Sunday, January 22, 2006 reminds us that Representative Shadegg cosponsored federal land transfer to lobbyists

Michael Meckler recently analyzed the race for House Majority Leader and reminds us that Congressman John Shadegg, along with the rest of the Arizona congressional delegation, cosponsored the orginal bill (H.R. 400) that sought to convey the Western Cotton Research Laboratory to the two lobbyists:
...Eliminating most earmarks is the central idea behind Ohio GOP congressman John Boehner's campaign to become the next House majority leader. Boehner abhors earmarks, and he refuses to use the practice to fund projects in his own district. Earlier this week he wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal under the headline, "Keep Politics Kosher: No Pork". Boehner's essay was a long plea to reform the use of earmarks in appropriations bills.

Boehner's crusade against earmarks is not entirely welcome by all of his supposedly conservative GOP colleagues. Both of his rivals for the post of House majority leader --
Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Shadegg of Arizona -- use and defend earmarks as legitimate methods of promoting the interests and economy of their districts. Shadegg is himself enmeshed in the controversy over the transfer of valuable Phoenix real estate from the federal government to the Arizona Cotton Growers Association, which has made financial contributions to Shadegg's campaigns. Blogger Mario Delgado has detailed the circumstances surrounding this land transfer in numerous entries on his Porkopolis website...
Here is a direct quote from Shadegg who voted for H.R. 2744, the bill with the actual conveyance language from his original cosponsored bill:
...Lawmakers and the Arizona Cotton Growers Association describe the deal as repayment of a benevolent grant in 1966, when the association and a partner organization originally donated the land to the federal government.

"Essentially, they wanted the land to be used for cotton research," said Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz. "And it was for decades. But then, without consulting the cotton growers, the federal government decided to stop using it. Our understanding is if it wasn’t going to be used for that purpose anymore, the land was supposed to return to them."...
Representative Shadegg would have us believe that a transaction conducted almost three decades ago had an "understanding" that after:
we should circumvent the well established surplus federal land disposition process and award two lobbyists with land that belongs to the American people. Can you say, "Business as usual"?

Furthermore, we don't yet know if the orginal donation of the land to the federal government in 1966 resulted in tax benefits to the lobbyists. Think about it, when's the last time you've seen a 'donation' to the federal government without tax credits or deductions? If that's the case, the lobbyists get a quadruple benefit:
  1. A possible tax benefit when the land was 'donated'...
  2. Free research over three decades conducted at tax payers expense...
  3. A brand spanking new facility to continue conducting the research that benefits the lobbyists...
  4. A conveyance of federal land with all the improvements made to it since it was originally developed.
Representative Shadegg's involvement in this direct giveaway shows us that the following words of reform ring hollow:
"I am aware of the difficulty of winning this election," Shadegg said in a statement. "I face well-organized opponents with tremendous resources. However, I believe in the power of Republican ideas, and I believe that we need a clean break from the scandals of the recent past. I hope every member of the Republican Conference will join with me in the coming days to craft an agenda of reforms that will fully regain the confidence of the American people."


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