Republican state legislators in Georgia who want to cease direct elections of United States senators apparently have an ally in one of the state's Republican congressmen.
A YouTube video of a June 25, 2012 candidates' forum shows Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Geo.) announcing his support for the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which ended the practice of having state legislatures pick senators. The video was posted on YouTube by a user named Woodall Watch, who has posted a series of negative videos about Woodall. In the video, Woodall makes the same case that Georgia state Rep. Kevin Cooke (R-Carrollton), the main sponsor of the state resolution to repeal the 17th Amendment, has made.
"The accountability of state legislators is so much more than federal legislators," Woodall says at the forum.
Woodall recounts how the 17th Amendment was passed to combat state-level corruption involved in picking senators, including potential bribery by oil and railroad interests. Cooke made many similar arguments.
Woodall tells the audience that corruption has decreased in state legislatures and stressed that state lawmakers are more transparent. "You could not hide" in a state legislature, he says.
He also says that states' rights would increase if state legislatures went back to picking senators.
"You think the 10th Amendment would be in the danger it is? Do you think it would have disappeared?" Woodall says in the video. "Do you think states' rights would have disappeared if state legislatures still elected our United States senators? Do you think our United States senators would be difficult to contact if they were named by our state legislatures?"
During the same forum, Woodall also endorses ending all federal gun laws. Woodall's spokeswoman did not return messages left for comment on the congressman's position on the 17th Amendment. Woodall is a second-term congressman and has been named by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to the House Rules Committee, which is typically an arm of the House leadership.
He is not the only official to back repealing the 17th Amendment, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) backed the idea last year. Woodall's 2012 Democratic opponent, Steve Reilly, highlighted the 17th Amendment in a YouTube ad in August.
The state resolution calls for Congress to begin proceedings to repeal the 17th Amendment. It is one of several state-based pieces of legislation addressing U.S. Senate elections in recent years. Tennessee has legislation pending that would allow state lawmakers to pick general election candidates for Senate seats. A similar bill was defeated in New Hampshire last year.