The major party candidates to replace Oregon’s former First Congressional District Rep. David Wu—Democrat Suzanne Bonamici and Republican Rob Cornilles—have captured most of the media attention and donor support. But WW also took the time last week to interview the third-party candidates in the race who will also appear on the ballot for the Jan. 31 special election: Progressive Party candidate Steven Cody Reynolds of Portland and Libertarian Party candidateJames Foster of Beaverton.
Reynolds, pictured above, is an unemployed former office administrator and expat English teacher who was recruited to carry the Progressive platform in the Congressional race.
As we learned in our interview, Reynolds' résumé carries a distinction many candidates would omit:
He is probably the only West Point graduate to run for Congress after getting busted in Tennessee while attempting to smuggle 11 lbs. of weed across the country.
Reynolds says his chief qualification for the job is his willingness to tell the truth. Here’s how he related the story of his felony drug bust in our interview last week:
Both Foster and Reynolds favor marijuana legalization.
In case you were wondering, a felony conviction–even imprisonment–is not a disqualification from holding office in Congress. Today’s civics lesson from the Congressional Research Service (pdf):
Since the United States Constitution sets out the only three qualifications for congressional office (age, citizenship and inhabitancy), the conviction of a crime which constitutes a felony, can not constitutionally “disqualify” one from being a Member of Congress (unless that conviction is for certain treasonous conduct after having taken an oath of office).
Once a person meets the three constitutional qualifications of age, citizenship and inhabitancy in the State when elected, that person, if duly elected, is constitutionally “qualified”to serve in Congress, even if a convicted felon.
Similar to the fact of a felony conviction, the fact that an individual is in prison, in and of itself, is also not necessarily a constitutional bar to or an automatic disqualification from running for and being elected to Congress. In fact, as early as 1798 a Member of the House was re-elected to Congress while imprisoned within his home State. Representative Matthew Lyon, an outspoken Republican critic of the Federalists, and particularly of President John Adams, was convicted and imprisoned on October 9, 1798, under the so-called “Sedition Act” for “libeling” President Adams.