This article is second in a series of HUMAN EVENTS profiles featuring newly elected conservatives in the House of Representatives.
At 61, an age when many of his contemporaries are pondering retirement, Bill Posey is poised to begin a new career in January: He will become the U.S. representative from Florida’s 15th District (Cape Canaveral), succeeding retiring Rep. and fellow conservative Republican Dave Weldon.
Changing careers is nothing new for Posey. After following in his father’s footsteps and working at the Kennedy Space Center, Posey found himself laid off when the Apollo Program ended in 1972. He then launched his own real estate company. He won a seat on the Rockledge, Fla., City Council in 1976, moved on to the state house of representatives in 1992, and then to the state senate eight years later. When Weldon announced his surprise retirement earlier this year, most of the district’s elected Republicans and potential congressional candidates lined up early behind Posey. He won both the September primary and the general election in November with little difficulty.
“Increasing government accountability will be one of my top focuses in Washington, just as it was in Tallahassee,” Posey told me following a recent “freshman orientation” session for the newly elected House members. The Floridian has actually written and privately published a book on the subject, The Birth of Common Sense in Government Accountability.
Concluding that “looking at a state budget would probably be similar to looking at a large metropolitan telephone directory written in Chinese,” Posey offered the revolutionary Activity Based Total Accountability (ABTA) measure in the Sunshine State legislature. Under ABTA, every dollar a government agency receives will be designated for a specific activity. This, he strongly believes, will eliminate vagueness and slippage because it ties the total amount of money to activities rather than simply to programs and thus, to measurable results.
Along with his passion for streamlining accountability, Posey brings to the political table in Washington a record of opposing tax increases in local and state government and is unafraid to address the sensitive issue of illegal immigration.
“No, I would not have supported the comprehensive immigration package had I been in Congress in ’06,” Posey told me without hesitation, speaking of the measure backed by George W. Bush and John McCain that opponents called an amnesty. “My preference would have been to break the problem into the smallest possible bills and deal with the issues of border security and naturalization separately. It was a mistake to try to gulp down the apple in one bite.”
The Floridian believes that once border security has been strengthened and that can be proven to the American public, then the issue of naturalization for those in the U.S. illegally can be addressed. In his words, “Let’s just require everyone to come through the front door, but let’s close the back door first.”
As for Barack Obama, the new congressman from Florida says he is “optimistic” about the new President because he “speaks of a fresh breath of bipartisanship.” But, Posey quickly added, he feels Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership will run into fierce opposition if they try to push the union-backed “Card-check” and revival of the Fairness Doctrine, which would require radio stations to give time for diverse editorial opinions and discourage smaller stations from running Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators.
“The Fairness Doctrine is censorship, pure and simple,” Posey told me, “and, he said, “as someone who was on the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and worked on voting reforms in Florida after the chaos in the 2000 elections, I can say that the private vote is sacred. ‘Card-check’ would take away the private vote in union elections.”
Posey plans to join the House Republican Study Committee and help craft fresh conservative ideas for House GOPers — notably his vision for accountability reform. At a time when many say the party’s congressional leadership is lacking fresh ideas and Posey himself believes that “the House Republican leadership let people down by spending too much,” the 61-year-old freshman lawmaker could easily emerge as one of his party’s best “idea men” in the next Congress.