New Congressional leaders have pro-animal history
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2006:
WASHINGTON, DC.–Seldom if ever has a newly elected Congress
looked more friendly toward animals.
To be inaugurated on January 3, 2007, the Democratic
majorities elected in both the U.S. Senate and House of
Representatives on November 7, 2006 will take control of Congress
from the largely unfriendly Republican majority who prevailed for the
preceding 12 years, and will introduce into key positions some of
the Senators and Representatives with the voting records most
favorable to animals.
The Humane Society of the U.S. Legislative Fund publication
Humane Scorecard gave perfect 100% scores during the 109th Congress
to two of the five top-ranking members of the Democratic majority in
the 110th Senate: Charles Schumer of New York, who will be vice
chair of the Democratic caucus, and Patty Murray of Washington, who
will be conference secretary. Steering Committee chair Debbie
Stabenow of Michigan scored 80.
Humane Scorecard also gave perfect scores to six of the 19
committee chairs named to serve in the 110th House of
Representatives. Among the six were Budget chair John Spratt of
South Carolina; Education & Workforce chair George Miller of
California; Govern-ment Reform chair Henry Waxman of California;
International Relations chair Tom Lantos of California; Judiciary
chair James Conyers of Michigan; and Rules chair Louise Slaughter of
Miller, Waxman, and Lantos (who founded the Congressional Friends
of Animals caucus in 1990, of which Miller and Waxman are longtime
members) have been close political allies throughout the
Congressional tenure of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow
Californian. Humane Scorecard gave Pelosi only 56 in the 109th
Congress, but she scored 100, 100, and 85 in the 106th, 107th,
and 108th Congresses.
The average Humane Scorecard rating for a House committee
chair will rise from 33 in the 109th Congress to 69 in the 110th.
Congressional candidates endorsed by the National Rifle
Association took an especially lopsided beating, the pro-gun control
Brady Campaign reported.
“In the House, 109 NRA-backed candidates, either endorsed
or ‘A’ rated, lost their races,” a Brady press release summarized.
Eighteen NRA-backed candidates lost in U.S. Senate.races.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle won re-election “even though the
NRA spent nearly $300,000 and held their annual meeting in Milwaukee
this year,” Brady continued. Doyle twice vetoed NRA-backed
legislation that “would allow virtually anyone to carry loaded,
hidden handguns in public,” according to Brady. Doyle also annoyed
some hunters and birders in April 2005, after stating that he would
veto any attempt by the state legislature to implement a proposal
ratified by the statewide Wisconsin Conservation Congress caucuses to
allow hunters to shoot feral cats.
“I don’t think Wisconsin should become known as a state where
we shoot cats,” Doyle explained.
HSUS “counts 10 million Americans as members, an average of
23,000 in each of the 435 House districts. That’s more than twice
the membership of the National Rifle Association,” observed Wall
Street Journal correspondent Brody Mullins.
Several HSUS-endorsed Congress-ional candidates lost,
notably Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who had introduced
unsuccessful legislation in the 109th Congress to extend USDA
oversight of dog breeders; Senator George Allen of Virginia, who
introduced legislation to require that bittering agents be added to
antifreeze to keep pets from ingesting it; and Representative John
Sweeney of New York, who supported legislation to ban horse
Santorum, Allen, and Sweeney, all Republicans, were each
closely aligned with President George W. Bush on the war in Iraq.
HSUS was more successful in targeting authors of anti-animal
legislation for defeat, including Senator Conrad Burns of Montana,
whose November 2004 stealth rider to a budget bill in effect repealed
the 1971 Wild and Free Ranging Horse and Burro Protection Act.
“The political upheaval that made my day,” Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society founder Paul Watson e-mailed, “is the defeat of
Republican Richard Pombo of California,” who had chaired the House
Resources Committee, and became “the first committee chairman in the
last five election cycles to lose a re-election bid,” Watson
Pombo was toppled by wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney,
who never before held public office.
Watson described Pombo as “a man who hated all things good
for the environment, an animal hater and killer, a tree-destroyer,
a war-monger and a dogfighter. A man who took it on himself to
travel to Iceland to encourage the killing of whales, a man who
wanted to fill Yellowstone with snowmobiles and sell off 15 other
national parks to developers, a man who was working to dismantle the
Endangered Species Act and promoting offshore oil rights and drilling
in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.
“When I was a Sierra Club director last year,” Watson
continued, “other directors and I urged the club to put as much
pressure on Pombo as possible and to support any candidate opposing
The Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife contributed heavily
to ousting Pombo.
“The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund targeted Pombo in the
fall of 2005, when every pundit and political party thought he was
unbeatable,” exulted Defenders president Rodger Schlickeisen. “We
were the first to place staff on the ground. Our staff and
volunteers spoke with more than 75,000 households in Pombo’s district
about his awful record,” while also helping to “defeat anti-wildlife
candidates in 14 House races across the country.”
HSUS president Wayne Pacelle personally knocked on doors in
Dublin, California, to help beat Pombo. Pacelle had a close call
when a pit bull terrier charged him at one house, in front of Brody
“The dog slammed into the door. A screen was all that
separated the growling beast” from Pacelle, wrote Mullins.
“I may be with the Humane Society, but I prefer little dogs
when I’m canvassing,” Pacelle said.
Explained Brody, “HSUS first tested the waters in
congressional elections in 2004 – and then, in just one race. In
that campaign, the group campaigned against Representative Chris John
in Louisiana, when the Democrat ran for an open Senate seat against
Republican Representative David Vitter. Mr. John championed the
state’s legalized cockfighting industry.
“Polls showed that nine in 10 women in Louisiana opposed
cockfighting,” so HSUS spent $400,000 on radio ads and mailings to
300,000 women voters. John lost by 1% of the vote.
In November 2006, “Women’s votes determined the outcome in
virtually all the races involving seats that turned over,” assessed
Martha Burk, director of the Corporate Accountability Project
sponsored by the National Council of Women. “Women’s concerns will
not only lead the way in the post-election debates about direction in
the new Congress,” Burk predicted, “but will decide who gets
elected in the first place.”
Female voters going to the polls primarily to oppose the war
in Iraq also crushed Michigan Proposal 3, a referendum which would
have legalized hunting mourning doves. Detroit Free Press polling
found that Proposal 3 was opposed by 56% of the male voters, and 79%
of the women, said Free Press staff writer Tina Lam.
“Until 2004, Michigan had banned hunting mourning doves for
99 years,” summarized Lam. “That year, the legislature passed a
bill allowing a dove hunting season in a limited area. The next
year, dove enthusiasts and animal protection groups collected enough
signatures to suspend dove hunting and put the measure on the
The campaign pitted HSUS, the Michigan Humane Society, and
the Michigan Audubon Society against Michigan United Conservation
Clubs, the National Rifle Association, and the U.S. Sportsmen’s
Alliance–and the hunters lost, in a state with one of the highest
rates of hunting participation in the nation.
Iowa Federation of Humane Soc-ieties vice president Jerry
Dominicak pointed out the result to Iowa legislators who have tried
several times to repeal the longtime Iowa ban on dove hunting. Iowa
Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed a repeal of the dove hunting ban that
cleared the state legislature in 2001.
“With Vilsack leaving office, and a new administration
coming in, it’s more important than ever that Iowa lawmakers know
where the people stand on hunting mourning
doves,” Dominicak said.
Arizona voters approved Proposition 204, banning sow
gestation crates and veal crates, by almost a two-to-one margin.
Proposition 204 was backed by HSUS, the Arizona Humane Society,
Animal Defense League of Arizona, and Farm Sanctuary.
“The Arizona Farm Bureau, Center for Consumer Freedom, and
other groups pumped $2.5 million into a deceptive campaign to fool
voters into thinking Proposition 204 was backed by ‘extremist’
groups,” said HSUS spokesperson Leslie Porter, “but Arizona voters
clearly rebuked” their “blatantly dishonest” approach.
However, Arizona voters also approved Proposition 207,
requiring local governments to compensate private landowners for new
regulations that restrict the use of their property. This, warned
Arizona Daily Star reporter Tony Davis, “could take a big bite out
of Pima County’s plans to protect several imperiled species,”
including the Pima pineapple cactus, needle-spined pineapple cactus,
and western burrowing owl.
“The news is not all we had hoped for,” cautioned the
Animal Protection Institute on November 8, “as voting-related
measures in Colorado and Florida did not fare so well.”
Colorado Amendment 38, defeated, “would have expanded the
ability of citizens to propose changes to state laws and local
ordinances or resolutions by extending the petition process to all
levels of Colorado’s governments that use a legislative process,
including school districts and counties.”
Florida Amendment 3 imposed a requirement that future
amendments to the state constitution must receive at least 60% of the
vote. “The practical effect will be to make it more difficult to
enshrine animal protections within the state constitution,” API
explained. “However, once the protections are included in the
constitution, Amendment 3 will make it more difficult for the
opposition to undermine or delete them.”
Hunters in particular have pushed for “supermajority”
requirements for the passage of initiative legislation, as the
numbers of licensed hunters have fallen to as little as 4% of the
U.S. population, and pro-animal initiatives have increasingly often
“Since 1990,” Porter of HSUS recounted, “voters have
enacted more than two dozen animal protection reforms through ballot
initiatives, including banning cockfighting in Arizona, Missouri,
and Oklahoma; outlawing horse slaughter and the sale of horse meat
in California; restricting cruel and inhumane traps and poisons in
Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington;
prohibiting inhumane bear hunting practices in Colorado,
Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington; banning the use of
gestation crates for breeding pigs in Florida; providing specialty
spay/neuter license plates in Georgia; banning canned hunts and
prohibiting future game farms in Montana; and outlawing aerial wolf
killing in Alaska,” twice approved by the electorate but twice
undone by the legislature.
Animal advocates enjoyed success at the state level as well
as the national level.
The New York City-based League of Humane Voters endorsed
winners not only in the federal Congressional race, but also in
three New York State Senate races, and four state Assembly races.
All eight candidates supported by the League attracted at least 60%
of the ballots.
Almost all that animal use industries had to celebrate in the
election returns was the defeat of Utah 3rd District Judge Leslie
Explained Salt Lake Tribune reporter Lisa Rosetta, “Lewis
came under fire from Gun Owners of Utah, as well as an anonymous
group that posted a Web site, after she berated the brother of a man
accused of poaching a deer. ”
Lewis recused herself from trying the case of alleged trophy
poacher Michael Jacobson on February 24, 2006, explaining that she
had recently just missed being accidentally shot in the head by a
“I cannot in all honesty tell you that I believe I could be
fair. I have a prejudice concerning deer hunting and people who kill
deer and transport deer who have been shot,” Lewis said.
“While Lewis’ clerk searched for another judge to take the
case, she began peppering Michael Jacobson with questions,” wrote
Rosetta. The questions pertained to why Michael Jacobson
recreationally kills animals.
When his brother Kent Jacobson sighed loudly and left the courtroom,
Lewis ordered a bailiff to bring him back, and asked “Why did you
feel the need to make such an explosive and clear indication of your
displeasure or boredom at being here?”
Responded Kent Jacobson, “It’s not just the displeasure of
being bored here. The problem is we have just as much rights as going
out and shooting deer as you have the right … ” Lewis then
lectured Kent Jacobson about who has the right to do what in a
courtroom. After spending 20 minutes in handcuffs, Kent Jacobson
was released without charges.
“We helped make some of Utah’s deer hunters and gun owners
aware of the fact that she was expressing extreme prejudice against a
lawful activity that many of them engage in,” Gun Owners of Utah
spokesperson N.W. Clayton said.
Michael Jacobson, however, was convicted of wanton
destruction of protected wildlife, a third-degree felony; was
sentenced to 24 months on probation, during which time he is not
allowed to hunt; and was ordered to pay $2,500 to an anti-poaching