Pro-Nuquay Lawmakers Trash Recusal Arguments
Vice President Joseph N. Boakai’s selection of Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay as his running mate for the ruling Unity Party ticket in the October elections has raised concerns about Nuquay’s “integrity” as the Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate.
Maryland County District #2 Representative Dr. Bhofal Chambers, in a letter to the Speaker, which was debated on Tuesday at the 49th day sitting, argued that he should recuse himself ‘for conscience’s sake’ and to avoid the temptation of compromising the country’s interest.
“It’s a known fact that our Presiding Officer, Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, is now the vice standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party, of which the current Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai, is the standard bearer, who himself is equally the Presiding Officer of the Liberian Senate, by virtue of his current position.
“I therefore, solicit your support in urging the Speaker to see reason to recuse himself from presiding over the plenary for conscience’s sake and to further avoid temptation of compromising the interests of the Liberian nation, especially in instances where the presiding officers of both Houses have to sit and make decisions on critical matters that require independent minds, objectivity, and/or balances in the best interest of the nation,” Dr. Chambers said.
Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous M. Gray supported Rep. Chambers’ argument and said the House’s Rules and Regulations call for the proper use of power and upholding the dignity of the House.
“No member shall misuse the power given to him/her by law,” Rule 41.1 says. “Members shall not use their powers and duties for his/her own advantage or for committing acts of partiality, but for the protection of the interest of the public and citizens in a just manner,” Rule 41.2 states.
He added that Rule 42 states: “Every member shall, at any place, keep the prestige and dignity of the House and refrain from undesirable acts.”
One pro-Nuquay lawmaker, Nimba County District # 1 Representative Jeremiah Koung, in defense, rebuffed Dr. Chambers’ recusal letter and chided Rep. Gray, saying there is “no constitutional reliance, statute or precedent” to compel the Speaker to recuse himself, adding further that the Speaker should have even sought re-election as Representative in Margibi County District #5 while at the same time as running mate to Vice President Joseph Boakai.
“There is no constitutional reliance to stop the Speaker to contest for both seats – Vice President and Representative – he should have emulated Speaker Paul Ryan of the Congress of the United States,” Rep. Koung said. “We’re copying directly the democracy of the US.”
Several lawmakers, including Reps. Clarence Massaquoi, Garrison Yealue, Numenu Bartekwa, Edwin Snowe, Edward Karfiah, Tokpah Mulbah, George Mulbah, among others, also argued against Rep. Chambers’ argument.
Forty (40) of the 42 Representatives in session voted to trash the recusal letter from Rep. Chambers.
Speaker Paul Ryan
Republican Paul Ryan, who has represented the U.S. State of Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district since 1999, ran for re-election after deciding not to run for the U.S. Senate or seek the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012.
Ryan was selected to be the Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States on August 11, 2012, and he was also allowed to run for re-election to his House seat.
This isn’t the first time that a sitting member of the US Congress has run for President or, more commonly, Vice-President in the same year that their seat was up for re-election.
Most famously, it happened in 1960 when Lyndon Johnson used his political connections to get a change in Texas election laws that would allow him to run for both seats at the same time.