First, the Republicans reward Michigan Rep. Fred Upton for banning the light bulb, by putting him in charge of energy. Now they reward Illinois Rep. Tim Johnson for voting against farmers’ property rights, by putting him in charge of–-you guessed it–-farming.
Tim Johnson will head the Rural Development Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee. While this is far from a stellar position, the irony is just as palpable as in Upton’s case.
The bill Johnson voted against, an overhaul of the Endangered Species Act (HR 3824, 109th Congress), would have reimbursed property owners when the ESA infringes on their ability to develop their property. And as Nancy Marano and Ben Lieberman of the Heritage Foundation point out, the bill also would have done away with “flawed critical habitat designations, strengthening scientific standards, and returning decisions to the state and local governments that are better suited to address them. As well, [the bill] would serve landowners by increasing openness and accountability across ESA processes and improving the protection of private property rights.” The American Conservative Union listed this legislation among its “top 25″ watershed votes of 2005.
Despite Johnson’s turning his back on such a fundamental liberty as the right to own property, the Republican establishment apparently sees nothing wrong with putting Johnson in charge of a subcommittee that, as stated in Illinois’ News-Gazette, “deals with issues such as rural development programs…and family farming matters.”
On the surface, it’s mind-boggling that anyone, let alone a Republican, could vote against such an innocuous piece of legislation. But if you’re looking for motive, here’s an interesting tidbit. According to Marano and Liberman, one of the many benefits of the legislation is that it would result in fewer lawsuits.
And according to opensecrets.org, guess who was the number one donor to Johnson’s 2004 campaign? You guessed it. Lawyers. $32,458.
So thank you, GOP Establishment, for taking the power of the Tea Party mandate and squandering it on still another hollow-souled, Tuesday-Group moderate.