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Chelsea Manning files to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland (washingtonpost.com)
169 points by aaronbrethorst 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments

She's running in a primary challenge against an established Democrat who has been active in Maryland politics since the 1960s and has never lost an election.

On top of that, polling suggests that a majority of Americans, including just under 50% of Democrats, opposed clemency for Manning.

This is not going to end well. If she's serious about a career as an elected official, this is not the right way to go about it. I suspect she does not expect to win and this is really an attempt to gain national recognition as an activist.

I think that she is running and knows that she will lose but use the opportunity to push ideas that her opponent will adopt. Sort of like a sacrifice fly but in politics. The Green party I think has done this in the past.

For the duration of the campaign, maybe, and then only if Manning is an actual electoral threat and people agree with the positions she has on important issues.

Probably not, but one should never discount the power of name recognition, combined with symbolism, acting in lieu of traditional qualifications (see "Donald Trump").

Two of the largest counties in Maryland touch DC: Montgomery and PG (Prince George's) County with lots of people with 3-letter gov't agency ties.

The other major population area, Baltimore (City) and Baltimore County, are difficult to see going for her currently thin resume/positions on the issues affecting them.

Most three letter agencies aren't spy agencies but science ones -- and those do tend to skew left.

She's not running against a republican in the primaries.

Thin resume? She's literally got a Nelson Mandela-style resume for the position now...

Cardin has name recognition in Maryland, people have seen his name on the ballot for decades

I dunno, it seems fairly sane to stand first in places you are guaranteed not to win, if you want to get started in politics. Lowest risk method of getting experience and people are impressed if you poll anything at all.

As a Marylander whose election district is gerrymandered to hell, a symbolic vote that doesn’t matter seems better than a “real” vote that doesn’t matter: https://anthonybrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/MD-4-Dis....

What does gerrymandering have to do with a statewide, popular-vote race?

OP implied that voting for Chelsea Manning would be pointless since she has no chance of winning. My point is that my vote for Congressman doesn't matter anyway, so a purely symbolic vote for Chelsea Manning is at least as valuable.

> This is not going to end well.

What do you mean?

> If she's serious about a career as an elected official, this is not the right way to go about it.

Why not?

There is no right way to go about it unless your family is in politics. Every single character who has entered political life for the first time has to fight establised power centers.

That's not true for (in reverse order) Obama, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, Eisenhower, Truman, Hoover, Harding, Wilson, etc. I could go on. That's most of the 21st- and 20th-century presidents. Their families were not part of the political establishment.

The right way is to aim lower initially.

She's off to a good start, and this is not going to end anytime soon. Contrast that with Arapaio who is running in Arizona and is very old.

She has no experience, a felony conviction for violating the Espionage Act, and a dishonorable discharge.

Maryland is home to a huge number of defense and intelligence workers. According to Wikipedia, Fort Meade (which is the headquarters of the NSA) is the state's biggest employer.

I'm not hopeful.

Maryland is home to a huge number of defense and intelligence workers.

This was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the headline, it's like that common line thrown at stand-up comedians (note: This is not me calling Chelsea Manning a 'joke' or making light of her situation and what she went through): know your room. That constituency does NOT seem like one that will vote for this particular candidate.

Nonetheless, I commend her willingness to step up to the plate, I can see a lot of valuable conversations coming out of the race.

With her conviction she's gonna fit right in there. :)


This is awesome. Whether or not you believe her actions were good for the country (I believe they were), this is a good example for all counties about how committed we are as a nation to democracy.

The framers designed our government to overthrow itself every few years, and I believe it was intentional that we could elect somebody who has been tried and convicted of crimes to represent us as citizens, if we wish to do so. I'm not a resident of Maryland, and will not be in a position to evaluate and vote on the candidates, but I do think the fact that this race is possible is something we can take real pride in.

> The framers designed our government to overthrow itself every few years

At the risk of being pedantic...

Peaceful and systematic replacement is not the same phenomenon as overthrow.

Personal/political opinions about this aside (helllll yeaaa!) its odd that she'd file and then just be silent on social media all day. Did she/her-team not expect this public record to get noticed till next week? Where is the website? Was this a very last minute decision?

Wouldn't she have trouble getting a security clearance? I'm under the impression that many Senators receive secure briefings.

She would have trouble getting one, but she doesn't need one. Only a few senators are given access to every classified program. Most senators can request specific accesses if their work/committee requires it, but aren't given access to everything by default- the DoD would need a good reason to deny the clearance, and Manning's case probably counts as a good reason. Even if Manning won she would be a junior senator and not put on any important defense related committees so she wouldn't have a need for a clearance most of the time.

Security clearance doesn’t work that way you still need to be given specific access to compartmentalized information, pretty much anything that is codeword or higher has to be individually read into.

Basically you can have 2 people with the same base clearance but they would have completely different access to information. The security clearance doesn’t even give you access to information by having it, it simply means that you have passed the risk assessment which means you can be cleared to handle classified information and you would handle it in a legal and responsible manner, which regardless what you think about Manning that is clearly not the case.

I think she’s a good person and the way she was treated by pretty much everyone from Wikileaks to Adrian lamo to the media and the military and court system was horrific.

But none of that qualifies her for public office and I think it’s a mistake for her to run. If she even comes close to winning, she’s going to be raked over the coals again by her opponents and the media.

Has a convicted felon ever been elected as a U.S. senator before?

Tons of congressman have DUI and assault charges, so I assume yes.

I'm more curious do you have to pass a background check to be a representative?

It likely depends on what specific committees you want to serve on. It would be pretty much impossible for her to serve on say the house intelligence committee (who oversees DIRNSA and ODNI etc) as there is no feasible way she will gain a security clearance. That might not prevent her from serving faithfully on non-classified committees doing dull but necessary things our bureaucrats do to run the government.

As far as I could find, there are four GOP congressmen running with records (sans Chelsea), and one Democrat:

* Joe Arpaio (R) - Contempt of court: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/us/sheriff-joe-arpaio-con...

* Don Blankenship (R) - Conspiricy to violate federal mine safety laws: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/07/us/donald-blankenship-sen...

* Michael Grimm (R) - Felony tax fraud: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/01/nyregion/staten-island-co...

* Greg Gianforte (R) - Assault of a reporter critical to him: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/us/politics/greg-gianfort...

* David Alcorn (D) - stalking: http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/13/dem-candidate-arrested-on-...

Thanks for the list, just thought I would point out there was a bit of momentary confusion over the phrasing "critical to" vs "critical of".

The former implies the reporter was an important asset to Gianforte and that's how I parsed it at first.

I’ve never heard of a background check for an elected representative.

It is a bit strange that someone who can’t vote (a felon) could be elected and then vote on our behalf.

> It is a bit strange that someone who can’t vote (a felon)

Most states allow felons to vote: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony_disenfranchisement#In_t...

They'd have to get background checks to serve on any committee which handles any sort of classified information. They'd need a clearance to head into the SCIF: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitive_Compartmented_Inform...

That isn't really correct, as I understand it. The staffers get background checks, the senators and representatives take a secrecy oath in lieu of a process administered by the executive.

And really, with the separation of powers, how else would it work? The legislators are supposed to oversee things the executive does, do you think that it would be constitutional for the executive to tell the legislature to go fly a kite if the legislature asked to be told things? That, itself, could/would be unconstitutional...

edit: source: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intellig...

Is someone with a presidential pardon still considered a felon? I know the pardon does not erase the conviction, but since a pardon seems to erase the most significant consequences, does it erase all consequences?

A pardon erases prison time, it does not erase any fines resulting from said crime, and also is admitting guilt to the crime[1]. One of the biggest things a pardon does as a result of that (like a guilty plea does as well) is open you up to civil suits. Also, accepting a pardon prevents you from pleading the 5th on any further or follow up charges related to said crime. It is a pretty slippery slope actually. Your question is an interesting one, but one better suited for a Constitutional law scholar such as Professor Lawrence Tribe (runs the constitutional law program at Harvard).

[1] Burdick vs United States: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=392852811788210...

That is the usual interpretation of that case, but not the only one.


Manning was not pardoned. But that's all rather moot. People have run for office from prison (and won).

Thank you for pointing that out. It does look like Obama commuted her sentence, and did not pardon her. I guess I had either heard or remembered incorrectly.

Even a pardon doesn’t remove the conviction. Trump pardoned Arpaio and Arpaio tried to have the conviction vacated as well but the judge refused.

My original question wasn't about the actual conviction, but rather about all penalties typically associated with the conviction. I've found several other sources online, though I don't know how credible because IANAL, that suggest a pardon could restore rights typically lost to felons, like the right to vote.

Why do you think the right to vote is related to the ability to run for federal office? They don't appear to be. I'm no sort of legal expert myself but it seems states have significant say in who gets to vote - a thread that runs through the entirety of US history, is the subject of several constitutional amendments and continues to this day.

The qualifications to run for Congress, on the other hand, are explicitly spelled out in the original document. It's not clear to me anything other than a federal law can add any additional restrictions like, say, the Hatch Act does.

Can federal law add restrictions beyond those in the Constitution for eligibility to Congress? I didn't think it could.

I threw this in mostly as a hedge so that someone who knows better doesn't slap me around with the Hatch act.

It seems like the converse is true, though, states don't get to define qualifications - U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995)

"Second, even if the States possessed some original power in this area, it must be concluded that the Framers intended the Constitution to be the exclusive source of qualifications for Members of Congress, and that the Framers thereby "divested" States of any power to add qualifications."

Manning received clemency, therefore has re-gained all rights that were "lost," including the right to vote (as well as run for office).

Most states restore voting rights for felons after a period of time.

I've always considered it against the American spirit to strip any citizen of the right to vote.

There is no constitutional barrier to Manning becoming a senator if she wins an election.

This is unresponsive. I'm asking how many Americans voted into public office someone known at the time to be a criminal of the highest degree (e.g., someone convicted of espionage and aiding the enemy like Manning).

Alcee Hastings, impeached, convicted, and removed from the Federal judiciary, was subsequently elected to the House.


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