Following news reports that at least 12 detainees previously held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center have been implicated in attacks on and in the deaths of American citizens, Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06), a Naval Reserve Officer who served at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center during his active duty service, responded:
“We have known that large numbers of released detainees return to the terrorism and the admission by the Obama administration that at least six Americans have been killed at the hands of released detainees starkly demonstrates the danger of putting terrorists back into circulation. These numbers almost assuredly do not include American deaths that occurred at the hands of units commanded by released detainees, such as Mullah Zakir. Nor do the numbers include the death and destruction that released detainees have visited upon the local civilian populations. The bottom line is that, by releasing unrepentant terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration is contributing to the security threats that U.S. personnel and our allies face on a daily basis.”
DeSantis and Sen. Tom Cotton (AR) previously introduced the Guantanamo Bay Recidivism Prevention Act which would prohibit foreign assistance if a country received a detainee from the Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay on or after February 1, 2015, and the detainee subsequently appeared on the administration’s detainee recidivist report (as defined by Section 319 of Public Law 111 – 32).Read More
Washington, DC – Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-06) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) today introduced a resolution to recognize July 15, 2016 as Sister Cities International Day. Sister Cities International serves as the national membership organization for 570 member communities with 2,300 partnerships in 150 countries on six continents. Celebrating their 60th anniversary, Sister Cities International’s mission is to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time.”
“The partnerships developed by Sister Cities International have helped foster peace by cultivating connections between different cultures,” DeSantis said. “Partnering our communities with international cities provides the opportunity to develop relationships and projects that benefit our relations with people in foreign countries. For the past 60 years, Sister Cities International has had a positive impact on my district and beyond, and I am proud to introduce this resolution to designate July 15, 2016 as Sister Cities International Day.”
St. Augustine, located in DeSantis’ congressional district, currently holds partnerships with George-Town, Great Exuma, Bahamas; The Cartagena de Indias, Colombia; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Aviles, Spain and Ciudadella de Menorca, Spain. Volusia County currently holds partnerships with Campeche, Mexico; Bayonne, France; and Diamantina, Brazil.
Mary Kane, President and CEO of Sister Cities International, stated, “The concept of citizen and people-to-people exchange has always been an essential first step to building mutual understanding and respect between nations and their citizens. As we’ve seen time and again in the years since Sister Cities International was founded, governments (and even countries) come and go, but cities and their people remain. We hope this global day will help more people understand the important role that everyone plays in making this world a more peaceful place.”Read More
Last week the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on whether to impeach Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen for obstructing justice, providing false testimony to Congress, disregarding Congressional subpoenas, and stonewalling a congressional investigation.
Civil servants like Mr. Koskinen have historically been held to a higher standard than private citizens because they have fiduciary obligations to the public. Under Mr. Koskinen’s leadership, the IRS has breached these basic fiduciary responsibilities.
Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 65 that the power to impeach a civil servant would protect the public against “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” At nearly every turn, Koskinen both abused his power and violated the public’s trust in the IRS.
For years, the IRS abused its far-reaching power to systematically target groups based on their political views—a fundamental violation of American citizens’ First Amendment rights.
In response to mass public outcry over this abuse of power, Congress called Lois Lerner, then-director of the IRS’s exempt-organizations unit, to explain her agency’s actions. Instead, she pled the Fifth Amendment.
On August 2, 2013, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a subpoena to Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, demanding that all communications sent or received by Lois Lerner be preserved. Meanwhile, multiple Congressional investigations into corruption at the IRS were taking place. President Obama said new leadership was needed that would “help restore confidence going forward.”
Amidst the controversy, John Koskinen was brought on as the new commissioner to clean house and reform the scandal-ridden agency.
Following Koskinen’s confirmation by the Senate, on February 14, 2014, the Oversight Committee reissued the original subpoena to him, reaffirming the request to preserve all of Lois Lerner’s correspondence. The IRS’s Chief Technology Office also issued a preservation order instructing employees not to destroy any emails or back-up tapes.
Yet, despite the Congressional subpoena and do-not-destroy order, the IRS inspector general found that the IRS employees in Martinsburg, West Virginia erased 422 backup tapes, destroying as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner’s communications.
Rather than restore the American peoples’ confidence in the agency, Commissioner Koskinen instead stonewalled Congress’ investigation, provided false testimony under oath, disregarded multiple subpoenas and was complicit in allowing evidence to be destroyed.
And then Mr. Koskinen chose to deliberately keep Congress in the dark.
In February of 2014, the Commissioner’s counsel Kate Duval identified a gap in Lerner’s emails. She learned several days later that the gap was a result of a 2011 hard drive crash. Mr. Koskinen was made aware of these missing emails, yet he withheld the information from Congress for four months until June 13, 2014. He testified under oath four times before Congress during that 4-month period saying he would turn over all of Lerner’s emails, making no mention of the fact that the bulk of them had been “lost.”
Making matters worse, the IRS waited for a Friday news dump to admit in the seventh page of the third attachment to a letter sent to the Senate Finance Committee that many of Lerner’s emails had been lost.
Commissioner Koskinen again provided false testimony, claiming under oath that he had “confirmed” the information on the bulk of the back-up tapes was unrecoverable. Yet an inspector general found that of the 1,000 back-up tapes, approximately 700 hadn’t been erased and were in fact recoverable.
The inspector general also revealed that Koskinen’s staff hadn’t even bothered to search Lois Lerner’s email server, BlackBerry, or the Martinsburg, West Virginia facility housing the back-up tapes.
For years, the IRS Commissioner obstructed congressional oversight efforts, obfuscated justice, and provided false testimony under oath. That alone would meet the Federalist Papers’ standard for impeachment of a civil servant: “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” But the corruption at the IRS under Commissioner Koskinen’s leadership runs much deeper.
Since the revelation that the IRS systematically targeted conservatives for years based on their beliefs, the agency—under Koskinen’s watch—has done virtually nothing to reform internal protocol to ensure that every Americans’ First Amendment rights are protected.
A Government Accountability Office report found that no significant measures have been implemented to ensure that civil servants at the IRS don’t unlawfully target Americans based on their political or religious views.
Congress has the duty to hold Commissioner Koskinen accountable for failing to live up to his obligations of service to the American people. As even President Obama has said, we must help restore confidence going forward.
Republican Jim Jordan represents Ohio's Fourth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Republican Ron DeSantis represents Florida's 6th district in the U.S. House of RepresentativesRead More
Washington, DC – The House tonight adopted a Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06) amendment to H.R. 5055, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which prohibits funds from being used to purchase heavy water from Iran. DeSantis issued the following statement:
“The Obama Administration has continually offered gratuitous concessions to Iran that go beyond even the major unilateral concessions contained in the Iran deal. Purchasing heavy water from Iran is not required by the deal and will infuse even more cash into the coffers of the Iranian regime. This amendment is simple: we should not use taxpayer dollars to subsidize Iran’s nuclear activities through the purchase of heavy water.”Read More
Washington, DC – The Department of State inspector general (IG) has determined that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “did not comply with the department's policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act” by not properly preserving e-mails on her personal server. Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06) issued the following statement:
“The inspector general's report confirming that Secretary Clinton flouted federal records laws is further evidence that she put her own interests before her duties to the law and national security through her use of an unsecured, private email server. Secretary Clinton doesn't believe she has to follow the same rules as everyone else and, as the IG report suggests, this indifference may have opened up Clinton's communications to interception, as her personal server needed to be shut down in 2011 to combat persistent hacking attempts. I urge the State Department to undertake measures to ensure compliance with the law and appropriately protect its communications."Read More
Washington, DC – Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06), a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary this morning outlining the reasons why Congress should move forward on impeaching Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen. Watch his opening statement here.
Remarks as delivered: “Although I didn’t know it at the time, the first exposure I had to the IRS targeting scandal occurred long before that day in May 2013 when Lois Lerner publicly revealed the existence of improper targeting by the IRS. That she did this by infamously planting a question at a legal conference in order to preempt a forthcoming IG report was a clear indication that the IRS had improperly treated American citizens who were doing nothing more than seeking to exercise their first amendment rights.
Once this news broke, I immediately thought back to the previous year -- I was not a member of this body, I was running for office for the first time and, as is customary in campaigns, I made a point to speak to as many groups as I could find. In one instance, the leaders of one group dedicated to educating their fellow Americans on the virtues of constitutional government grew apprehensive when I showed up and requested to speak. As a candidate for office, they explained, my speaking before the group could cause them problems with the IRS, an agency that they felt had mistreated their group by refusing to grant them tax-exempt status.
I was in disbelief. It seemed to me that these folks were being paranoid. Why would the IRS care about a small group seeking tax-exempt status?
Turned out, my reaction was wrong and there was good reason to be concerned about the behavior of the IRS, and I’ve always thought about that as we’ve done this investigation.
As a member of the Oversight Committee, I joined my colleagues in seeking to ascertain the truth about the conduct of the IRS and its employees like Lois Lerner. Chairman Chaffetz has done a good job outlining the extent to which the IRS, under Commissioner John Koskinen, has stonewalled and obstructed attempts by Congress to find out the truth about the conduct of the IRS:
Koskinen pledged to be transparent and to alert Congress and the American people about problems with the investigation as soon as he knew about them, yet he failed to alert the Congress about the gap discovered in Lerner's emails for four months.
Koskinen testified that every email had been preserved since the start of the investigation, yet the IRS destroyed over 400 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner's emails in March of 2014. These emails, of course, were the subject of an internal preservation order and two congressional subpoenas.
Koskinen testified that the backup tapes from 2011 had been recycled pursuant to normal IRS policy, yet the 400 backup tapes weren't destroyed until March of 2014. Moreover, the inspector general was able, by doing a cursory investigation, to identify some backup tapes that had not been recycled.
Koskinen testified that the IRS had gone to "great lengths" to make sure that all emails were produced, but as the Chairman pointed out, yet it failed to even look at Lerner's mobile devices, the email server, the backup email server, the loaner laptop, and the IRS backup tapes -- all of which were examined by the inspector general.
In this matter there really is no dispute about the facts: the IRS destroyed up to 24,000 of Lois Lerner's emails under two subpoenas, Commissioner Koskinen made several statements in testimony before Congress that are false, the IRS failed to produce all of the emails it had in its possession, as well as failing to do basic due diligence by not looking in obvious places for Lerner's emails. This is cut and dry.
This sorry train of false statements and dereliction of duty represents an affront to the authority of this house. The American people had a right to get the facts regarding the IRS targeting, and the IRS had a duty to comply with the congressional investigation. Instead, the IRS stonewalled. As thousands of emails have been destroyed, the American people may very well never get the entire truth as it relates to this scandal.
Now it would be unthinkable for a taxpayer to treat an IRS audit the way that the IRS has treated the congressional investigation. If a taxpayer destroyed documents subject to a summons by the IRS, the taxpayer would be in a world of hurt. If a taxpayer made false statements to the IRS in response to an investigation, it is safe to say that the taxpayer would not get away with it. If a taxpayer shirked basic compliance with an IRS investigation, it's a good bet that the investigation would not simply end.
So the question is: is it acceptable for the head of one of the powerful agencies in government to operate under a lower standard of acceptable conduct than that which is applied to the taxpayers the Commissioner is charged with auditing?
I have no doubt that American taxpayers find such an arrangement to be unacceptable.
Surely, this House should also find it unacceptable. As of today, not a single individual has been held accountable in any real way for what happened with the IRS. If Commissioner Koskinen can get away with his conduct, then other executive branch agencies will have a blue print of how to stymie the Congress when it conducts legitimate oversight. This will further erode the power of the Congress, which is arguably at its historical nadir.
The Constitution contains mechanisms for self-defense that can be used to check abuses by civil officers in the executive branch. We in this body should use them. This is a matter of fairness for the American people, accountability for the executive branch, and self-respect for this institution.”
Washington, DC – The House today adopted two amendments to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offered by Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06), a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve. These amendments will strengthen national security and bolster our military forces.
“These amendments will enhance our military and protect our national security,” DeSantis said. “Tackling sexual assault within the military is important for ensuring strong unit cohesion and a capable fighting force, and the amendment passed will go a long way to ensuring that these prosecutions are handled by experienced counsel. Preventing the Obama administration from granting additional concessions to the Cuban military is also important, as the beneficiaries in the change in Cuba policy have been the Castro brothers and Cuban military and intelligence services. The U.S. shouldn’t be working with a Cuban military establishment that has been an instrument of anti-American and rogue activities.”
The following amendments were adopted:
This amendment will help commanders in the Army and Air Force better ensure good order and discipline within the ranks – including better prosecution of sexual assault cases – by adopting limited, career litigation tracks that permit military judge advocates to fill Uniform Code of Military Justice-related billets for the bulk of their careers. This amendment had previously been introduced as the Justice for Victims of Military Sexual Assault Act by DeSantis and Rep. Ryan Zinke (MT). You may find their op-ed in The Hill outlining the importance of establishing career tracks for JAGs here.
Prohibits funds for any bilateral military-to-military contact, cooperation, or related security conferences between the Governments of the United States and Cuba until the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, certify to the appropriate congressional committees and Congress that the anti-American posture of the Castro regime has undergone a material change.
Washington, DC – Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06), a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, released the following statement regarding the committee’s decision to hold hearings examining misconduct by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen:
“A taxpayer could never get away with stonewalling an IRS audit in the same way that the IRS has stonewalled Congress regarding the IRS targeting scandal. Congress must stand up for the American people and hold wayward bureaucrats like John Koskinen accountable; it is intolerable for the head of this powerful agency to be allowed to operate under a lower standard of acceptable conduct than that which is applied to the taxpayers that the agency is charged with auditing. IRS Commissioner Koskinen has continually stonewalled the congressional investigation into the targeting scandal by failing to testify truthfully, refusing basic compliance, and allowing 24,000 of Lois Lerner's emails that had been subpoenaed by Congress to be destroyed. Koskinen has violated the public’s trust."
Last July, DeSantis and Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04) were two of the first members to call for Koskinen’s impeachment, outlining the reasons in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Click here to read the op-ed.Read More
Washington, DC – Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06) is calling on Congress to take action on the necessary measures to combat the Zika threat. DeSantis has co-sponsored the Zika Eradication and Good Government Act, introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26).
“The spread of the Zika virus represents a serious public health challenge to which Congress should respond,” DeSantis said. “To combat this threat, I cosponsored Rep. Carlos Curbelo's Zika Eradication and Good Government Act and am committed to doing what it takes to protect the American people. Congress should take up this issue as soon as possible.”Read More
Washington, DC – Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06), who has prosecuted child exploitation cases in the federal and military systems, today introduced the Targeting Child Predators Act in order to strengthen the ability of law enforcement to bring child predators to justice.
“Investigations targeting child predators should not yield an inch when it comes to bringing these predators to justice,” DeSantis said. “These suspects cannot be given the opportunity to destroy evidence and cover their tracks once law enforcement starts to investigate their nefarious activity. The Targeting Child Predators Act is a sensible reform that ensures that Internet Service Providers provide law enforcement a limited window of time to investigate before notifying the suspected child predator of the existence of a lawfully-issued subpoena. This will help make sure that these online predators are swiftly prosecuted and that our children are protected."
Law enforcement can often obtain the IP address of a suspected child predator and then subpoena Internet Service Providers (ISP) for the user information attached to the IP address. ISPs may then inform the user of the law enforcement inquiry, enabling suspected child predators to wipe clean their accounts and delete potential evidence. The Targeting Child Predators Act would require that Internet Service Providers, in the case of child exploitation, wait 180 days prior to disclosing to a specific user that their information was requested by law enforcement.
Original cosponsors include Reps. Mike Bishop (MI-08), Steve Chabot (OH-01), Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Trent Franks (AZ-08), Trey Gowdy (SC-04), Steve King (IA-04), Scott Peters (CA-52), John Ratcliffe (TX-04), Lamar Smith (TX-21), and Mimi Walters (CA-45).
Supporting organizations include the National Association of Police Organizations and the National District Attorneys Association.Read More
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On January 3, 2013, Ron DeSantis was sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives as the federal representative for Florida’s sixth congressional district, which encompasses St. Johns and Flagler counties, as well as large portions of Volusia and Putnam counties.
A native Floridian with blue collar roots, Ron worked his way through Yale University, where he earned a bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, and was the captain of the varsity baseball team. He also graduated with honors from Harvard Law School.
While at Harvard, Ron earned a commission in the United States Navy as a JAG officer. During his active duty service, he served as a military prosecutor, supported operations at the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and deployed to Iraq during the 2007 troop surge as an advisor to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander in support of the SEAL mission in Iraq. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal (meritorious service) and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
He has also served as a federal prosecutor, prosecuting a wide range of cases involving offenses such as child exploitation, fraud, and interference with military air navigation.
He has written on constitutional first principles in various outlets and in his book, Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama.
Ron lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL with his wife, Casey Black DeSantis, an Emmy award-winning television host. He is currently an officer in the U.S. Navy reserve.
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