Wednesday, November 30, 2005

DeLauro Involved in Arizona Land Giveaway

This comes to me from Porkopolis, a nonpartisan Ohio-based site monitoring pork barrel spending in Congress.

The recent agriculture appropriations bill (H.R. 2744) has a provision (SEC. 783) in it that transfers the Western Cotton Research Laboratory (WCRL), to two lobbying organizations: the Arizona Cotton Growers Association (ACGA) and Supima.
...
To justify the conveyance (the terminology used in the legislation) of the WCRL, Congressman Pastor of Arizona, Congresswoman DeLauro of Connecticut, Congressman Kolbe of Arizona and Congressman Bonilla of Texas, at a minimum, told their colleagues in the House of Representatives that the land for the WCRL was originally donated to the U.S. Government by the ACGA and Supima. The donation was for the purpose of building a research facility that would benefit the cotton growing membership of these two lobbying organizations.
...
But what the representatives conveniently left out when making their argument for the conveyance is that the ACGA and Supima will continue to benefit from the research conducted at the new Western Cotton Research Laboratory which will be relocated at the U.S. Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center.
...
The actions taken in this conveyance represent an abdication of government oversight at best and lobbying influence at the taxpayers' expense at worst.

Essentially, these two lobbying organizations have seen a sizable return on their initial donation. They get, free of charge, a research facility and improvements made to the land by the federal government. It's all a little shady-see the site for full details. Porkopolis has tried without success to get DeLauro's press people to explain.

Check out the AZ Tribune story, also posted by Porkopolis. Interesting stuff, to be sure.

There is little chance that a faraway land deal with lobbyists will hurt the extremely popular DeLauro, especially as she continues to make most of her headlines from her fight against Wal-Mart. Still, an explanation is in order.

Update: Apparently, DeLauro put her name on this as a favor to another Arizona congressman. Therefore, I'm not quite so sure that this is a story worth following, but I'll keep track of it anyway.

13 comments:

Porkopolis said...

Here's an update on my attempts to get an official response from Congresswoman DeLauro:

On 11/29/2005, I emailed the following to her press secretary, Ms. Kate Cyrul:

Ms. Cyrul:

I've left a message earlier this week for you on your voicemail.

I'm requesting an official response from Congresswoman DeLauro on the following:

Did Congresswoman DeLauro offer up House Amendment 230 to H.R.2744RH (The Agriculture Appropriations Bill voted out of her ubcommittee) with full knowledge of the following:

1. That her amendment would allow for the conveyance of federal land and facilities to two lobbyists in Arizona, the Arizona Cotton Growers Association and Supima, totally free of charge from any of the improvements the American taxpayers had made to the originally donated land.

2. That the sale of the federal land and facilities was originally intended to help pay for the building of a new facility to do the exact same research, as originally intended by the Agriculuture Department budget request, as voted out of her subcommittee and detailed in SEC. 757 of the committee report.

3. That the taxpayers are now paying for a new research facility that will benefit the same lobbyists that benefited from the federal land and facility giveaway?

I would like to post Congresswoman DeLauro's full and unedited response to these specific questions on my blog and give her every opportunity to explain her amendment.


Here is the response Ms. Cyrul provided:

Mario,

This amendment was offered at the request of Representative Pastor, who could not be on the House floor when the Agriculture Appropriations bill was under consideration. It was offered as a courtesy. Since the amendment concerns an Arizona issue, any questions regarding its specifics should be directed to Arizona's representatives. Thanks.


This was a non-responsive response, in my opinion.

I then emailed her back with the following:

Thank you for your response.

However, she did end up voting for her own amendment, the House version of the bill and the House-Senate conference version of the bill. Which means she ultimately agreed with the provision...that is if votes still count as support of what the legislation says it will do.

What standard/criterion does Ms. DeLauro use when offering up an amendment on behalf of a colleague? As an average citizen who is not fully aware of the inner workings of Congress, it seems to me that this practice could end up in a situation that has one representative having to answer for the actions on another. Not quite sure if that's what the Constitution had in mind when it structured our representative form of government.

Were there no co-sponsors of H.R.400, Mr. Pastor's original bill to convey the facility, available to offer the amendment? H.R. 400 was co-sponsored by every member of the Arizona delegation.

And why was the provision Ms. DeLauro offered not offered in her subcommittee?

As it was voted out of her committee (H.R.2744RH) the original intent was to sell the facility. As requested by the Agriculture Department:

"SEC. 757. Notwithstanding 40 U.S.C. 524, 571, and 572, the Secretary of Agriculture may sell the US Water Conservation Laboratory, Phoenix, Arizona, and the Western Cotton Research Center, Phoenix, Arizona, and credit the net proceeds of such sales as offsetting collections to its Agricultural Research Service Buildings and Facilities account. Such funds shall be available until September 30, 2007 to be used to replace these facilities and to improve other USDA-owned facilities."

Did Ms. DeLauro vote in favor of the original provision in committee only to offer an amendment to change it later?

Does Ms. DeLauro know that the same lobbyists that benefitted from her, oh I'm sorry...I meant Mr. Pastor's, amendment contributed over $21,000 to Mr. Pastor's campaigns since 1997?

Is Ms. DeLauro at all concerned that all the improvements and buildings on the federal facility, the Western Cotton Research Lab, (improvements and buildings paid for by the taxpayers) now belong to the lobbyists...free of charge?

I would appreciate it if my specific questions could be addressed with Ms. DeLauro's specific actions.


I will post any response to this follow-up here.

Anonymous said...

Why does Genghis hate Democrats?

TrueBlueCT said...

"This comes to me from Porkopolis, a nonpartisan Ohio-based site monitoring pork barrel spending in Congress."

Genghis, I used to admire your intelligence. However, non-partisan sites don't link to: Little Green Footballs, the Weekly Standard, Michelle Malkin, the National Review, Instapundit, Red-State.com, Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth, Power Line, etc.

I understand how Porkopolis's distaste for George W. Bush might have confused you, but he is still a Republican hack.

If you actually believe what the pig-guy says, you should have at least made the allegations in your own name. Shame on you!

Genghis Conn said...

For the record, "Porkopolis" did inform me that he covers both Republican and Democratic pork, but that he himself is a conservative/ libertarian. I checked out his site and that seems pretty true.

National politics really is an infectious disease, isn't it? It drives us all to mania. Sheesh.

TrueBlueCT said...

Porkopolis is a liar, and if you can't see his website for what it is, you are a fool. Sorry Genghis, I wish it weren't so.

Jean Schmidt is a freakshow that only a diehard Republican could love.

In this year's special election Paul Hackett-D, almost won in the heavily Republican District. Schmidt is that bad. She makes Katherine Harris look like a lovely person.

(OH-2 voted 2-1 for Bush in 2004. Schmidt got just 52%.)

ctblogger said...

Genghis,

Porkopolis is not a non-partian blog by any means and is a well known shameless conservative site which leans heavily to the right with its analysis.

I don't have a problem with you linking to that or any site whether it be conservative or liberal but to call that particular blog non-partisan is simply incorrect and I respectfully encourage you to take a look at that site again.

Any site the FREQUENTLY links to LGF, Drudge, Rush, Michelle Malkin, Instapundit, Red-State.com, Rush Limbaugh clearly is not non-partisan.

Check out his positngs on Jean Schmidt Town Hall meeitng where he clearly mocks anyone who is critical of her.

ctblogger said...

Also, your update is correct, I looked into this and it seems to be a non story. DeLauro just hooked up a Congressman from Arizona which is quite common in Congress.

Porkopolis is nothing more than a conservative bomb thrower. Saying you're a libertarian is a nice way of saying your a wingnut and is there is NO way you can seperate your personal opinion from a blog (believe me I try every day to no success).

Other famous libertarians (aka wingnuts):

Sean Hannity
Matt Drudge
Michael Savage
Bill O'Reilly

Porkopolis said...

I initially posted a response to TrueBlueCT in the

Open Forum as well.

I would hope TrueBlueCT puts as much energy in refuting the allegation that Ms. DeLauro facilitated the transfer of federal land to two lobbyists as he does attacking a fellow citizen from the opposite side of the political spectrum.

At a minimum, Ms. DeLauro judgment has to be called into question. The power to offer amendments and have them passed via voice vote, as was illustrated in my post, can and has been abused to the detriment of the American taxpayer.

TrueBlueCT, as a former liberal, I know EXACTLY where you're coming from. I used to use the same form of arguments...attacking the messenger and not even looking at an argument if it was made by someone I didn't agree with.

I just challenge you to look at the facts.

As I noted in my comments, I'm prepared to make a full public apology to Ms. DeLauro if what I'm asserting is not accurate and fact-based.

I've even posted her press secretaries full, unedited response here and even offered them to Ghengis before he made his post...which should show that my motiviation is to fully disclose everything associated with the sweetheart deal.

To Genghis:

I appreciate your link and sorry for the grief you're getting.

TrueBlueCT said...

Porko--

You don't get it, do you.

You can't come in here with a LIE, (that somehow you are non-partisan), and then expect us to take your attack seriously when we discover you are a LIAR.

It's like going to a Yankees game, pretending you don't have a team, subsequently rooting your ass off for the Red Sox, and then wondering why people are throwing shit at you...

Thanks for the entertainment!

P.S. I just read your thread about how CT should have sacrificed our sub base for the good of America. Sorry porko, we're keeping our CT jobs.

Porkopolis said...

TrueBlueCT:

I've never passed myself off as non-partisan...that was Genghis' mis-characterization, on which I quickly corrected him on via email.

Now think about what you're saying...it doesn't make any sense...

I offer a link to my blog, of which I fully support 100% of everything I've written, expecting people to come over and think I'm non-partisan...COME ON NOW...get real already!

Here's excatly what I said to Genghis via email:

"I run Porkopolis, an Ohio based blog that takes no prisoners (thought you might appreciate the pun), Republicans or Democrats, when it comes to pork barrel spending."

I stand by that 100%. What don't you understand!?!?

I'm simply asking that Ms. DeLauro explain her actions in the context of the harm that her amendment has created.

If you're OK with her participating in the transfer of our land to lobbyists...no need to continue this thread.

Otherwise...if you want to discuss the issues and the facts...I'm all game.

Ghengis:

Once again...thanks for your indulgence...By no means did I intend to have this thread go off in this direction.

Let me know when I've worn out my welcome...and I'll respectfully desist.

Porkopolis said...

For completeness:

Here is the email sent to Genghis its full unedited version:

"Genghis Conn (love the handle!):

I run Porkopolis, an Ohio based blog that takes no prisoners (thought you might appreciate the pun), Republicans or Democrats, when it comes to pork barrel spending.

The reason I'm contacting you is that I've found a provision in the recent Ag Appropriations bill signed into law that has Ms. DeLauro's fingerprints all over it. The provision, offered up as House Amendment 230 to H.R.2744RH by Ms. DeLauro, allowed for the Western Cotton Research Lab to be transferred, free of charge, to two lobbyists in Arizona. We're talking about millions of dollars here and a sweet-make your teeth hurt-sweetheart deal.

The full details (along with a link to an article from the Arizona Tribune on my coverage) can be found on my site at:

http://porkopolis.blogspot.com/2005/11/federal-land-and-facility-giveaway-to.html

I'm sharing this with you because I think Ms. DeLauro's constituents should know about her lack of judgment and about how she facilitated a case of clear fiscal abuse.

If after you've reviewed the post(s) you find it worthy of sharing with your readers, I would appreciate you sharing my findings.

My motivation is to simply apply the old adage that "Sunshine is the best disinfectant" to our pork barrel politics.

Thanks for your consideration.

Mario Delgado
Cincinnati (once known as Porkopolis), Ohio
Porkopolis: http://porkopolis.blogspot.com"

TrueBlueCT said...

El Porko--

Of course you have been LYING. Where on your website do you call yourself a Republican? Even one who might be committed to fighting both sides against Pork?

That's right, you don't. Instead, in typical Bill O'Lielly fashion, you pretend to be a non-partisan. But of course, that's just not true.

Seven acres of Arizona land got transferred back to the Cotton Grower's Associaton from which it came. And they got a new facility to boot! Hey, agricultural subsidies? Should they happen? Hell, I don't know.

But instead of laying this off at the feet of your two Ohio Republican Senators who, according to your website, joined the 97-0 vote for the Appropriations Bill, ("Senators DeWine and Voinovich vote to transfer federal property and land to lobbying groups"), you instead choose to come and blame my Rosa DeLauro for this "underhanded" activity? WTF?

Heck, even Jean Schmidt, your "Flag Lady Congresswoman", voted for the legislation.

Keep to Ohio. Your own GOP is a mess. And shame on you, and Genghis for trying to create a DeLauro scandal out of pure bull-shit.

Porkopolis said...

TrueBlueCT:

Actually this response is directed to the lone brain cell in you mind than can process
information rationally. I know it's in there, because it was in me when I was once a zealous liberal like yourself that threw out accusations at the drop of a hat.

I'm appealing to the brain cell in you that says, "You know, maybe that right to bear arms is not such a bad idea" when it wakes up in the middle of the night and hears an intruder in the house.

I'm appealing to the brain cell that looks at a pay stub and wonders if it will ever see any personal benefit from years of paying Social Security taxes.

I'm appealing to the lone brain cell that is an island of rational thought in a sea of reactionary and irrational neurons; neurons that frankly 'Doth protest
too much' and 'Are too cute by half'.

Allow me to call that lonely brain cell 'Reason'.

If you would have given 'Reason' half a chance, 'Reason' would have clicked on
the 'Who/Why' link at the very top of my web site and found the following:

----------------
Who?:

Mario Delgado, [email], a Cincinnati-area resident, libertarian, husband, father of three and pissed-off tax payer.

Why?:

Got tired of calling my Congressman/Senators and not even getting the courtesy of a form letter. I believe in the old adage that "Sunshine is the best disinfectant".

For more, please see Welcome.

-----------------

Following the Welcome
link would have brought 'Reason' to a detailed backgrounder on Porkopolis. That same backgrounder contains a fiscal conservative's case against my then Republican Congressman Rob Portman. In it I note my disappointment with him and state, "Individuals like myself in the district will strongly support you if you come back to being the fiscal conservative we voted in.

The assertion that "Of course you have been LYING. Where on your website do you call yourself a Republican? Even one who might be committed to fighting both sides against Pork?" just doesn't stand the laugh test.

The assertion, having been discredited, also has nothing to do with the facts against all the individuals involved in the federal land giveaway to two
Arizona lobbyists. The assertion is a smoke screen...a straw man that seeks to keep 'Reason' at bay.

But 'Reason' is no ordinary brain cell in TrueBlueCT's mind. While
TrueBlueCT sleeps at night, it continues to work and mull over the facts that have already sneaked in. While TrueBlueCT's defenses are down, 'Reason' will continue to build allies amongst the other brain cells and at some time in the future, and if TrueBlueCT is lucky, a self-initiated thought (a collection of 'Reason'-like cells) will revolt and say, "Hey!; those facts just don't fit with my 'purer than the first snow in New England' impression of Congresswoman DeLauro."

Now here are the facts that are being kept from 'Reason' and which I have documented in detail at Porkopolis:

Ms. DeLauro just happens to be one individual in a cast of many that has to answer for their actions. I have not singled her out, but I'm also not prepared to give her a pass. And if you give 'Reason' half a chance, I'm certain that that lonely brain cell will find some problems with the following:

1. My initial post on 11/13/2005, Senators
DeWine and Voinovich vote to transfer federal property and land to lobbying groups
, took my two Republican Senators to task for supporting the transfer of the federal land, and all the improvements on that land, to two lobbyists in Arizona.

2. My first update to that post on 11/16/2005 took my Republican Congresswoman, Jean Schmidt, to task for voting for the provision that transferred the land free of charge. During Jean Schmidt's run for Congress I personally interviewed her and warned her to read every piece of legislation; warning her to look out for provisions like the one that has given our land to lobbyists free of
charge. (You can read the interview at: Candidate
Jean Schmidt
. In the interview I specifically asked Jean to take the Porkopolis
pledge
to read every Congressional bill before she voted on it.)

I did not keep this information, that shed a bad light on my own Congresswoman, away from my neighbors in the District...and Ms. Schmidt only voted for the final bill...she wasn't even in Congress when the Ms. DeLauro was getting involved...more on that in a moment.

3. My second update on 11/19/2005, Curiouser
and Curiouser
(almost a full week after my initial post), is where I start uncovering what Sir Walter Scott once pointed out as the "...tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!"

This is where I find out that Congresswoman DeLauro offered up House Amendment 230, on June 8, 2005, to change the language that would have allowed the same facility to be SOLD instead of GIVEN AWAY The original
language to sell the facility was voted out of her committee in which she is a ranking member. I also take others to task, including Republican Chairman
Bonilla and his Republican colleague, Congressman Kolbe, for supporting the amendment.

Now this amendment did not come out of the blue. It was originally
submitted as a bill (H.R.400) way back in January, 2005 by Democratic Arizona Congressman Pastor.

The original bill had every opportunity to be discussed and debated in the subcommittee in which DeLauro is a ranking member.

Instead, she offers it up as an amendment on the House floor. It is passed without debate and with a
simple voice vote.

Now some, like TrueBlueCT, would want to give Ms. DeLauro the benefit of the doubt when she says she was doing a fellow Congressman from halfway across the country a favor by offering up the amendment on his behalf. That's a fair
point.

But why would TrueBlueCT seek to deny the rest of Ms. DeLaruo's
constituents the right to explore the doubt? Particularly when the
amendment results in a free giveaway of federal land and facilities to two lobbyists. And when every Congressman in the Arizona delegation (both Democrats
and Republicans) co-sponsored H.R.400, the original bill to give the land away.

Were there none of the co-sponsors of H.R.400 available to offer the
amendment? (In fact there were...see below.) Should not Congresswoman DeLauro's judgment be called into question, at a minimum, for directly facilitating the federal land and facility giveaway?

Put yourself for a moment on the House floor when Ms. DeLauro offers the amendment to giveaway the land. As per the Congressional Record which I
site in my post, Congressman Kolbe of Arizona, one of the original co-sponsors of H.R.400, rises in support of the amendment...which he himself could have offered.

Then the Republican Chairman, Congressman Bonilla, rises in support of the amendment.

Members in the house at that time must have said to themselves, "Lets
see...the Democratic ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee is offering the amendment, a Republican Arizona Congressman is rising in support of the amendment, and the Republican Chairman, Bonilla, of the subcommittee is rising is support of the amendment. This looks like 'goodness' all around. They must have checked this out already...Looks bipartisan to me...I'll just support it with a voice vote.

4. My investigation then goes into tracking the campaign contributions from the lobbyists to both Republicans and Democrats in the Arizona delegation and
eventually my post was picked up on by a reporter in Arizona that also found the federal land giveaway 'interesting' at best.

Now, 'Reason' has a lot to deal with here so I'll let him mull over the information for a bit.