The Citizens Constitutional Caucus is planning a day-long symposium to discuss “Preparing and Passing Constitutional Legislation in a Broken System.” Richard Fry, a nationally-recognized Constitutional expert, will conduct the session.
The symposium will be June 28 at the Hampton Inn, (I-40 Exit 290) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a break for lunch. Cost is $15 prepaid, $20 at the door. There will also be a town hall discussion from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The caucus will hold its second quarterly meeting the next day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hampton Inn.
“What we citizens are experiencing with our political systems in America is what I call a representative disconnect,” Fry said. “The majority of our ‘public servants’ either do not understand or do not care that after supporting and defending the Constitution, securing our fundamental rights, their job is to do what the majority of citizens want, not what they think is best for us, within the bounds of the Constitution.”
Fry, general counsel for the Patriot Coalition, said that for some time most elected officials have served the interests of special interest groups, which include the major political parties.
Public servants are “fiduciaries,” Fry explains. That means they owe citizens the highest level of fidelity.
“They (public servants) have a duty of transparency and disclosure,” Fry said. On the other hand, citizens have a duty to hold public servants accountable.
In some circumstance, he said that public servants have “an affirmative duty to disclose information” to the people and they are “never to conceal or otherwise hamper” the ability of the people to know what they are doing.
“This should be non-negotiable,” Fry said. “Unless they are transparent in their actions we cannot fulfill our duty to hold them accountable and the whole system crumbles.”
Public officials also have a duty to reveal and change any procedure that conceals their actions, and the people have a duty to uncover them. Fry points out that Congress routinely operates using such concealed rules.
“Hidden within the House and Senate rules, especially those related to committee actions, there are rules that serve no real purpose but to obscure the actions of our elected officials,” Fry explained.
One such rules is the failure to record votes, especially terminal votes, which effectively end or “kill” a bill.
“Likewise if there are votes that relate to whether a vote should be recorded, that vote needs to be recorded so we can judge whether such procedure was used for the sake of efficiency, or has the effect of concealment,” he added.
“Although some will defend these rules as necessary for the sake of efficiency, trading transparency for the sake of efficiency is no trade off at all,” Fry declared. “It is a short road to disaster and despotism.”
Fry said people should remember one thing about transparency on all issues when dealing with legislators.
“You are the boss and you are paying the freight,” he emphasized. “If you want more transparency at the cost of efficiency that is your right. Their only question should be how quickly they can get it done.”
Fry lives in Olathe, Kansas. He served as a legislative intern to the Kansas Senate President, as a financial analyst for a Fortune 100 company, and civil litigation attorney for 15 years. He has has testified before state legislative committees, and consulted and advised state legislators, Congressman and presidential candidates on Constitutional issues.
On June 29, the morning agenda will include updates on current task force actions and activities in other states. The afternoon session will consist of presentations and discussion of proposals to support or oppose several bills or resolutions currently before the General Assembly.
The caucus will also consider forming additional task forces, including one to oppose implementation of the “common core” educational curriculum.
For information and to register for the symposium and quarterly meeting go here.