The recent announcement by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wi) came as a major shock to many in the political arena. Ryan’s tenure as leader of the representative body has assuredly been a rocky path, as he was elected to the position immediately following the Pope Frances address to Congress in September of 2016. It was also the same day that former Speaker of the House John Boehner announced his abrupt retirement in a similar fashion to Ryan. Boehner actually resigned immediately. Both decisions left many of their colleagues stunned, but not the political activists at End Citizens United.
Paul Ryan has been one of the primary targets of the End Citizens United political action committee since their inception shortly after the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2010 that has opened up the flood gates of money flowing directly into Washington, D.C., and directly into Ryan’s campaign war chest. His primary contributors were regularly the same individuals such as the Koch Brothers who obviously were repaid via special interest legislation that Ryan somehow managed to get passed, often to the detriment of his actual voting constituents. Ryan has actually already been surpassed in grassroots contributions by the current Democratic candidate running for his seat, making the outlook for reelection bleak for Ryan.
Ryan claimed when announcing he was not seeking reelection that he primarily wanted to spent more time with his family and return to Wisconsin to continue practicing law. For some people, the real question will be where Ryan lands when returning to the private sector after being rewarded so handsomely in the public sector. He could also even be privately considering a run for Wisconsin governor in the upcoming election. Regardless of Ryan’s intentions, he is leaving Washington in a firestorm for some reason, which could be the bleak outlook for maintaining his representative seat. He surely remembers Eric Cantor, and he could be poised to follow the same private sector transition model.
The number of candidates in Congress who have announced they will not be seeking reelection is catching the attention of the voters as well as the legislators who are choosing to run for office again, as the old guard career legislators who have worked K Street so diligently are leaving power. This could be good news for the activists like End Citizens United who are dedicated to stopping onerous massive money influence in Congress along with other strategic positions in important states such as Florida. Ryan’s voting record has shown that he has always voted in favor of his wealthy donors in all legislation that is presented for a vote, as do many of the other career Republican politicians.
But, now it appears at least that portion of Paul Ryan’s career is over, and could very well be because of the efforts of political activist groups like ECU and their Director Tiffany Muller who are dedicated to ending the current contribution bribery system by publishing the connections between Congress and their big money special interests. The times are assuredly changing, but D.C. must make the change to reverse Citizens United to truly actuate a return to effective policy for all Americans.