Mike Kelly

Mike Kelly

PENNSYLVANIA's 3rd DISTRICT

Rep. Kelly Presents 3rd District Community Champion Award to Yvonne Clark of New Castle

2015/05/28

Rep. Kelly with Yvonne Clark, Director of Walker’s Neighborhood House in Lawrence County

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) presented the 3rd District Community Champion Award for the second quarter of 2015 to Yvonne Clark, Director of Walker’s Neighborhood House in Lawrence County, yesterday morning at St. John United Holy Church in New Castle, PA.

Excerpts of Rep. Kelly’s official commendation for Mrs. Clark:

“Yvonne, the Director of Walker’s Neighborhood House in Lawrence County, has served both her family and community with excellence, leaving a legacy of compassion and integrity behind her that has impacted many.

“In 1979, Yvonne enrolled in the Pittsburgh Beauty Academy in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania and graduated with honors shortly thereafter. Under the mentorship of a respected and accomplished local salon-owner, Yvonne learned the skills of the trade and eventually opened her own salon in 1984. When health issues demanded a change of course, Yvonne worked as a family service worker and then a job coach before returning to school at Midwestern Baptist School of Ministry. Again, she graduated with honors and received her Associate’s Degree in Women’s Ministry in 2006. Additionally, valuing her role as mother and grandmother, Yvonne became the primary caregiver for her three grandchildren when her daughter was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“It was around this time that Walker’s Neighborhood House, a division of the Gussie M. Walker Community Outreach Organization, was established. The mission of this after-school program is to empower youth and families to be the best they can be by obtaining a better education, while also learning that through God all things are possible. By providing both tutoring and structured recreational opportunities for local youth in an area where 85% of the population is considered low-income, Walker’s Neighborhood House is breathing life back into a community and empowering our next generation of leaders. Under Yvonne’s devoted and impassioned leadership, over 2,500 students have walked through its doors and left changed for the better.

“Whether serving her family or her community, Yvonne has shown herself to be a leader in the truest sense of the word and a role model for the many that are privileged to know her. Furthermore, her dedication to directing the St. John United Holy Church Choir for thirty-five years and being a member of the praise team for fifteen gives evidence to the core Christian values that have informed her experiences and given strength when strength was needed along her journey. On behalf of many, I would like to express sincere gratitude and appreciation to Mrs. Yvonne Clark, a true Community Champion.”

Photos from yesterday’s award ceremony can be viewed here.

BACKGROUND: The 3rd District Community Champion Award is a quarterly citation created by the Office of U.S. Representative Mike Kelly in January 2015 to recognize and thank service-minded individuals throughout Pennsylvania's Third Congressional District for selfless and significant contributions to their surrounding communities. Each winner is given an official award plaque from Rep. Kelly’s office, a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol building, and a statement of congratulations entered into the official congressional record.

Last quarter’s award was presented to Sally Kohler of Erie County. Read more about it here and here.

 

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Rep. Kelly to Present Quarterly “3rd District Community Champion Award” to Lawrence County Resident

2015/05/26

Yvonne Clark of New Castle to receive award for exceptional service to young students throughout area

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) will present the 3rd District Community Champion Award for the second quarter of 2015 to Yvonne Clark, Director of Walker’s Neighborhood House in Lawrence County, tomorrow morning at St. John United Holy Church in New Castle, PA.

WHAT: An award presentation ceremony

WHO:   Representative Mike Kelly — Host; presenter of award Yvonne Clark — Director, Walker’s Neighborhood House in Lawrence County; 3rd District Community Champion Award recipient

WHEN: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 | 9:30 AM

WHERE: St. John United Holy Church (basement) 1207 Moravia Street, New Castle, PA 16101 

NOTE: Walker's Neighborhood House is a division of the Gussie M. Walker Community Outreach Organization that provides tutoring and mentoring after-school services for the youth of the New Castle Area. The text of Rep. Kelly’s official commendation for Mrs. Clark, who has led the organization since 2006, can be read here.

BACKGROUND: The 3rd District Community Champion Award is a quarterly citation created by the Office of U.S. Representative Mike Kelly in January 2015 to recognize and thank service-minded individuals throughout Pennsylvania's Third Congressional District for selfless and significant contributions to their surrounding communities. Each winner is given an official award plaque from Rep. Kelly’s office, a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol building, and a statement of congratulations entered into the official congressional record.

Last quarter’s award was presented to Sally Kohler of Erie County. Read more about it here and here.

 

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TONIGHT: Rep. Kelly to Host Live Tele-Town Hall for Constituents on Social Security Issues

2015/05/26

Toll-free call will feature specialist from Social Security Administration

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) will soon host a special toll-free telephone town hall meeting for constituents of the Third District to communicate with a liaison from the Social Security Administration regarding questions about their Social Security benefits.

WHAT: A free tele-town hall hosted by Rep. Kelly to discuss Social Security issues

WHO: Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03)           With special guest:           John Johnston — Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration

WHEN: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

TIME: 5:45 PM – 7:15 PM

CALL-IN INFORMATION: To participate, dial 877-228-2184 and enter event ID 19013 at the time of the event.

 

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Rep. Kelly Congratulates 3rd District’s 2015 National Art Competition Winners

2015/05/21

Rep. Kelly with First Place winner Kacie Beatty of Hickory High School in Hermitage

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) issued the following statement today congratulating the winners of the 2015 Congressional Art Competition from Pennsylvania’s Third District. The annual “Artistic Discovery” Art Competition is a nationwide event, sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives, enabling high school students throughout the United States to showcase their artistic abilities and earn recognition for their efforts.

“I had a wonderful time at Slippery Rock University last weekend celebrating the visual arts and honoring the abilities of each student who participated in this esteemed competition. I once again offer my heartfelt congratulations to all of the young artists who deserve enormous credit for putting their talents on display. In particular, I congratulate Kacie Beatty of Hermitage for winning the First Place prize and look forward to honoring her in our nation’s capital. As I view all the winning artwork in my office and on my way to vote, I’ll be happily reminded of the people I am so proud to serve.”

NOTE: This year’s contest participants were honored during the annual awards ceremony on May 16, 2015, hosted by Slippery Rock University, which Rep. Kelly personally attended. The first place winner was offered two round-trip plane tickets provided by Southwest Airlines to Washington, D.C. in order to attend the National Art Competition Ceremony, as well as the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Building where her artwork will be showcased for one full year. The artwork of the second and third place awardees, as well as that of the honorable mention, will be displayed in Rep. Kelly’s Washington, D.C. office.

This year’s winners are as follows:

First Place: Kacie Beatty, Hickory High School — “Riding on the Dark SideSecond Place: Abby Mercatoris-Morrison, Villa Maria Academy — “Defying GravityThird Place: Hannah Lujbli, Villa Maria Academy — “Some Call it LoveHonorable Mention: Sarah Hornick, Villa Maria Academy — “Sherlock

 

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Rep. Kelly Blasts Obama Administration’s ‘Dangerous’ Implementation of Obamacare at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing

2015/05/20

Questions how private sector can operate when president can unilaterally change, not enforce laws

Rep. Kelly: ‘It’s not about the health care law. It’s about the health care of our Constitution.’

WATCH HERE

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – participated in this morning’s hearing by the Subcommittee on Oversight on the use of administrative actions in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Highlights of Rep. Kelly’s remarks:

“This really has nothing to do with the health care law, but it does have to do with the health care of our Constitution, and I think this is the thing that probably bothers us more than anything else.”  

“There’s an old saying out and it goes something like this: ‘If you can’t convince them, confuse them.’  And I’ve looked at what’s happened. … I’m an automobile dealer, and I have to follow laws as they are written. I don’t have the ability to say, ‘You know what? I don’t particularly care for this part of the law so I’m just not going to follow that.’”

“Here’s another law that I don’t know what [those who wrote it] were thinking about. Obviously they didn’t look far enough, and they certainly didn’t look at the private sector, but then again, I have to run a profitable business to stay in business and they don’t.” 

“It is so difficult for those of us in the private sector to look at this and to think that this president or any future president can decide at his whim what parts of a law he is going to enforce or not enforce. So the question then becomes how do you prepare a business model when the rules change every day?”

“My question is: Why does this president start to establish a precedent that is so dangerous for every president to follow? Because law is based on precedent. And if we can go back in the future and say, ‘Yeah, but let me tell you how it happened back when we had the Affordable Care Act, and this is what we decided to do,’ how in the world would anybody living in this country look at any law and really look at it as a law … if it’s not going to be enforced?”

“If [Obamacare]’s not enforced, it truly is just words on paper. It means absolutely nothing."

Rep. Kelly: “Let me just ask you one question, because maybe there’s some confusion in the Office of the President, but what did the president do before he was elected president? My understanding is that he came from the academic world, right?”

Grace-Marie Turner, President, The Galen Institute: “Constitutional law instructor at the University of Chicago.”

Rep. Kelly: “So there really wouldn’t be much cloudiness on his idea of what the Constitution is or what it contains?” I thank you all for being here.”

NOTE: In February 2014, Rep. Kelly authored and submitted a letter co-signed by 20 Members of Congress to then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an explanation of the constitutional authority under which the Obama administration intends to carry out President Obama’s pledge to use his “pen” and “phone” to “take executive actions and administrative actions” affecting existing laws without congressional involvement. The inquiry specifically pertained to the administration’s repeated decision to unilaterally halt the implementation of the employer mandate provision of Obamacare.

 

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Rep. Kelly Highlights Pro-Jobs Restaurant Bill in Op-Ed for Roll Call

2015/05/20

Part of special policy feature on food & nutrition

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – authored a guest opinion piece published today in Roll Call to highlight the economic benefits of his Restaurant and Retail Jobs and Growth Act (H.R. 765), which he introduced in the House of Representatives on February 5, 2015.

Helping Restaurants Serve Up Jobs

By Rep. Mike Kelly

When it comes to the universality of food, the late Luciano Pavarotti perhaps put it best: “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

In other words, everybody — no matter who they are, or where they are from, or what they believe — eats. It’s the ultimate “common ground.”

In America, 130 million people do their eating at a million different restaurant locations every single day, which, of course, translates into an awful lot of business, entrepreneurship and employment.

The Restaurant and Retail Jobs and Growth Act (HR 765), which I’ve introduced over the past two Congresses with bipartisan support, recognizes the inherent economic horsepower behind these enterprises and makes it easier for them to expand and create more job opportunities for more Americans.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry already employees 14 million people nationwide — 10 percent of our nation’s entire workforce. This includes more than 557,000 men and women in my home state of Pennsylvania and 21,000 people in the district I’m honored to represent.

These are enormous figures, with enormous potential to grow even larger. Public policy makers should be staunchly on food service’s side. Unfortunately, our nation’s notoriously outdated tax code is not.

Under the current code, restaurants are forced to operate on a 39-year tax depreciation schedule, which means write-offs for the costs of critical improvements to their establishments have to reflect expected wear and tear accumulated over nearly two generations. In an industry where wear and tear occurs quickly and constantly, this is absurd.

Let’s face it: Any venue where a massive amount of food is delivered, unpacked, cooked, served and eaten on a daily basis is guaranteed to require frequent refurbishment in order to keep attracting business. With millions of Americans visiting restaurants every day, a timely depreciation schedule is crucial.

The chief financial officer of Eat’n Park Hospitality Group recently stated that “because of the wear and tear a public restaurant incurs, we will be out of business very quickly if we aren’t continually refreshing and reinvesting in our businesses. A 39-year depreciation schedule in the restaurant industry simply is not aligned with real world spending practices.”

Think about it: Which diner would you rather visit — the one with ripped seats, stained furniture and crumbling walls, or the one that looks clean, new and welcoming?

The answer is easy, and thus an onerously long depreciation schedule can spell the demise of an establishment — and the jobs it provides — regardless of the quality of its food. On the flip side, a write-off schedule that reliably reflects a restaurant’s needs and operations can help eateries better accommodate their customers and flourish.

That is why repeated congressional action has allowed restaurants to operate on a temporary 15-year depreciation schedule, which more closely matches economic reality but is still unpredictable and unstable. My bill would make the 15-year schedule permanent.

The National Restaurant Association believes that “making the 15-year depreciation provisions permanent provides restaurateurs with the predictability and additional cash flow needed to plan for future investments.” The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association claims such tax certainty and new cash “will allow restaurant owners to reinvest in their businesses and workforce.”

The extra dollars in savings would also have a significant ripple effect beyond just restaurants, since the money would necessarily reach architectural design firms, construction companies, building material suppliers and other development-related services throughout the nation.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, every dollar spent in the construction industry generates an additional $2.39 in spending in the rest of the economy. In 2011 alone, restaurants spent more than $6 billion on new construction, which led to the creation of approximately 172,000 new jobs.

Especially as our economy continues to underperform, it is vital that proven job-creating engines such as restaurants have the certainty they need to invest, grow and put more Americans back to work. Granting long-term tax stability to our nation’s bistros, diners, pubs, taverns and drive-throughs will help their surrounding communities thrive and spawn surefire economic growth from coast to coast.

 

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House Passes National Defense Bill with Kelly Amendment to Ban Funding for UN Arms Trade Treaty

2015/05/15

Annual amendment is strongest version to date; bans funding for ATT secretariat to “implement” treaty; protects Americans from domestic prosecution under treaty

WATCH HERE

WASHINGTON — Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, which fully funds the United States Armed Forces and ensures that American troops have all the resources required to successfully defend the homeland and achieve their missions abroad. The legislation once again included an amendment introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) to continue the annual ban on funding by the Department of Defense for the implementation of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The amendment is the strongest version to date, updating the language of Rep. Kelly’s previous amendments that were enacted into law in previous NDAAs.

Rep. Kelly’s floor speech:

“I rise in strong support of my amendment to H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 NDAA, to renew a one-year ban on the Obama administration from using any Department of Defense funds to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

“This amendment updates and strengthens the language of my amendments that were enacted into law in previous NDAAs.

“First, my amendment explicitly forbids the use of DoD funds to facilitate domestic prosecutions of individual Americans.

“This is a real danger because the Obama administration has already engaged in domestic prosecutions of individuals using treaties. This is unacceptable.

“Second, my amendment specifically bans the use of DoD funds for an ATT secretariat, created for ‘effectively implementing’ the ATT according to the treaty’s supporters.

“Appallingly, ATT backers seek to put the U.S. on the hook to fund the activities of a treaty to which it is not a party. This is also unacceptable.

“In conclusion, we must always uphold our fundamental, individual right to keep and to bear arms which are enshrined in our Constitution.

“We must always uphold our sovereignty and our arms export control system which is the gold standard in the world.

“I thank the chairman and the ranking member for including this amendment in this en bloc amendment. I urge my colleagues to stand with me in support of the Second Amendment, our nation's sovereignty, and vote in support of this amendment to renew the annual ban on the funding of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.”

BACKGROUND:  Rep. Kelly is a national leader of the movement to stop the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

On March 15, 2013, he introduced H. Con. Res. 23, a bipartisan concurrent resolution expressing opposition to the treaty on behalf of members of Congress. The resolution earned 149 co-sponsors in the House and 36 supporters in the Senate.

On May 30, 2013, Rep. Kelly submitted a bipartisan letter with 130 co-signers from Congress to both President Obama and Secretary Kerry urging them to reject the treaty. He sent a similar bipartisan letter to the president following Secretary Kerry’s signing of the treaty on October 15, 2013, which was signed by 181 members of Congress, including multiple committee chairmen. A follow-up letter was sent to the White House on April, 20, 2014.

On April 1, 2014, Rep. Kelly authored and submitted four separate letters to the bipartisan leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies requesting updated and strengthened language prohibiting federal funding of the ATT in each of the subcommittees’ respective appropriation bills for fiscal year 2015, including an explicit ban on the use of funds to engage in domestic prosecutions on the basis of the ATT. Each letter was co-signed by more than 80 members of Congress.

On May 22, 2014, the House passed H.R. 4335, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, which included Rep. Kelly’s amendment to continue the Defense Department’s ban on funding for the ATT.

On September 5, 2014, Rep. Kelly submitted a letter to President Obama voicing opposition to the planned First Conference of State Parties (CSP) to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) – a UN-backed gathering to shape the future of the ATT – due to its exclusion of any organization critical of the treaty.

On December 16, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015, which includes a ban on federal funding for the ATT’s implementation. The president signed the final version of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 3979) on December 19, 2014, which included a similar ban.

On March 2, 2015, Rep. Kelly sent a letter to President Obama co-signed by 34 new members of Congress elected in 2014 to express unified opposition to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and a firm commitment to deny any federal funding for the treaty’s implementation.

On March 25, 2015, Rep. Kelly again authored and submitted four separate letters to the bipartisan leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Each letter requested updated and strengthened language prohibiting federal funding of the ATT in each of the subcommittees’ respective appropriation bills for fiscal year 2016. Each letter was co-signed by 90 members of Congress.

 

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Rep. Kelly Calls for Passage of Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

2015/05/13

Bill will ban abortion after 5 months into pregnancy

Rep. Kelly: “We have to protect the unborn because they cannot protect themselves”

WATCH HERE

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) delivered remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives today in support of H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which will federally ban almost all abortions from being performed beyond the 20th week of a pregnancy, when the unborn child is able to feel pain, with an exception for instances of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake. The legislation is expected to be passed by the House this evening.

Rep. Kelly’s floor speech:

“We have to do this, and I’m going to tell you why:

“Because scientific evidence now shows that unborn babies can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization, and likely even earlier; 

“Because a late term abortion is an excruciatingly painful and inhumane act against children waiting to be born and their mothers;

“Because women terminating pregnancies at 20 weeks are 35 times more likely to die from abortion than they are in the first trimester, and 91 times more likely to die from abortion at 21 weeks or beyond;

“Because, after five months into a pregnancy, the baby is undeniably a living, growing human and government’s first duty is to protect innocence life;

“Because overwhelmingly, most Americans – and I’m talking about men and women, young and old – support legislation to protect these innocent people;

“Because the hideous case of Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia is a brutal reminder of what can occur without this type of legislation in place.

“I want to tell my colleagues: Just think of how little effort it would be today to take your voting card out, put it in the machine, and press on the green button. And by doing that, you are saying ‘yes’ to protecting the most vulnerable people of our society from going through unbelievable amounts of pain. 

“Isn’t it amazing that in America’s House we have to pass legislation to protect the most innocent life? This is incredible that we have to even come forward and debate this.

“My goodness, this is just so intuitive of who we are, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as human beings. We have to protect the unborn because they cannot protect themselves. Vote ‘yes’ on this today. Let’s make sure that our children are not subjected to this pain and that their mothers are not subjected to the same pain and the resulting loss of life.”

NOTE: This legislation is being considered on the second anniversary of the murder conviction of abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

More information about H.R. 36 and fetal pain can be found here, here, and here.

 

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Rep. Kelly Re-Introduces Defending Internet Freedom Act

2015/05/13

Bill protects Internet from foreign government, UN control

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – issued the following statement today after introducing H.R. 2251, the Defending Internet Freedom Act of 2015. The legislation would prevent the Obama administration from relinquishing the critical functions of the Internet – currently stewarded by the United States – to any other entity without enhanced congressional oversight and until every freedom-protecting accountability requirement defined in the bill is completely satisfied. It is being co-sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), who also serves as chairman and co-founder of the Congressional High Tech Caucus.

Statement by Rep. Kelly:

“Preserving Internet freedom is an American duty, now and always. The Obama administration’s plan to transfer governance of the Internet to ‘the global multistakeholder community’ deserves serious scrutiny. A relinquishment of this magnitude must be handled with extreme caution and delicacy. That is why this bill’s requirements are strict, far-reaching, and non-negotiable. They will prevent the Internet and its countless offerings from ever being disrupted by a foreign power or group of powers, including the UN. For the sake of the Internet’s future, and the billions of people worldwide who benefit from it, we must never allow this vital tool to fall under the influence of any entity that does not cherish free speech and democratic principles as we do.”

Endorsements for the Defending Internet Freedom Act of 2015 include:

American Center for Law and Justice

Eagle Forum

Heritage Action for America

BACKGROUND: On March 14, 2014, the Obama administration announced that it will not renew the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), thereby turning over stewardship of the Internet’s crucial functions to “the global multistakeholder community.” The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract expires on September 30, 2015, but the NTIA has an option to extend the contract until September 30, 2017, and an option to extend it until September 30, 2019.

According to media expert Gordon Crovitz, writing in The Wall Street Journal, “Russia, China and other authoritarian governments have already been working to redesign the Internet more to their liking, and now they will no doubt leap to fill the power vacuum caused by America's unilateral retreat.”

On June 11, 2014, Rep. Kelly authored a guest op-ed for Red Alert Politics describing the stakes of surrendering American stewardship of the Internet to a multinational body or any other entity. On July 15, 2014, Rep. Kelly hosted a policy briefing on Capitol Hill on the future of Internet governance in light of the Obama administration’s announcement. The briefing was attended by dozens of congressional staffers and featured professional analysis by three field experts.

On November 19, 2014, Rep. Kelly introduced the Defending Internet Freedom Act of 2014 (H.R. 5737), which would prevent the Obama administration, or that of any future president, from relinquishing the critical functions of the Internet to any other entity without enhanced congressional oversight and until explicit, freedom-protecting requirements are met.

 

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Rep. Kelly’s Op-Ed at RealClearPolitics Marks Second Anniversary of IRS Targeting Scandal

2015/05/08

“Even the most despicable abuses of power can become reality”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – authored a guest opinion piece published today by RealClearPolitics to address the second anniversary of the breaking of the targeting scandal at the Internal Revenue Agency (IRS) and the importance of restoring the American public’s trust in government.

Our Chance to Curb IRS Corruption

By Rep. Mike Kelly

Thomas Jefferson once enunciated the basic principle of public service: “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.”

This sentiment has since been expressed by many American statesmen, culminating in 1989’s Executive Order 12674: Principles of Ethical Conduct for Government Officers and Employees, which definitively states, “Public service is public trust.”

Today, that crucial trust between the American citizenry and its government is in shreds. According to a recent Pew Research study, only 23 percent of Americans trust the federal government “to do the right thing at least most of the time.” A shameful anniversary this weekend provides a partial yet powerful reminder for how we got here.

Two years ago this Sunday, America learned that federal agents at the Internal Revenue Service – already the most feared federal agency, by far – had used their daunting power to target conservative-leaning political organizations for unfair, unthinkable abuse.

Numerous groups that had routinely applied for tax exempt status were wrongly forced to disclose extremely personal information about their members, including their family ties, their past political activity, and even – to my deepest disgust – the content of their prayers. Many of their applications are still in limbo.

One week after the scandal broke, I confronted outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller as he testified before the House Ways and Means Committee. I told him the targeting “reconfirms everything that the American public believes” about his agency and called it “a huge blow to the faith and trust the American people have in their government.”

It turned out that in the land of the free, holding beliefs not blessed by those in power could come with consequences. To many, it seemed that the bullying practices of a Third World autocracy had found a new home.

A Pandora’s box had been opened and eventually the scandal took several sharp turns for the worse.

One of these turns came when the IRS admitted it had leaked confidential taxpayer information from several conservative groups to outside organizations and left-leaning media outlets.

In June 2013, Dr. John Eastman with the National Organization for Marriage testified before our committee that NOM’s private tax information was given to the Human Rights Campaign and subsequently posted on the HRC website and republished by others such as the Huffington Post.

This sort of unauthorized public disclosure of private taxpayer information is a punishable felony. After the practice was exposed, NOM attempted to learn how the IRS was investigating such an outrageous criminal violation of its privacy. Unfortunately, the same statute which prohibits the disclosure of a taxpayer’s confidential tax information also prevents any disclosure of the culprit of that very crime. The IRS seized the excuse. Thus, Dr. Eastman, along with many other victims like him, have been completely stonewalled to this very day.

Fortunately, this particular problem is as fixable as this entire scandal was preventable.

Last month, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a series of bills to stop future IRS abuse and restore both accountability and transparency to the scandalized agency. One of these bills was my Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act (H.R. 1026), which will change the tax code so that victims of IRS leaks can finally get answers to simple questions like “Who leaked my information?” and “What’s being done to prevent it from happening again?”

To this day, the IRS is still hiding behind provisions meant to protect innocent taxpayers in order to instead protect its reckless employees. With my legislation, this exploitation will end and wronged taxpayers will receive the transparency they have long been denied.

Of course, such a bill should be completely unnecessary since the IRS should never be committing such transgressions in the first place. Yet, as history has taught us, as long as governments are operated by men and not angels, even the most despicable abuses of power can become reality, and then must be dealt with.

With Congress now in Republican control, I am hopeful that reasonable measures to end IRS corruption can finally make it to President Obama’s desk. There, he can join the legislative branch in taking a small first step – albeit a necessary one – in closing the dangerous gap between the public and their government that has undeniably widened under his administration’s watch.

Ultimately, why does this matter?

Because the legitimacy of our democratic government still depends on public trust. Because every American, by virtue of his or her citizenship, ought to have complete confidence in the integrity of our system. Because, two years after the unthinkable at the IRS became reality, that integrity has still not been restored and, in fact, is only further crumbling.

It’s long past time to give the American people a government they can trust again.

NOTE: Since news of the IRS targeting scandal first broke in May 2013, Rep. Kelly has been a prominent vocal leader in the ongoing pursuit for answers and accountability. After earning a standing ovation for his fierce scolding of then-IRS commissioner Steven Miller at the Ways and Means Committee’s first-ever hearing on the scandal, The Washington Post’s Right Turn blog named Rep. Kelly its “Distinguished Pol of the Week.” The New York Post declared that Rep. Kelly’s words “ought to be emblazoned across the entryway of every IRS office in America.”

In response to the scandal, Rep. Kelly introduced the Government Employee Accountability Act, which would grant all federal agencies the power to fire reckless Senior Executive Service employees (such as ex-IRS official Lois Lerner) on the spot, or place them on “investigative leave” without pay. The legislation was passed by the House of Representatives on August 1, 2013, as part of the Stop Government Abuse Act (H.R. 2879) by a bipartisan vote of 239-176. Rep. Kelly re-introduced the bill on February 4, 2015. On February 26, 2015, Rep. Kelly introduced H.R. 1026, the Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act, which the House unanimously passed April 15, 2015.

 

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2015-04-17 15:23:22


Contact Information

1519 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5406
Fax 202-225-3103
kelly.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Ways and Means

Mike Kelly was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Butler, PA, where he has lived for the past 53 years. After graduating from Butler High School in 1966, Mike attended the University of Notre Dame on a football and academic scholarship. After college, Mike moved back to Butler to work at Kelly Chevrolet-Cadillac, Inc., a company founded by his father in the early 1950s. Mike took ownership of the dealership in the mid-1990s, expanding its operations to include Hyundai and KIA franchises.

Mike currently employs over 100 people from the region, and is a leader in the local and national automotive industry. Mike has served as Chairman of the Hyundai Eastern Region Dealer Council, Vice Chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council, and has served on the boards of the Chevrolet Dealers Advertising Association of Pittsburgh and the Cadillac Consultants of Western Pennsylvania. In addition, Mike was Secretary and Treasurer of the Hyundai initiative “Hope on Wheels,” which has donated over $58 million to childhood cancer research institutions nationwide.

Mike was a Butler City councilman, and has sat on the boards of several local and civic organizations, including the Housing Authority of Butler County, the Redevelopment Authority of Butler County, and the Moraine Trails Council of Boys Scouts of America. In recognition of Mike’s extensive volunteer and charitable work, Catholic Charities gave Mike the Mary DeMucci Award and the Mayor of Butler designated October 26, 2001 as “Mike Kelly Day” for his commitment to his hometown.

Dedicated to improving education, Mike founded the Butler Quarterback Club and The Golden Tornado Scholastic Foundation, which provides unique and innovative educational programs for students in the Butler Area School District. Mike and his wife, Victoria, a former elementary school teacher, also established the Mary McTighe Kelly Creative Teaching Grant for elementary educators and the Lighthouse Foundation’s One Warm Coat Program, which helped collect over 500 winter coats for students in need in the Butler community.

Mike and Victoria have four children: George III, Brendan, Charlotte and Colin; and are the proud grandparents to George IV, Vivian, Elizabeth, Helena, Elaina, Maeve and Victoria. Mike’s family and friends were with him on January 5, 2011, when Mike was sworn into office as the U.S. Representative of the 3rd Congressional District of Pennsylvania. Mike looks forward to representing the interests and voicing the concerns of the 3rd District, especially as they relate to Mike’s work on the House Committee on Ways and Means.


Serving With

Scott Perry

PENNSYLVANIA's 4th DISTRICT

Glenn Thompson

PENNSYLVANIA's 5th DISTRICT

Ryan Costello

PENNSYLVANIA's 6th DISTRICT

Patrick Meehan

PENNSYLVANIA's 7th DISTRICT

Mike Fitzpatrick

PENNSYLVANIA's 8th DISTRICT

Bill Shuster

PENNSYLVANIA's 9th DISTRICT

Tom Marino

PENNSYLVANIA's 10th DISTRICT

Louis Barletta

PENNSYLVANIA's 11th DISTRICT

Keith Rothfus

PENNSYLVANIA's 12th DISTRICT

Charlie Dent

PENNSYLVANIA's 15th DISTRICT

Joe Pitts

PENNSYLVANIA's 16th DISTRICT

Tim Murphy

PENNSYLVANIA's 18th DISTRICT

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