Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pure politics. Special interests rule.

I am weeks behind on Ohio pit bull attacks and will get to those shortly.  This post is about politics, pure and simple... follow the money.  The link at the bottom of this post is to an opinion piece by Cleveland Plain Dealer writer, Thomas Suddes.  Suddes has written about special interests in the past and this morning's column made me think.  He has nothing to do with pit bulls, or dogs in general, but he is right on target on the State Legislature.  I quote Mr. Suddes "Each state representative is supposed to represent 117,000 of his or her neighbors and each state senator 350,000 of his or hers.  They're not supposed to represent the lobbyist locusts that swarm the Statehouse."  "It's a good bet that your legislator's campaign is funded by "the interests" (including caucus leaders and unions) in Columbus, not the pie suppers held at the township firehouse."

Legislators follow the money.  Special interests rule in many places, but Ohio has been absolutely sold to them.  This is how HB 14 became Ohio law.  The big guns were all here and pushing hard for deregulation of dangerous dogs, public safety be damned, Best Friends Animal Society, the ASPCA, the AVMA, the Animal Farm Foundation is everywhere that Best Friends goes.

The big bucks come from special interest donors and they send their lobbyists to press the flesh, make their desires known in the State House, and from party PACs.  These PACs do not reveal the names of donors (special interests and the lobbyists who represent them), they are not required to do so.   Ohio has a website where interested parties can see who gives Senators and Representatives cash, interesting reading. 

Here is a "for example" to illustrate the point.  In a recent election I refused to support a candidate who repeatedly voted to drop Ohio regulations on vicious dogs. I contacted his first-time-candidate opponent to offer my support and to actually work in his campaign. This looked like a golden candidate, military man who graduated from one of our military academies, honorable service record, he looked like someone with ethics. There were several chatty e-mails exchanged.  The campaign manager was delighted with my offer to work in the campaign.  "Wonderful!  We want you to come to a meeting where you can meet the candidate, We want your full support and we can absolutely use your help." As a final question I was asked why I supported this candidate over the incumbent.  I told this person  about my attack and experiences with breed specific advocates.  The conversation was over... I never heard another single word from the campaign or the candidate.

This candidate was elected, and was not in Columbus long enough to put his pens in his new desk before he signed on as a sponsor for HB 14. Checking his contributions, he was given over $500,000 for his campaign, from the Republican party PAC.  It just so happens that Barbara Sears, the Representative who introduced HB 14 (and earlier versions) is Assistant Majority Leader in the Ohio House of Representatives, high ranking legislators control the money. This brand new Representative sold his vote to the party for the money to run his campaign. 

Wonder how he feels about his vote now?  In the first four and a half months of deregulation in Ohio, pit bulls killed two Ohio residents, one of them a three day old baby girl.  She was killed by her grandmother's pit bull. 

How does Barbara Sears live with her part in this sad mess?  She was not only the proponent for this ill conceived bill, she actually allowed a special interest PAC to write it.  Ohio has term limits and Sears will no longer be in the Ohio House when the full impact of HB 14 is felt, but her name is found in the first paragraph of every news article on the bill.  HB 14 will be Sears legacy.