One has to wonder how Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri benefited by sliding in that nasty little rider that puts Monsanto above the law? Not unlike Judas Iscariot, Blunt used his position to betray those who trusted him, but it appears that the senator got more than 30 pieces of silver.
As an elected official, Senator Blunt is obligated to promote the wishes of the people. All of them, not just the ones with money.
Let’s go down the rabbit hole and explore why Blunt might have done such a thing.
Monsanto has its home base in St. Louis, Missouri, and here we can begin to see the connection between Blunt and the evil company. Just a cursory search shows financial ties of nearly $300,000. To name just a few direct links between Monsanto and Blunt, the following donation amounts are from the website Open Secrets, (with the caveat “The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations’ PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.”):
- Blunt’s most recent congressional campaign received $64,250 in donations from Monsanto.
- Blunt’s campaign received $110,950 from the Crawford Group, a law firm that deals with issues involving Roundup Ready sugar beets and alfalfa.
- Blunt’s campaign received $75,150 from Emerson Electric Company, which acquired Fisher Controls from Monsanto in 1992.
- Blunt’s campaign received $42,758 from Bryan Cave LLC, a law firm which represented Monsanto in its $290 million purchase of Aly Participacoes. Reuben Shelton, senior counsel at Monsanto, serves as president of the Board of Directors of Legal Services for the company, and his daughter, Christian Shelton, is an attorney at the firm.
- The #1 PAC donation in the most recent election was from “agribusiness” – $51,250
Hang on – there are a couple MORE links between Blunt and Monsanto, (not to mention other special interest groups like Phillip Morris, Altria, and Kraft). In fact, Blunt has a long, sordid history of slipping bills in that help out the big spenders, a lover, and his sons…
- Blunt’s wife, Abigail Perlman, is the in-house lobbyist for Kraft Foods, who donated heavily to battle against mandatory labeling of GMOs. Before this, when the good Baptist Blunt divorced his wife of 30+ years to marry Perlman, she lobbied for Altria/Phillip Morris, where Blunt’s son Andy was also a lobbyist. An article on The Daily Kos pointed out that, “at the time Roy Blunt, the bastion of Missouri values, was helping his lobbyist girlfriend, he was still married to another woman.”
- Blunt’s son, Matt, was the governor of Missouri from 2005-2009. According to an article on The Nation, ” Matt Blunt was such a champion of Monsanto’s GM products that its CEO presented him with the annual leadership award of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a Monsanto-backed group.”
This Monsanto rider isn’t the first time Blunt has tried to help out a big donor. In 2003, literally hours after he was named whip for the House Republicans, he attempted a less successful stealth legislation attached to the 475 page bill that created the DHS for his buddies at Phillip Morris.
The new majority whip, who has close personal and political ties to the company, instructed congressional aides to add the tobacco provision to the bill — then within hours of a final House vote — even though no one else in leadership supported it or knew he was trying to squeeze it in.
Once alerted to the provision, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s chief of staff, Scott Palmer, quickly had it pulled out, said a senior GOP leader who requested anonymity. Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) also opposed what Blunt (Mo.) was trying to do, the member said, and “worked against it” when he learned of it.
The provision would have made it harder to sell tobacco products over the Internet and would have cracked down on the sale of contraband cigarettes, two practices that cut into Philip Morris’s profits. Blunt has received large campaign donations from Philip Morris, his son works for the company in Missouri and the House member has a close personal relationship with a Washington lobbyist for the firm. (source)
It is highly unusual for a House Republican to insert a last-minute contentious provision that has never gone through a committee, never faced a House vote and never been approved by the speaker or majority leader. Blunt’s attempt became known only to a small circle of House and White House officials. They kept it quiet, preferring no publicity on a matter involving favors for the nation’s biggest tobacco company and possible claims of conflicts of interest.
Given the above, it probably comes as no surprise that the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) bestowed upon Blunt a spot in the second annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress back in 2006 and then again in 2010. You can read the 2010 report on Blunt’s special interest pandering HERE.
So, Blunt was the architect of all of this sneaky little rider, slipped into HR 933. This doesn’t mean that the other members of Congress who voted for it are not complicit, however. The fact that President Obama does not have line-item veto authority doesn’t let him off the hook either. By refusing to send the entire bill back to be redrafted, every person who voted for this is guilty, as is President Obama.
In case you’re curious how your Senators and Representatives voted, you don’t even have to click a link – here are the results of the roll call.
For the Senate:
And here are those who voted “yes” in the House of Representatives.
Johnson, E. B.
Lujan Grisham (NM)
So there you have it….a list of those responsible for making Monsanto untouchable. I don’t want to hear the “they had no choice” baloney. The option to refuse is always there and anyone with ethics would have done just that.
I encourage you to reach out to your senators and representatives and let them know how you feel about their betrayals. And don’t forget the White House. Contact information can be found below. (Please be courteous and don’t make crazy threats, because that just reflects badly on the rest of us.)
Refuse to be silenced.
Senator Roy Blunt (email address)
Contacting the Congress (email addresses)
Senator Blunt’s Washington DC office (202) 224-5721
Congressional switchboard (202) 224-3121.
President Barack Obama’s line (202) 456-1111