Boycott Watch
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Buying Votes:
How the Humane Society Purchased Legislation and Congress.
Editorial by Fred Taub,
President, Boycott Watch

    The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports today that Ohio Rep Marcy Kaptur (D) from Toledo "Responded to a plea from the Humane Society of the United States by inserting anti-de-clawing language into a bill that finances the Department of Housing and Urban Development." Boycott Watch questions why cat de-clawing is the business of Congress? Don't our legislators have anything else to worry about, such as high gas prices, problems in Iran and Iraq, and a host of other major issues? Why is Congress micromanaging HUD?

   De-clawing is generally done by homeowners and renters who have to pay for the damage their pets may cause using their claws, such as to shredded screens, scratched walls, doors and fixtures, as well as damaged furniture. The people who live in HUD dwellings, however, are not paying for such repairs anyhow, so they have no incentive to stop their pets from causing any damage whatsoever. HUD management, however, has an interest in preventing damage to the property they manage. Kaptur is essentially, therefore, trying to implement law that is not only unnecessary, but would cause undue government waste when she should be government waste, or better yet do nothing and allow HUD officials to continue to do their jobs themselves without gratuitous interference. Besides, HUD maintenance crews are busy enough as is. They do not need the extra work, not to mention the budget, to repair things that should never have been ruined in the first place.

    The reason for the de-clawing legislation may stem from favors owned to a campaign contributor - Ms. Kaptur received a $500 campaign donation from the Humane USA Political Action Committee in the 2005-2006 and $1000 in the 2004-2005 campaign cycles. Voting along the ideologies of campaign contributors or people supporting politicians with their same views is normal and part of our political system. What makes this different is that in this case, there is no issue - Kaptur is proposing legislation for a problem that simply does not exist. This legislation stems from the direct request of a campaign contributor, thus it clearly appears to be a case of a special interest buying legislation and a Congressional representative selling her office.

    The Humane USA Political Action Committee donates to a large number of candidates, both Democrats and Republicans. Considering whom they gave money to and how much, we can only conclude that Humane USA is out to buy votes, and Kaptur was apparently purchased. Let's examine the record.

   In the 2005-2006 campaign cycle, Humane USA gave $37,750 to 26 Congressional campaigns, just under $1,500 on average. More powerful candidates, however, received the most substantial donations, and in particular Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) received the single largest campaign donation at $10,000, probably because it takes a lot of money to get the attention of by Senator Byrd. Kaptur, on the other hand, is from Toledo, a small city and she is relatively unknown nationally. For her, even small donations of $500 are important, but she probably wanted to get back into the $1000 club, which she was at in the previous election cycle, which was by far the standard donation at 11 people, as almost half of the donations were at that level.

   This is not just a matter of government waste - this is a matter of people in Washington who do not manage HUD property trying to tell those who do manage the property how to do their jobs, while at the same time authorizing government wasteful spending. What's next - legislation about which hand HUS carpenters use while using a hammer?

   If people living in HUD properties want cats but do not want to have them de-clawed, then they can get a different pet. Congress has more important things to do than worry about cats - let HUD officials do their jobs - they are the experts, not Congress.

   What this is really about is special interests buying votes, and the ten minutes or so needed to vote the amendment probably cost taxpayers billions of dollars because the real business cutting wasteful spending was never addressed, and it will cost taxpayers millions of more dollars in what would have been unnecessary HUD repairs. In the end, tax payers will have pay the bill for the damage, so when your taxes go up along with the federal deficit, not to mention more government red tape for no reason whatsoever, you will know who to thank - Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). You can thank her directly by calling her Washington DC office at (202) 225-4146.

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 ©2007 Boycott Watch