There is a new metric in the competition between Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew Clyde for the Most Extremist Georgia U.S. House Member: fines for refusing to obey the chamber’s rules requiring masks on the House floor. The two North Georgia MAGA champions may claim they are opposed to socialistic spending by Congress, but they are spending their own (or perhaps donors’) money like drunken sailors in an effort to stand up to big government and Nancy Pelosi while endangering the lives and health of their colleagues, as the New York Times reports:
During a recent marathon session in the House, two Republican lawmakers from Georgia sat in full view of television cameras. Neither was wearing a mask.
It was the latest act of defiance by the pair, Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew Clyde, against a rule requiring legislators to wear masks on the House floor. Most Republican lawmakers, however grudgingly, have complied with the mandate, which can carry fines that quickly add up to hefty amounts. But Ms. Greene and Mr. Clyde have repeatedly, and proudly, flouted it.
To date, the two have incurred more than $100,000 combined in fines, which are taken directly from their paychecks.
Official tabulations show that Greene has run up $80,000 in mask fines, and Clyde $30,000, though both numbers are probably low because of the lag time between individual acts of rules-flouting and the House Ethics Committee reports. The House gives anti-mask scofflaws a bit of a mulligan with a mere $500 fine for the first violation, but after that, it gets a mite expensive with a fine of $2,500 per incident.
Greene is wealthy enough to have largely self-funded her 2020 congressional contest, not to mention costs associated with buying a house in the district she now represents (she parachuted into Georgia’s 14th Congressional District after launching a campaign closer to where she actually lived). Clyde owns a flourishing gun-sales business called Clyde Armory, Inc. His successful battle with the IRS in a civil forfeiture action against his business was his calling card in a Trumpier-than-thou 2020 Republican primary. Neither of these freshman legislators is likely hurting for money, and presumably there are eager right-wing donors in Georgia and elsewhere willing to help defray the cost of the fines. In any event, it’s a small price for anti-mask martyrdom.
Greene’s fines make her a good example of how a politician can have a net negative contribution to national life. She was stripped of committee assignments earlier this year when a variety of violent comments she made about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders came to light. Her only real job in Washington is to show up for House floor proceedings, and she hasn’t been able to do even that without disruptive behavior, including the aforementioned threat of infecting other members, socialistic or not (she has proudly refused to get vaccinated, claiming that her frantic fitness routines protect her from COVID.
Presumably if every other member of Congress pumped iron like MTG did, no masks would be necessary. Maybe instead of spending her money on fines, she should invest in buffing up the House. And if members all carried shooting irons from Clyde’s armory, instead of adhering to Pelosi’s tyrannical security rules, they’d be safe and sound. This could represent the building blocks of a Greene-Clyde agenda for the next congressional session.