- Associated Press - Sunday, July 10, 2016

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Already taking heat from some voters by appearing to waffle on a promise to leave Washington after six years, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin also broke a 2011 pledge to support an amendment setting term limits for all of Congress, an advocacy group says.

The two-term Republican signed the pledge while campaigning for the seat in Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District, promising to co-sponsor and vote for imposing a limit of no more than three House terms and two Senate terms for lawmakers. But when the Florida-based nonprofit that drafted the pledge contacted Mullin’s office last year to find out why he hadn’t done anything, it said there was no response.

“(Mullin) is one of the worst in the country (in breaking his pledge),” said Nick Tomboulides, executive director of U.S. Term Limits, the largest term-limit advocacy group in the country. “He’s the only candidate in the country who might break two separate term limits pledges. He broke ours; he might break his own.”

Before the primary election, Mullin told The Associated Press that he planned to leave after three terms. But he refused to rule out seeking a fourth term in office, telling a local radio host on June 29 - the day after he won his primary - that even though his “mind hasn’t changed” about leaving Congress in 2018, he and his wife would continue to pray about what to do.

Possibly seeking a fourth term in Congress in 2018 would enable Mullin and others to help the economy and get “bureaucrats under control,” he said on the radio show.

Numerous messages seeking comment on both of his pledges were not returned by Mullin’s campaign or his Washington office. The week before, a spokesman said Mullin was on vacation for the holiday and unavailable to comment.

The term limits group introduced the proposed amendment in 2010 and so far, about 40 lawmakers have signed it. Mullin, who owns a plumbing business, also told voters while campaigning in 2012 that he’d leave Washington after three terms.

He was joined in the self-imposition of term limits in 2012 by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine. Bridenstine, a Navy pilot who upset a five-term incumbent, has said he plans to go into the private sector and continue to serve in the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 2018.

Some longer-serving politicians and voters have questioned the effectiveness of self-imposed term limits, saying a constant rotation of lawmakers diminishes the power that Oklahoma’s all-GOP delegation can have in Washington.

But Tomboulides said the “lure of power in Washington” becomes too great for some lawmakers.

“It’s a seniority-based system, guys waited a dozen years or more,” he said. “They don’t want to be termed out when they’re on the cusp of power.”

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