January 14, 2007

My take: Atkins

I obviously do not delve into the minutiae of local political matters as vigorously as the guys at Down With Absolutes, First State Politics and DE Watch do. (I suggest you read the posts by these blogs to get specifics about the matter if you're unfamiliar.) However, I certainly read many of these blogs and follow what's going on. I'd like to offer my view of a "hot" topic as of late -- specifically that of State Rep. John Atkins.

First, the whole thing stinks. It stinks to high heaven. Anyone else who was in Rep. Atkins' situation that fateful night would most certainly have been arrested for drunken driving. (After all, Atkins blew a 1.4 blood alcohol level and the level for "drunken driving" is 0.8, not to mention his driving was erratic.) I think it's quite safe to say that if that were you or I, we'd now have our license suspended (perhaps revoked) and we'd have a record. Ah, but you see, Atkins flashed his legislative ID at the cops!

Which brings me to #2: What can be done to Atkins via legislative House ethics rules? After some searching last evening online for the relevant rules in question, it seems Atkins could certainly be punished for at least breaking one rule:

Rule 16: Rules of Legislative Conduct, section IV, subsection 5: A member shall not engage in conduct constituting official misconduct in violation of Section 1211, Title 11 of the Delaware Code.

What does Section 1211, Title 11 of the Delaware Code say? The following:

A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, intending to obtain a personal benefit or to cause harm to another person:

(1) The public servant commits an act constituting an unauthorized exercise of official functions, knowing that the act is unauthorized.

Does flashing your legislative ID at police officers who've pulled you over constitute "intending to obtain a personal benefit" and an "unauthorized exercise of official functions"? In my book, it does.

There's also the following, which is much more subjective from the House's point of view:

Subsection 11 of the same section states A member shall not engage in conduct which the House determines (i) brings the House into disrepute or (ii) reflects adversely on the member's fitness to hold legislative office.

Now what can (will) happen if -- if -- the House makes such a determination? Just about anything the House desires in terms of punishment. But, don't think it's gonna be easy, those who think Atkins should be booted from office:

If the House finds by a majority vote that a member has violated a Rule of Legislative Conduct, it may impose such disciplinary action as it deems appropriate; provided that no member may be suspended or expelled without the vote of two-thirds of the members of the House concurring therein.

So, unless Atkins resigns, it's gonna take that 'ol 2/3 majority to sack him. That's unlikely, especially since the House is GOP controlled. What's more likely is an official reprimand.

Posted by Hube at January 14, 2007 02:51 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

All animals are equal.

Some animals are more equal than others.

Posted by: Duffy at January 15, 2007 10:44 AM

THANK YOU for this. And I thought I was the only one that read the Delaware Code.

Sounds pretty simple to me.

I can't get into the "feeding frenzy" that is Atkins, but something sure stinks, and it ain't the Cherry Island landfill.

Posted by: Shirley Vandever at January 17, 2007 05:52 PM