Opinion: No mask could be a very costly choice for Greene

July 13, 2021 Rome - U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks during an Election Integrity Townhall meeting in Rome. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
July 13, 2021 Rome - U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks during an Election Integrity Townhall meeting in Rome. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The defiant stance taken against wearing a mask on the floor of the House by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, is turning out to be a financially costly one, as Greene is on pace to be fined as much as $100,000 this year — well over half of her Congressional salary of $174,000.

“The only time I wear a mask is when I have to fly,” Greene said this week, announcing that she had already been fined $60,500 as of November 15 — with that total going up $2,500 every day she violates the House rule on masks.

Greene also revealed that she has not been vaccinated against the Coronavirus, one of a handful of Republicans in Congress to publicly make that admission.

“I have not been making it public, but I started making it public because it’s such an issue,” Greene told her constituents in a telephone town hall meeting on Tuesday. “I’m not vaccinated, and I believe it’s up to every single American to make that choice on their own.”

Greene has filed a federal lawsuit against Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the fines for not wearing a mask on the U.S. House floor, arguing the financial penalties — which were authorized by a vote of the full House — are unconstitutional.

But the Constitution is pretty clear on the power of Congress to set rules and mete out discipline. “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings,” Article I, Section 5 states, including the power to “punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour.”

The mask fines get paid automatically, with the money garnished from Greene’s official paycheck.

While losing $100,000 is nothing to ignore, financial records show the Georgia Republican is not short on cash; Greene for example bought between $250,000 and $500,000 in U.S. Treasury bills in September.

Greene also was one of two members of Congress who bought stock in a company that plans to work with Donald Trump to set up a new social media venture, purchasing between $15,000 and $50,000 in DWAC.

But she bought the shares on the date the stock hit its high on October 22. The stock’s price has declined by one-third since then.

While many Republicans might support Greene’s crusade against the House floor mask rule, other than U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, most GOP lawmakers have avoided multiple mask fines.

As of November 15, Clyde had been fined over $15,000 for not wearing a mask. He could easily more than double that by Christmas.

The holidays may be a time for giving, but Greene and Clyde probably never imagined they would be sending huge amounts of money — in fines — to Uncle Sam.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com