On February 13, the day the Senate GOP caucus predictably acquitted Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted twice that the proceeding was “unconstitutional.”
Blackburn, who holds a degree in home economics, is probably a splendid resource for anyone who wants to know how to whip up a tasty 15-minute casserole or remove wine stains from a sofa cushion. But it’s probably safe to assume that constitutional law is not her strong suit.
Blackburn has been a political presence for over 30 years dating back to her founding membership in the Williamson County Young Republicans. While her career as a legislator has been unremarkable, it has been steadily upward bound. Throughout this ascendancy, Blackburn seems to have held the same view of power as Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards character, Frank Underwood:
“Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value.”
Whether through a lack of legal acumen or a disdain for the workhorse aspects of her job, Blackburn has not authored a single piece of significant legislation, but she nods her head in vigorous affirmation of any utterance made by those whom she perceives to be powerful or destined for power.
With remarkable prescience, Blackburn hitched her wagon to Donald Trump when most Republicans were writing him off as a sideshow. From as far back as 2009 when she backed a bill requiring presidential candidates to submit their birth certificates as proof of American origin, she has been an enthusiastic member of the Trump dog sled team, and followed the disgraced ex-president’s lead every step of the way for four unfortunate years. Her slavish devotion to Trump has not gone unrewarded. She served on his 2016 transition team, and many credit her sycophancy for gaining the party nod for a Senate seat.
Blackburn has had her share of ethical controversy. In 2010, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named her to its list of most corrupt members of Congress for alleged campaign finance improprieties. Last year, the Congressional Integrity Project accused Blackburn of funneling $370,000 to “basement-run firms” owned by her daughter and son-in-law. Even now, a review of her campaign fund expenditures in Federal Election Commission records shows some transactions which, if not illegal, certainly cause a cynical raising of the eyebrows.
For example, in 2019 and 2020, the Blackburn campaign spent $18,454 on airfare and $11,261 for hotel rooms in Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, California and Arizona. Why would a Senator who lives in Tennessee and works in Washington, D.C., spend more in campaign funds than many of her constituents (who in large part donated those funds) make in a year to jet around to nine different states?
In the same two-year period, Blackburn’s campaign spent nearly $40,000 in food and beverages. Some of these outlays appear to have been to caterers for what must have been political events. Others were clearly for one person meals at Chick-Fil-A. $3,160 went to the Capitol Hill Club, a swanky, Republicans-only hangout walking distance from, you guessed it, Capitol Hill. Another $420 went to the 116 Club, a lesser known and more exclusive club described by Politico as “a physical embodiment of the lobbying and influence peddling that Donald Trump…railed against” and whose board members are “a who’s who of top lobbyists, industry group leaders and congressional staffers.” If these charges were racked up by Blackburn herself, the question becomes, is it right for a person who makes an annual salary of $174,000 to use money donated by hardworking Tennesseans to buy an occasional chicken sandwich? A night on the town at a 5-star restaurant? Monthly membership in a club that most of those donors would be unceremoniously turned away from?
One more eyebrow-raiser: Marsha Blackburn’s campaign committee spent $847.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.
So let’s put it in a different perspective. If you were in a supervisory role at your place of employment and you had a position to fill, would you hire an unqualified candidate whose chief talents are banality and sucking up to the boss, and who has a long record of questionable use of company funds?
Your company deserves better than that.
So does Tennessee.