WRITTEN BY ROY EXUM
Marsha Blackburn, a Republican member of Congress from Tennessee, became the subject of scathing fury over the weekend after a Huffington Post political columnist vilified the 61-year-old woman in a story entitled, “Why This Congresswoman Opposes Effort To End Horrifying Horse Abuse.”
The short answer is that Rep. Blackburn has become deeply entwined with the scurrilous “Big Lick” segment of the horse industry and is believed by some to be using her power on Capitol Hill to benefit those who continue to cruelly abuse and sore horses.
“It is a shame that those horses can’t contribute part of their purses to bribing Blackburn. The bill would have a better chance,” commented a HuffPo reader.
The story, written by national columnist Christina Wilkie, told specifically how the Congresswoman was given a $100-per-person reception by the questionable Performance Horse Show Association in August 2013 and received a $70,000 donation during its National Celebration in Shelbyville three months ago.
Since then she has railed against House Bill 1518 and has urged her fellow lawmakers to defeat it.
The HuffPost story also revealed the Performance Horse Show Association president at the time – Terry Dotson – had two horses disqualified at the Celebration after each failed inspections and while he resigned just two days later, “Cruella de Blackburn” –- as she was called on Sunday by one of well over 2,500 detractors on the website — came out this week in public defiance of the sweeping reform in the embattled Walking Horse industry.
Ironically, Blackburn is the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in Washington and this week, when the same committee held hearings on the proposed Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, Blackburn strutted her disdain for all to see and has worked all fall to quell HB 1518, which was sponsored this spring by state Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis).
Blackburn’s stance is that “this legislation brings excessive regulatory burdens on the walking horse industry and potentially eliminates the entire industry and thus the breed,” but horsemen and women all over the world know better. Horse shows elsewhere thrive and there is no soring. But in Tennessee there is word that more criminal charges may be forthcoming and the PAST Act would make soring a federal felony instead of a misdemeanor.
As of yesterday, a whopping 233 members of Congress have signed to co-sponsor the popular bill, 160 Democrats and 73 Republicans, but – curiously — the entire Republican delegation from Tennessee, seven in Congress as well as Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker, are believed to be against the animal protection measures due to their ties with the “Big Lick” organization. (Alexander’s state finance chairman is, in fact, Steven B. Smith, a director of the Walking Horse Breed Registry.)
It is believed all of Tennessee’s representatives will seek reelection in 2014.
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Note: There is a photo at Exum’s article (link above) captioned “snapped seconds before this horse’s hoof literally came off.”