I am prompted to write in response to your Oct 1, 2020 editorial titled, “Purity tests hamstring leaders.”
You noted a recent contract signed by legislative candidates in a nearby county. Such contracts or purity tests, you noted, are why so little gets done in Washington. Your column indicates that when you vote for someone you expect them to use their best judgment about the public interest, and to make reasoned decisions after thoughtful consideration.
I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in your column.
As an elected officeholder, I periodically receive mailings from groups asking for my position on various possible bills. Sometimes these are coupled with requests – or, at times, demands – that I sign pledges or contracts. I thought you, and perhaps your readers, might be interested in two notes I attach in my responses.
First, with respect to questions about my positions on issues of the day, I attach this note:
“Caveat for Survey Answers. Addressing her colleagues on the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Nancy Pelosi famously said, ‘We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.’ Unlike Rep. Pelosi, I believe in reading and understanding important legislation before voting on it.
“Candidate surveys describe hypothetical legislation and want a ‘support or oppose’ answer, and never a check box for ‘I support / oppose the concept generally, but my vote depends on what the bills says.’
“I respond to many candidate surveys, but with the caveat that all my answers are based on the understanding that I may or may not vote for legislation depending on what the bill actually says. The content of the bill may not line up with the hypothetical legislation posed in candidate surveys.”
Second, with respect to requests that I sign a contract or pledge or similar, I attach this note:
“I appreciate what you do, and the fact that you reached out to me with a request that I sign a pledge. I do not sign pledges to lobbying or special interest groups, even if their views align with mine or mine with theirs.
“Signing a pledge to groups, in my view, is contrary to the Constitution, which, I believe, demands fealty to the nation, and the voters.
“As to pledges, here are four I’ve made and intend to keep. First, I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
“ When sworn into office, I swear to two additional pledges. I pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of Wyoming. And, I pledge to faithfully discharge the duties of my office.
“The fourth pledge I make is this: I am accountable to, and pledge to do my best, to represent the interests of the voters of Johnson and Sheridan counties.
“The legislative process presupposes that elected representatives will listen to those who elect them and carefully read and consider all legislation, and vote based on what is right for the United States, for Wyoming and for the people they represent.
“That may very well align with the outcome desired by interest groups seeking a ‘pledge’ to their group or cause. If so, that must be the result of the deliberative process, not because a group wants to ‘hold me to their pledge.’
“I trust you will understand and respect my position.”
The readers of the Buffalo Bulletin well know the tremendous issues facing our great State. It is my pleasure to serve representing them, and my pledge is to continue to listen, learn, deliberate and vote for what I hope best serves our community.
Sen. Dave Kinskey
Senate District 22 – Johnson County and Eastern Sheridan County