After The Intercept published a bombshell report based on a call between big donors and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, most conservative media understandably focused on Manchin’s willingness to lower the filibuster threshold from 60 to 55 votes.

Manchin’s shifting mindset on the filibuster is no doubt disturbing, but for me, that’s not the most troubling part of the call. Most troubling is Manchin’s suggestion that donors use their money and influence to pressure a sitting member of the U.S. Senate to shift his position on the January 6 commission.

From the report:

When it came to Sen. Roy Blunt, a moderate Missouri Republican who voted no on the commission, Manchin offered a creative solution. “Roy Blunt is a great, just a good friend of mine, a great guy,” Manchin said. “Roy is retiring. If some of you all who might be working with Roy in his next life could tell him, that’d be nice and it’d help our country. That would be very good to get him to change his vote. And we’re going to have another vote on this thing. That’ll give me one more shot at it.”

Manchin speaks in coded language here, so I’ll translate: “Roy is retiring, so anyone who’s planning to offer him a cushy lobbying position should use that leverage to pressure him to change his vote on the commission.”

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The commission itself doesn’t really matter. They could be talking about Sen. Blunt’s position on chocolate ice cream or immigration. What matters is that a sitting U.S. senator is asking his donors to use their money to influence another sitting U.S. senator.

I’m not naïve. I know this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s part of the reason I started the Convention of States Project to decentralize power and pull the rug from big-money lobbyists. But Sen. Manchin’s comments should still disturb freedom-loving Americans who care about the rule of law and the disease of money in politics.

If Sen. Blunt succumbs to the pressure, it means he’s putting money above the will of his constituents. He’d be trading his solemn duty to his voters and the Constitution for a high-paying job and a pat on the back.

I hope he doesn’t, but the fact that Sen. Manchin even suggested the move means that 1) he believes Sen. Blunt would be susceptible to this kind of corruption, and 2) Sen. Manchin has used this strategy before—either for his own gain or for that of a colleague.

Of course, we can’t expect the corporate media to hold our federal politicians accountable. As of this writing, none of the mainstream media outlets have even mentioned The Intercept report, much less commented on Sen. Manchin’s clear suggestion of corruption. They’re far more concerned with the latest news about the Capitol riots, “dangerous” new COVID variants, and the latest new environmental catastrophe to do their actual job and call attention to the rampant corruption in Washington.

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That’s why it’s up to We the People, and our most powerful tool is an Article V Convention of States. Called and controlled by the states, a Convention of States has the power to propose constitutional amendments to decentralize power away from Washington. With power dispersed among the 50 states, big-money lobbyists will have a much more difficult time using bags of cash to dictate policy.

Right now, they can offer a single senator a cushy, post-retirement job, and influence the direction of the entire country. After a Convention of States, they’ll have to influence representatives in all 50 state legislatures—a virtually impossible task.

We don’t need to make corruption any more illegal. With a Convention of States, we can make it impossible by ensuring the people’s representatives are there to represent their constituents—not line their pockets.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.