Independent RI Governor; previously Republican Senator (1999-2007)
Vindicated for opposing Alito, by Alito's bad votes
Q: Your views on Samuel Alito?s Supreme Court nomination?
LAFFEY: Alito served for 15 years at the federal bench and did a great job. After looking at his record and watching him testify, I certainly would have approved him. The difference between
Chafee and I on this issue is: 1) he has a litmus test for Supreme Court justices. I look at their character. Iíll look at their independence. Iíll look at their law school.. And 2) Chafee made himself completely irrelevant in the process. He was the
99th senator to make up his mind.
CHAFEE: I carefully followed the judiciary committee hearings to see how Alito answered some of these questions important to me and to the country, and then conferred with many experts of the interpretation of those
answers in that committee. I think Iíve been vindicated. In the last vote on executive powers, Alito was in the expansion of those powers and on the commerce clause as it relates to the Clean Water Act and a Michigan case heard by the Supreme Court.
Has concerns about Bush's expansion of executive power
Q: What is the proper oversight role of Congress and its judiciary? A: This is an important issue not just because Bush might be trying to expand these executive powers; itís who might come later. Itís the precedent set for who might come later and over
those 200 plus years of democracy here, weíve carefully guarded that balance of power between the legislative, judicial and executive branches. Weíre seeing the expansion of this executive power particular in wiretapping and Bush saying Iím commander in
chief, I can supersede the fourth amendment of the constitution. The fourth amendment says if you want to wiretap, search or seizure, get a warrant. Itís easy. Bush is saying no, under Article Two, I donít have to get a warrant. The issue of
detainees being held without charges down in Guantanamo Bay is another expansion of executive powers. Thirdly, the President signs the laws that that the Congress passes. But Bush puts a signing statement on it, saying I donít have to adhere to that law.
Voted YES on allowing some lobbyist gifts to Congress.
A motion to table (kill) an amendment to clarify the application of the gift rule to lobbyists. Voting NAY would define employees of lobbying companies as registered lobbyists and therefore subject to the gift ban. Voting YEA would apply the gift ban only to specific people who registered as lobbyists.
Proponents of the amendment say to vote NAY on the tabling motion because:
Using the term "registered lobbyist'' will create a huge loophole. The Ethics Committee treats the actual listed lobbyists as registered lobbyists, but not the organization.
So, for example, a company can give a Senator free tickets to a show or a baseball game, as long as a lobbyist doesn't actually offer or handle them. If the lobbyist's secretary makes the call, that would be permitted.
If these companies can still give gifts, we won't have a real lobbyist gift ban. We won't be able to look the American people in the eye and say, "We just banned gifts from lobbyists,'' because we didn't.
Opponents of the amendment say to vote YEA on the tabling motion because:
I can tolerate not accepting gifts from lobbyists. But this amendment goes a step further which is problematic.
For example, I am a big fan of McDonald's. What about the kids working behind the counter? Would they be considered registered lobbyists because McDonald's has lobbyists? Would I not be able to go to lunch with my longtime friend who owns 12 McDonald's?
Every company in the Fortune 1000 employs a lobbyist, either a private firm or an in-house lobbyist. Under this amendment, every person who works for Exxon, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and countless other businesses that employ lobbyists in Washington would be considered registered lobbyists.
If we want to ban the CEO and chairman of the board of the company from paying for a meal, or the head of a labor union, do that specifically. But this is so broadly developed I think it goes way beyond that.
Voted YES on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.
An amendment to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity. Voting YEA would establish the new office, and voting NAY would keep ethics investigations within the existing Senate Ethics Committee.
Proponents of the bill say to vote YEA because:
We have heard from the media about the bribes and scandals, but we have heard only silence from the House Ethics Committee. One of the greatest travesties of these scandals is not what Congress did, but what it didn't do.
The American people perceive the entire ethics system--House and Senate--to be broken. We can pass all the ethics reforms we want--gift bans, travel bans, lobbying restrictions--but none of them will make a difference if there isn't a nonpartisan, independent body that will help us enforce those laws.
The Office of Public Integrity established in this amendment would provide a voice that cannot be silenced by political pressures. It would have the power to initiate independent investigations
and bring its findings to the Ethics Committees in a transparent manner.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
The Constitution gave us not only the right but the duty to create our own rules, including the rules concerning our ethics. They are enforced internally by the Senate itself.
The decisions made under this amendment would be no different than right now. The final decision will be made by the Senate Ethics Committee. All this really does is find a way to further publicize that complaints have been made.
We have people accusing us almost daily of having done something wrong and publishing it through blogs and all that. I think we should be very careful in setting up another tool for these bloggers to create more charges against the Senate.
I cannot support an amendment that either replaces the Senate Ethics Committee or adds another layer to our already expensive and time-consuming process. I urge the Senate to defeat this provision.
Voted YES on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads.
Vote on passage of H.R. 2356; Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Shays-Meehan bill, House equivalent of McCain-Feingoldf bill). Vote to ban ďsoft moneyĒ contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
Voted YES on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration.
Motion to Table Schumer Amdt. No. 2937; To permit the use of a signature or personal mark for the purpose of verifying the identity of voters who register by mail, and for other purposes. Voting Yes would kill the amendment. The amendment would allow a signature to identify voters who register by mail, instead of requiring showing photo identification or other proof of residence before being allowed to vote.
Voted YES on banning campaign donations from unions & corporations.
Vote to ban soft money donations to political parties and forbid corporate general funds and union general funds from being spent on issue ads. The bill would increase the individual contribution limit to candidates from $1,000 to $2,000.
; vote number 2001-64
on Apr 2, 2001
Restrict lobbyist gifts & disclose lobbyist info on Internet.
Chafee co-sponsored restricting lobbyist gifts & disclosing info on Internet
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
Title I: Enhancing Lobbying Disclosure: Requires...
quarterly instead of semiannual filing of lobbying disclosures reports;
an annual report on registered lobbyists' contributions;
maintenance of lobbying information in an electronic database, available to the public free of charge over the Internet;
disclosure by registered lobbyists of all past executive and congressional employment; and
disclosure of registered lobbyists' payments or reimbursements for travel and related expenses of government officials.
Title II: Oversight of Ethics and Lobbying: annual report to Congress on lobbying registration and reports for compliance or noncompliance by lobbyists and their clients.
Title III: Slowing the Revolving Door - Extends from one to two years the ban on lobbying contacts by former
Members of Congress, and officers of the legislative branch; and prohibits former Congressional employees, within one year after leaving office, from making lobbying contacts with a Member or employee of Congress.
Title IV: Ban on Provision of Gifts or Travel by Lobbyists in Violation of the Rules of Congress: Prohibits a registered lobbyist from making a gift or providing travel to a Member or employee of Congress, unless the gift or travel may be accepted under the rules of the House or the Senate.
Title V: Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress Act of 2006 - Establishes a Commission to report to Congress on congressional ethics requirements and to recommend improvements to ethical safeguards.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs; Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar No. 369; never came to a vote.
Source: Lobbying Transparency & Accountability Act (S.2128/H.R.4975) 05-S2128 on Dec 16, 2005
Reduce federal government size & scope, including military.
Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:
The federal government must reduce its size and scope, and cede certain federally operated policies and services to the states and private sector that are better equipped to handle them. One way to accomplish this would be to limit growth of government spending at or even below the inflation rate. Long-term economic growth is dependent upon sustained federal discipline. We believe this is the time to carefully assess both our domestic discretionary and our military commitments. In both areas, we face a potential fiscal imbalance between our program commitments and our available resources. Perhaps neither the Congress nor the American people fully appreciate the impact of budget decisions in these areas. We owe it to the nation and its future to undertake an honest dialogue regarding the implications of these decisions on the state, local and private sectors.
Source: Republican Main St. Partnership Issue Paper: Fiscal Policy 98-RMSP4 on Sep 9, 1998