Florida CD-13 Candidate Questionnaire Responses

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Tampa Bay is an all-volunteer, membership-based political action organization dedicated to promoting the ideals of sensible limited government, free markets and individual Liberty in the Tampa Bay area.

In an effort to inform the voters of Florida Congressional District 13, we brainstormed a candidate questionnaire that we felt addressed a broad range of important issues currently facing our nation and the residents of Pinellas County CD13. The questionnaire was sent to all five qualified candidates for the CD-13 Special Election. Their responses are provided in the order that they were received. As of 7:00 PM on 12/17/2013, Alex Sink is the only candidate who has not yet responded. If you see her on the campaign trail, please politely ask her when she plans to respond to the RLC of Tampa Bay questionnaire. :)

## March 12, 2014 update: Alex Sink was the only candidate to not respond to our questionnaire. She was defeated by David Jolly on March 11, 2014.

Our goal in creating and releasing the results of this questionnaire is to not only inform voters, but also to redirect this Congressional race toward a substantive discussion of the issues that will face the winning candidate when he/she arrives in Washington.

On a more personal note, if you like what you see here, please consider contributing to the Republican Liberty Caucus of Tampa Bay:



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General Mark Bircher for Congress Lucas Overby for Congress David Jolly for Congress Kathleen Peters for Congress Alex Sink for Congress
Mark Bircher
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Lucas Overby
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David Jolly
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Kathleen Peters
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Alex Sink
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Voter Information
Mark Bircher, David Jolly, and Kathleen Peters face off in the Republican primary on January 14th. Mail-in ballots should have already been received, and early voting starts January 4th.

The winner of the Republican primary faces off against Lucas Overby and Alex Sink on March 11th.

To find out if you live in Florida District 13 and/or find your precinct voting location for voting in person on January 14th/March 11th, check the VotePinellas.com website.

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The candidate responses are listed in the order that they were received. Candidate photos that are in black-and-white above indicate that they have not yet responded.

We would like to thank the responding candidates for their time and consideration in this time-compressed campaign.

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Economic Issues & Taxes

1.  What can Congress do to help return manufacturing jobs to the United States?

Bircher: No US trade negotiator may sit on any foreign company board of directors or similar organization for ten years after leaving government service.  Everything Congress does must either add to the security of the states or relate to enhancing US business interests, jobs, trade, economic growth, markets, etc.  Everything else is purview of state legislator.

Overby: Congress can ease restrictions on manufacturing and allow States to work together with their industries to promote growth.

Jolly: End excessive regulations that act as a tax on businesses, dramatically reduce the corporate income tax, and eliminate laws that make it tough for domestic businesses to compete with foreign companies.

Peters: In order to help return manufacturing jobs to the US, Congress needs to reform its tax structure on businesses. By doing so, manufacturers would be more enticed to bring, or to return, their operations to our shores.

Sink: No response.

2.  How should the federal government proceed in addressing the national debt?

Bircher:  Require federal government to adhere to 10th Amendment and point to where in Art I, Sec 8, federal authority exists within enumerated powers.  Also, please see answer #3 below, debt and taxes are related.

Overby: The first step must be real cuts to spending and mitigation of multilayered bureaucracies.  This, in conjunction with ending corporate welfare and streamlining social programs, will draw the federal budget closer in line with its actual revenues.

Jolly: Balanced budget amendment and long-term entitlement reform that reduces mandatory federal spending.

Peters: Like all American families and businesses, the federal government needs to learn to live within its means. The most basic step that we can take to begin to reduce our debt is to pass a reasonable budget that reins in the annual growth of federal spending.

Sink: No response.

3.  Do you support a reconsideration of the US tax code? If so, what changes do you propose or support?

Bircher: Return to Founder’s intent of politicians being directly accountable for spending (through the election process) every other November. Essentially, return to the “apportionment” system that existed prior to the 16th Amendment.  Short term change = balanced budget.  Long term change = repeal 16th Amendment, and end the IRS as being unnecessary.

Overby: The US tax code, in the very least, needs to be simplified and consolidated. I support initiatives similar to those proposed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, among others.

Jolly: Yes. Fiscal issues are freedom issues, we should examine the total tax burden that an individual has to pay to the government (local, state, federal) and immediately begin to reduce that tax burden.

Peters: Yes. Tax rates on individuals, businesses and investments are at a level that discourages economic growth and prosperity.

Sink: No response.

4.  Do you support a full and complete audit of the Federal Reserve?

Bircher: Please see Ron Paul’s comments for my position.

Overby: I do support a full and complete audit of the Federal Reserve.

Jolly: Yes.

Peters: Yes.

Sink: No response.

Foreign Policy

5.  When is US military intervention in other nations justified?

Bircher:  US Const Art I Sec 8, clauses 11, 12, 13, control.  Depends upon the nature of the situation requiring intervention and the intervention forces anticipated.  For example, military intervention to evacuate an embassy staff and American citizens during civil unrest in a foreign country, as opposed to major actions like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc.  NO undeclared wars.  Only US Marines allowed to intervene without war declaration, (clause 13 – congressional authority to maintain a Navy, Marines in Dept of Navy,).  The President and Congress have the constitutional authority to deploy Marines, but Congressional approval by “up or down” vote of Congress is required to deploy US Army, (clause 12) .  “Since only the People actually pay in ‘Blood and Treasure’ for war, only the People may properly decide upon war.”  Thomas Jefferson.   George Washington’s “Farewell Address”, probably the best source for cogent policy on this issue.

Overby: Military intervention in another nation is only justified in response to an attack or clear and directed threat against our Nation or our allies.  Even under those conditions, military action should only be undertaken under the expressed will of the People through their duly elected representatives.

Jolly: To protect the national security interests of the United States.

Peters: International intervention of our military is justified only when there is a risk that jeopardizes the national security of the United States.

Sink: No response.

6.  What are your thoughts on the current policy of targeted drone strikes in foreign countries?

Bircher: Drone attacks are a “bright line” violation of the US Constitution unless Congress declares a war.

Overby: Any attack on a sovereign nation is an act of war.  The use of military drone strikes is no exception.  I am in full support of the use of drones on the battlefield to aid and protect our men and women on the ground, but like any other military action this must be approved by Congress.  The use of drones should not be used as an excuse by the executive branch to circumvent Congress.

Jolly: It is appropriate as a tool of authorized military conflict.

Peters: When and where warranted, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles avoids putting the lives of US service members in harm’s way.

Sink: No response.

7.  Is foreign aid a worthwhile expenditure for our government? What changes, if any, would you propose to our current foreign aid program?

Bircher: For the immediate future, I favor a total suspension of foreign aid until the budget crisis is solved.  If and when we are fiscally solvent, we then review our foreign aid expenditure within the scope of George Washington’s “Farewell Address” and the mindset of, “Policy follows interests.”

Overby: Not all foreign aid is the same and therefore not all aid can be lumped together with a blanket solution.  However, as a first step to reigning in the ever growing expense of this aid, I propose that we start by ending the aid to nations declared, either by us or by themsleves, to be our enemies and cutting aid to nations that we are in debt to.

Jolly: Foreign aid is only appropriate to advance our own national security interest or to provide stability in regions of strategic importance which are important to our national security interest.

Peters: It is advantageous to support our foreign allies when it is in our nation’s best interest.

Sink: No response.

Civil Liberties

8.  Do you favor scaling back or ending the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs? If so, what changes do you propose or support?

Bircher: Domestic surveillance by warrants only.

Overby: Yes, I do favor ending the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.  Any intrusion in the lives of our citizens without a properly executed warrant is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment.

Jolly: Yes, any surveillance of an American citizen without proper adjudication by a court should be illegal.

Peters: Recently, there has been a tremendous public outcry against the use of surveillance programs. Therefore, the use of such programs needs to be justified and targeting of surveillance needs to be lawfully warranted and consistently applied across the board.

Sink: No response.

9.  Do you favor a repeal of the indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA of 2012? Why or why not?

Bircher: The ancient based writ of habeas corpus is arguably the most powerful tool of free men over injustice ever invented.  Arbitrary imprisonment is the most pernicious indicator of government tyranny that exists.  I favor repeal of all government actions that trample the US Constitution.  If history is a teacher, the people of the US are closer than they can ever imagine to the abuse the government now projects on “enemy combatants.”  Detained people are either prisoners of war, or suspected criminals.  There are no other possibilities.  In either case, the process of law controls.  Inventing new classifications of detainees, e.g., “enemy combatant” and new processes “ad hoc” are Orwellian in there circumvention of law.  “‘Necessity’, is the justification of tyrants and the creed of slaves.”  William Pitt.

Overby: I favor repealing both the NDAA and the Patriot Act and most certainly favor repealing indefinite detention.  Indefinite detention is a clear violation of the 6th Amendment.

Jolly: The Constitution, specifically in the 4th Amendment, prohibits the indefinite detention of an American citizen and any law that conflicts with this I do not support.

Peters: I believe the intentions of the NDAA of 2012 were to protect the well-being and security of Americans. Detentions should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Sink: No response.

10.  How can the War on Drugs be improved?

Bircher: Mostly by getting the federal government out of the process.  This is a state issue.

Overby: The best improvement for the War on Drugs would be to end it.

Jolly: No new federal laws are necessary.

Peters: When there is a correlation between drug abuse and violent crimes, we have a responsibility to protect the public.

Sink: No response.

The US Constitution

11.  Do you support the Constitutional restrictions on federal government powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8 as an absolute limit on all government functions and programs?

Bircher: Yes.  All civilian and military officers take a personal oath, on their honor, to the Constitution.  I believe the voluntary decision to take the oath, answers the above question.

Overby: Yes.

Jolly: Yes.

Peters: Yes.

Sink: No response.

12.  Do you support a state’s right to nullify federal law, as many have already done for example by legalizing medical marijuana, or blocking implementation of the Affordable Care Act?

Bircher: The federal government is an invention of the states to serve state interests.  The “supremacy” clause, Art VI, Sec 2, only applies when there is a conflict of laws within the enumerated powers of the federal government and a state.  In my view, states do not need a “right to nullify” federal law outside the enumerated powers because state law is already supreme in those instances; please see 9th and 10th Amendments.

Overby: Yes.

Jolly: Laws passed under Article I, Section 8 authority of the Congress preempt any state laws. Other than that, the 10th Amendment protects the states to govern its people.

Peters: Yes.

Sink: No response.

13.  Are there any departments of the federal government that you believe could be significantly scaled back, reallocated to the states, or ended completely? If so, which ones, and why?

Bircher: All departments, agencies, bureaus, etc., in the Executive Branch that are outside of the enumerated powers, e.g., Dept of Educ, HUD, H&S, etc., should be eliminated in their entirety.  We are actually losing our liberty faster on the “regulatory” side of the federal government, e.g., TSA, than the statutory.  All other organizations with federal and state shared responsibilities should be eliminated or “right sized” in accordance with what the states say is required to support state interests.

Overby: Yes.  While there are more, the departments we have focused on are the EPA, Department of Labor, and the Department of Education.  Not only are these departments already in existence at the State level, the States should have sole control over how they educate their children, protect their environment, and aid their work force.  Having these departments at the federal level removes accountability for unintended consequences and does not allow for laws and regulations to be based on the individual needs of the States.  In addition, having these departments at the federal level introduces and perpetuates a massive amount of waste and inefficiency.

Jolly: Yes I believe a thorough review of all federal agencies will show that each agency can be scaled back.

Peters: Yes – agencies such as the IRS, EPA and FDA have taken measures that restrict economic growth and prosperity of American businesses and taxpayers as a whole.

Sink: No response.

Healthcare

14.  Do you support a repeal of the Affordable Care Act?

Bircher: Yes, outside enumerated powers.

Overby: Yes.

Jolly: Yes.

Peters:  Yes.

Sink: No response.

15.  What reforms do you propose to make healthcare more affordable and accessible?

Bircher: Any regulation of healthcare should be decided by the state legislatures, and not by the federal government.  There is no reason central government is involved in healthcare. The word “affordable” is actually meaningless in the context of health care, except for its populist appeal.  No has ever actually defined what “affordable” means in the ACA context; affordable to whom?  Concerning healthcare, I am aligned with the ideas of Dr. Benjamin Carson.

Overby: I support reforming the cost of practicing medicine and providing care imposed by the government and I support defining a clear and equitable path to overall tort reform as a first step to making healthcare more affordable and accessible to everyone.  While additional reforms will be needed pertaining insurance, these reforms should be focused on repeal of laws and regulations that have either forced or allowed the insurance industry to become what it has.

Jolly: If we reduce federal regulations and mandates on health insurance policy, private industry will be able to offer diverse policies more capable of addressing individual consumer needs.

Peters: There are certain aspects of the ACA that resonate with our citizens, but overall the federal government should not be taking control of healthcare. We do have an obligation to make sure that private insurers are not taking advantage of those seeking coverage and at the same time protecting those consumers from policy loopholes that can prevent or deny them coverage based on unforeseen circumstances.

Sink: No response.

Social Issues

16. In what way(s) should government be involved with marriage?

Bircher: None at the federal level.  Whatever the states decide through their legislatures at the state level.

Overby: The federal government should not be involved in marriage. However, until such time that the federal government is removed from marriage; all persons should receive equal protection under the laws and regulations pertaining to marriage.

Jolly: Marriage is a matter of state law not federal.

Peters: The federal government should not intervene with marriage.

Sink: No response.

17. What involvement should the federal government have in regard to abortion?

Bircher: The Framers had abortion and covered the issue completely in the 9th Amendment.  Again, a state issue.  SCOTUS should never have granted certiorari to hear Roe v. Wade, or Doe v. Bolton because there is no valid federal question (privacy basis was specious at best, frivolous at worst) to provide jurisdiction.

Overby: The federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate or ban/allow abortions.  This is a matter that should be returned to the individual States.

Jolly: As a matter of my faith, I believe life begins at conception, and I believe we must create a culture that values life, including the unborn, children, adults and the elderly.

Peters: None.

Sink: No response.

Government Transparency

18.  Currently, one US Congressman utilizes social networking to promote government transparency by sharing every single vote he casts in Congress, and providing an explanation for that vote. Will you promise to provide a similar level of openness and accessibility to the votes you cast?

Bircher: Yes. As a public servant, bright lights and transparency must be a component to enable the people’s scrutiny and review of their Rep’s voting record.

Overby: I am in full favor of this practice and plan to implement it upon election.  My team and I are also developing several additional methods of voter contact, such as virtual town halls for periods of time where I am unable to do them in person.  To me constituent involvement is paramount.

Jolly: Yes.

Peters: Yes.

Sink: No response.

Additional comments or thoughts:

Bircher: “A Republic deserves the government it elects or tolerates.”  Thomas Jefferson

Overby: None

Jolly: None

Peters: None

Sink: No response.

 Remember to vote on January 14th in the Republican primary, and March 11th for the general election!

If you found this questionnaire useful, please consider offering a small contribution, so that we may continue our work and reach new people with the message of sensible limited government, free markets, and individual Liberty.