Few developments are surprising these days in the through-the-looking glass world of the North Carolina General Assembly, but the recent developments surrounding “puppy mills” legislation takes a very large cake.
As was reported last week in multiple places, one of the North Carolina Senate’s most powerful members, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, issued a statement in which he said that the Senate would not move legislation on this subject in 2014 because of its objection to the “tactics” of bill supporters — specifically the fact that a supporter meeting with Senator Bill Rabon openly recorded the Senator’s inflammatory comments on the subject and then made them public.
This was apparently not an idle threat by Apodaca. Yesterday, N.C. Policy Watch obtained an email sent by another lawmaker (Senator Bill Cook of Beaufort County) to a concerned constituent in which he recited Apodaca’s threat verbatim (see the bottom of this post for the full text).
Setting aside the utter absurdity of Apodaca’s and Cook’ s position on the matter of constituents recording the words of their elected officials (Hello?! Public officials doing public business don’t get to do their work in secret and North Carolina law explicitly allows such recordings!), just consider for a moment what these men are saying: “Innocent animals will continue to suffer and die unnecessarily in North Carolina because we don’t like the fact that some of the people behind a proposal to stop it embarrassed us.”
The poor dears!
At first blush, it’s hard to imagine that elected officials would be willing to publicly admit such arrogance and spitefulness. But, of course, after a moment’s reflection, one recalls that this is really nothing new. State leaders have already refused billions of dollars in Medicaid money over the past year that would literally save the lives of hundreds of human beings because they so hate President Obama and his policies.
In short, it’s just another average day in the North Carolina General Assembly.
Here’s Cook’s letter:
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about puppy mills. I’m a dog lover and in fact I own a Golden Retriever named Beau. I am opposed to puppy mills and will vote against them. However, following extreme, divisive and unethical tactics from individuals lobbying for a puppy mill bill, Senate leaders announced last Monday that the issue will not receive further consideration in their chamber for the 2014 short session.
Senate leaders recently became aware that a group of individuals secretly recorded a private conversation with a senator about the prospects for a puppy mill bill. The individuals then used the recording in an attempt to politically extort lawmakers into doing exactly what they demanded.
Below is a statement by Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson):
‘Over the last few weeks, Sens. Bill Rabon and Trudy Wade, two dedicated veterinarians, have worked in good faith with the governor’s office on legislation to protect the welfare of dogs and make sure they are treated humanely. While we certainly respect that people are passionate about the causes they support, we regret that the unethical and unacceptable tactics of an overzealous few have erased the progress made by Sens. Rabon and Wade. It is wrong to secretly record private conversations with members of the General Assembly and then threaten to expose those conversations to the media to force legislators to meet specific demands. That is nothing short of political extortion and represents a new low in lobbying for legislative action. To dignify those actions by moving ahead on this issue would set a dangerous precedent while condoning and encouraging these unethical tactics. It would create a chilling effect on the ability of legislators to have candid and honest dialogues with their constituents on the merits of potential legislation.’
Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.
Senator Bill Cook”