Month 10, Day 18: Idiots In High Places Rewarding One Another

The League Of Conservation Voters endorses a Republican, Dave Reichert (WA-08).

The LCV Press Release includes these words:

“We are proud to endorse Congressman Reichert for re-election because he supports policies that will not only build a clean energy economy that gets Washington’s workers back on the job, but will also reduce our dependence on foreign oil and curb harmful pollution,” said LCV Action Fund President Gene Karpinski.

You may recall that the League of Conservation Voters also endorsed Joe Lieberman in the 2006 election. Granted, Lieberman has been better on climate than he was on healthcare…but fact remains that he helped legitimate huge chunks of the Cheney administration’s acts of destruction — which surely should count against him on the environmental-good-guy-o-meter.

I go into this every time one of the LCV people call me. They sigh; it is my hope that I’m not the only one telling them this.

After I heard about the Reichert announcement, I was moved to send the following to Gene Karpinski, le grande fromage du LCV.

Gene Karpinski
League of Conservation Voters
1920 L Street, NW Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Mr. Karpinski — I’ve been wanting to get this letter off my chest for a long time — since 2006, to be exact.  I’ve repeated its words fairly often; I do so every time I speak to a fundraiser from the League of Conservation Voters (at least once every three months).

I want to explain to you, just as I explain to them, why I have chosen not to give any money to the LCV.    I was bitterly disappointed when your organization chose to endorse Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Connecticut Senate race.  I now see you’ve done something similar in your endorsement of Washington congressman Dave Reichert.

That is to say, you’ve shot yourselves in the foot.  I imagine that there are more such instances, but I don’t want to look for them; I feel soiled enough already.

There are profound flaws in your procedure for candidate endorsements, which is based on tallying the number of “pro-environment” and “anti-environment” votes by a particular legislator.  But how on earth could you miss the fact that by 2006, Joe Lieberman’s  panderings to the Bush Administration had allowed them to claim the blessings of bipartisanship upon their wars, their financial chicanery, their ineptitude, their environmental irresponsibility (nay, criminality)?  And how on earth could you miss the fact that Dave Reichert, at a May gathering of Republican strategists, bragged that his “pro-environment” votes were just cynical gamesmanship?

To be fair, Mr. Reichert could actually be a secret environmentalist double-agent lying to his own party’s strategists.  But I think it’s more likely that (as he admitted to the “Mainstream Republicans” group in 2006, speaking of his “pro-environment” votes), “…when the leadership comes to me and says, ‘Dave we need you to take a vote over here, because we want to protect you and keep this majority,’ I do it.”

By short-sightedly structuring your endorsement policy around the sole criterion of counted votes, you enable cynical politicians to manipulate the system.  The mechanism is obvious; waiting until the majority of votes have been counted on a bill often allows an unscrupulous legislator to cast a politically expedient vote (one that, perhaps, makes him likelier to get endorsed by a leading environmental group) which appears to run counter to his party’s platform.  Thus Dave Reichert gets your endorsement, despite the fact that his 90/10 Republican voting record has been part and parcel of the “Party of No” strategy (a strategy that has now fostered a whole Republican subculture of anti-science denialists who threaten to derail progress on climate completely).  And thus Joe Lieberman got your approval.

And that’s what I tell your fund-raisers, and it’s what I’m telling you.

I’ll give you a pass on Lieberman and start donating again — if you repudiate Dave Reichert, and make a significant change in the LCV’s endorsement process.

I’d love to give you some money.  I don’t have much, but you’re welcome to some of it.  But I’m damned I’ll give a dime to an organization that — when it comes to the environment — can’t tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

If anyone wants to contact the League of Conservation Voters to tell them something similar, here’s their contact info.