Horse industry ponies up for political campaigns

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Louisville Courier-Journal

WASHINGTON (May 13, 2012) — America’s horse industry has contributed more than $8.7 million to state and federal campaigns and political parties since 1989, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

Equine-related interests also have spent $2.2 million lobbying in Washington, the foundation said.

Political action committees connected to the Lexington, Ky.-based National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the American Horse Council, as well as horse breeders and owners, contributed to both parties, including the current president of the United States and his predecessor.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has collected more than $130,000 from the industry, making him the top recipient. Former President George W. Bush was second, with $129,000, and President Barack Obama is fourth at $72,000.

The analysis did not include contributions from the nation’s racetracks, including Churchill Downs, its other tracks and Lexington’s Keeneland, because Sunlight considered the tracks as parts of the gaming and casino industry. Read full report >>

:: Horse industry ponies up for political campaigns (report pdf)


Ditch Mitch Kentucky, Tuesday’s Horse, Sept. 23, 2008

Senator threatened USDA over horse inspections, Tuesday’s Horse, Sept. 9, 2008

McConnell opposed USDA inspectors of sored horses, Tuesday’s Horse, Sept. 2, 2008

Pay to play in Congress and the horse slaughter bill

Milt Toby, writing for The Horse blog, analyzes the monetary contributions that influence politicians, and why or why not certain pieces of legislation pass quickly and easily, and some, like the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, languishes year after year in Congress, often not even getting a vote.

Toby opens with:

Eight out of 10 American voters oppose slaughtering horses for human consumption according to a new poll sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), one of the country’s leading advocates for animal welfare. This overwhelming opposition to slaughter crosses gender lines, geography, political affiliation, and whether people live in the country or in the city.

With that much voter support, passing antislaughter legislation should be a slam dunk in Congress. But it isn’t, never has been.

So why does federal anti-slaughter legislation stall every year?

It’s a puzzling question, without an easy answer.

Toby concludes with this question:

Do campaign contributors exert too much influence on decisions—good or bad—made by Congress?

His analysis is interesting, but admittedly it looks at only one aspect of political cash manipulation, the transactions “above the table”.

We like this comment from Monica:

Clearly our system isn’t working when the pay to play can so effectively skew legislative action on an issue with such overwhelming consensus in this country. We need to find ways to expose this legal form of bribery and ensure legislators are actually representing the will of the people, not the well-funded special interest lobbies.

and this from MonicaW:

In addition to this generally accepted practice, the ugliness extends beyond the legislative chambers to committees and to individual actions of committee members. This past November, three individual members of a joint committee acted unilaterally, fully silencing the voices of their peers on the Appropriations Committee, and ultimately, the voices of hundreds of their peers on Capitol Hill. Well, after all, that’s the only way that horse slaughter could ever continue in America.

Shame on Senators Kohl and Blunt, and Rep Kingston. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t honest, and it’s not defensible.

Worth a read. Full article here >>