, and provide Congress with more oversight.

This initiative follows a report by released by the General Services Administration (GSA) Inspector General in April 2012, which revealed extravagant spending, waste, and mismanagement by senior GSA employees, including more than $822,000 spent on a Las Vegas conference. The bill also addresses concerns surrounding Lois Lerner, the IRS's former director of tax-exempt organizations, who remains at the center of the IRS targeting scandal and continues to receive pay while on administrative leave from the agency.

Background on the Citizen Empowerment Act (CEA):

  • Current federal law only allows individuals to record conversations with IRS officials. The CEA would expand that right to any federal executive agency employee.
  • Individuals would no longer be required to provide 10 days advance notice to IRS employees or any other federal employees regarding their intent to record a conversation.
  • Under the bill, individuals will be enabled to record telephone or in-person conversations. Currently, individuals can only record in-person interviews.
  • Executive agency employees will be required under CEA to inform Americans about their right to record the conversation.
  • Conversations could be recorded at any stage of the investigation. Current federal law only allows Americans to record conversations during the initial stages of the investigation.

Background on the Government Employee Accountability Act:

  • Gives agency officials the authority to remove SES employees on the spot.
  • Creates an option for investigative leave with or without pay for 90 days.
  • Requires administrators to report back to Congress every 45 days.
  • Requires definitive action at the end of the 90 day investigative leave period, at which time the agency must either: 1.) Remove the employee, 2.) Suspend the employee without pay, or 3.) Reinstate or restore employee to duty.
  • Employees retain existing due process rights, including the right to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
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