Thursday, September 13, 2007

Garrett Protested, Chairmen Miss the Point

As promised, the Humane Society showed up at the office of Representative Scott Garrett yesterday to protest Garrett being one of 39 representatives to vote against the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act. I've talked about the bill before, but the Star Ledger does a good job of describing what Garrett voted against:
The law upgrades the penalties for illegal transportation of animals for fighting -- one of the crimes to which football player Michael Vick has pleaded guilty -- from a misdemeanor to a felony, with jail time increasing from one to three years.

Garrett has repeatedly given the explanation that he doesn't think the crimes should be upgraded, because dog fighting is a felony in all fifty states. However, no one has been able to get him to explain his opposition to Congress regulating the interstate aspect of the operations, like Vick's, which is clearly Federal jurisdiction.

One still has to wonder why Garrett co-sponsored the bill 25 days after it was introduced if this was how he felt, but that's a question only he can answer.

In an attempt to help their embattled Representative the chairmen of the Republican organizations in both Sussex and Bergen counties chimed in.

From the New Jersey Herald:
"It's always easy in politics to go along with the majority," Sussex County Republican Chairman Rich Zeoli said. "It's difficult and takes a lot of courage to be the lone dissenting vote on something."

Somehow, I don't think Garrett will get the Profile in Courage award for this one. That's reserved for people like Representative John Lewis, who nearly died trying to gain the voting rights Garrett voted against renewing, or President Gerald Ford whose pardon of Richard Nixon lost him the 1976 election, yet helped move the country beyond Watergate.

Then from The Star Ledger:
Bergen County GOP Chairman Rob Ortiz chalked up the Humane Society's criticism of Garrett to politics.

"I believe that virtually everyone agrees that any act of hurting an innocent animal is inexcusable and intolerable," Ortiz wrote in an e- mail. "The fact remains that the Humane Society has made hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions last cycle, nearly 70 percent of them to Democrats. They wouldn't picket Scott Garrett's office for this vote if he weren't a Republican. Partisan politics will not solve the problem they claim to care about."

Considering 95% of the Republicans in Congress voted for this, and the Humane Society endorsed every Republican running in NJ last year except Garrett, calling them partisans or trying to make this a partisan issue doesn't quite work. The Humane Society also made sure to include Democratic Representatives Ruben Hinojosa of Texas and Dan Boren of Oklahoma in the press releases criticising the 39 Representatives who voted against this bill.

Garrett was neither brave nor a good Republican on this one; it's simply an indefensible vote.

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