It has bothered me for quite a while when a public servant pleads the 5th. It bothers me even more when said public official is charged with illegally feeding from the public trough, power abuse, nepotism, or any other use of their office for personal or political gain.
Don’t get me wrong, they should be allowed to plead the 5th. That is their Constitutional right as a citizen of these United States. The problem, is that there is no consequence for acting the fool with public money, power or trust. I have not had a good answer for this issue, but someone who I respect has a good idea.
The simplicity of this is outstanding. As a public official (at all levels), you maintain your right to refrain from self incrimination; but you lose your job AND the ability to serve in a public government capacity again.
That means you immediately lose your job. You lose any pension or perks obtained from that job. You lose the ability to ever be elected or appointed to another .gov job at any level or capacity. No you cannot ever be appointed as volunteer chief dog catcher. No you cannot plead the 5th as a mayor in New York and be elected to the school board in New Jersey.
I am willing to allow perks and retirements to continue from previous non-political government employment. So if you were a US Marine who retired with 25 years of service, them became a US Senator who pleaded the 5th pursuant to a vote buying scandal; your Marine Corp pension would remain valid. All senate perks would end within 24 hours of your 5th Amendment pleading. Your office would be cleared for you and your name would be added to the registry of “Abusers of the Public Trust”.
Much like the sex offender database, this would be a listing of all people who are barred from voluntary, salaried or otherwise serving where temptation to abuse the public trust might exist.
This really is no different then what happens with the military. As a member of the US military, you willingly agree to curbs put on your Constitutional Rights. You are no longer only subject to the Constitution, but also to the UCMJ. This means your First Amendment, Second Amendment and many other rights are seriously curtailed. By making the 5th Amendment provision proposed above, we would be holding public officials to a higher standard. Which is as it should be.