April 17, 2012

Needing Last Minute Political Support, Rep. Tim Holden Introduces Bill To Allow Pollution Into Chesapeake Bay, Collects Big Ag Cash

Needing Last Minute Political Support, Rep. Tim Holden Introduces Bill To Allow Pollution Into Chesapeake Bay, Collects Big Ag Cash
Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA) faces a primary election next week.

Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA) is locked in a tough Democratic primary fight with Matt Cartwright, a local attorney who is challenging the entrenched congressman over his votes against health reform, clean energy, and for voting to deregulate the fracking industry. Holden, a member of the pro-corporate Blue Dog caucus, appears to be raising last minute campaign funds using a new bill that will allow agricultural giants in the mid-Atlantic region to continue to dump pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. While Cartwright picks up a number of public interest endorsements, Holden appears to be parlaying his polluter bill into political support.

Rod Snyder recently hosted a fundraising event for Holden in the offices of Tri-State Strategies, a Pennsylvania lobbying and consulting firm.  Snyder is the president of the national Democratic club called Young Democrats of America, whose bylaws prohibit providing “official endorsements to any candidate in a contested primary election,” so presumably Snyder hosted the event in his personal, not his YDA, capacity.

But Snyder also happens to be a lobbyist for the National Corn Growers Association. According to the NCGA’s latest disclosure filing, which was submitted to the Senate late last year, Snyder has been working on developing a new Chesapeake Bay bill that would prevent the EPA from using the Clean Water Act to create a multi-state solution for dealing with industrial farm run-off. The issue has been quite contentious, with many big ag interests working to undercut the EPA. Snyder has not responded to our request for comment.

And in March, Holden came to the rescue of industrial farm interests with a bill he introduced along with Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Holden’s bill would prevent the EPA “from implementing the long-awaited, court-ordered Chesapeake Bay restoration plan known as the Chesapeake TMDL (total maximum daily load).” The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Doug Siglin says Holden’s bill would “undermine the pollution limits currently in place, derail clean-up efforts, and undercut the federal government’s role in making sure that all Americans have access to clean, swimmable, fishable waters.”

Holden’s bill bailing out industrial farm operations hasn’t escaped noticed from big lobbyists. Republic Report reviewed recently filed FEC disclosures and noticed an interesting pattern:

— On March 7, Holden introduced his bill to kill EPA efforts to regulate cross-state industrial farm pollution into the Chesapeake Bay.
— On March 12, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives gave Holden $1,000.
— On March 26, the National Turkey Federation PAC gave Holden $2,000 (in addition to $1,000 earlier this cycle).
— On March 26, the Cotton Growers PAC gave Holden $1,000.
— On March 26, Dean Foods Company PAC gave Holden $2,500 (in addition to $2,000 already given to Holden this cycle).
— On March 30, the National Chicken Council PAC gave Holden $2,000 (in addition to $1,000 given to Holden earlier in the cycle).
— On March 30, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association gave Holden $2,000.
— On April 11, the National Corn Growers PAC gave Holden $2,500.
— On April 13, the pork industry’s Pork PAC gave Holden $3,000.

Holden has been criticized before for taking corporate PAC contributions while voting time and again against the public interest. He helped co-sponsor the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), voted against cram-down, the virtually no-cost effort to allow judges to help negotiate better mortgage agreements for homeowners facing foreclosure, and he also voted to undercut the Clean Air Act. Now, Holden appears be trading the health and well-being of the Chesapeake Bay for an 11th term in Congress. So far, the congressman has collected over $77,000 from agricultural political action committees.

RELATED: Republic Report questions Tim Holden about his vote to deregulate fracking.

UPDATE: Sign the petition to ask Tim Holden to give the Big Ag cash back.