Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), the Senate's only veterinarian, is appalled by cockfighting. He wants to stop the shipment of the fighting roosters from the 47 states where the fights are illegal to the three states that permit the bloody sport.
"Most folk out there want it stopped," Allard said. "They realize it's inhumane and it's not a good, wholesome sport."
Former senator Steven D. Symms (R-Idaho) sees it quite differently. Symms, president of Symms, Lehn & Associates Inc., and associate John Haddow, a former aide to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), are representing the pro-cockfighting Oklahoma Animal Coalition, a group that is working "to insure the future of individual sports and commerce." Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico allow cockfighting.
Symms said that raising the fighting birds--called "cockers"--is a big, legitimate business, especially in states such as Oklahoma. Besides, the birds are in big demand overseas in countries where the sport flourishes, he said.
"These farmers are exporting $600 [million] to $800 million worth of chickens a year. If this bill were to pass, this law would put these farmers out of business," said Symms.
Symms is optimistic about his chances for killing Allard's measure. "I would think a Republican-led Congress would be hesitant to outlaw a legitimate business in the United States," he said.
The senator-turned lobbyist says he has never attended a cockfight and can understand how some people are opposed to the sport. "I understand how the people feel," Symms said, "but the same people eat chicken."
The Allard bill has the endorsement of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States.
Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society's lobbyist, was appalled at Symms's role. "Now that he represents cockfighters, he can really carve out a distinctive niche on K Street," Pacelle said.
'Subversive' Audiologists on 'Deviant' Course
If you haven't heard about the latest medical fight on Capitol Hill, then you may need to have your hearing checked.
And that would be pretty easy in this scrap because it's between audiologists, the folks who test your hearing, and the ear, nose and throat doctors.
The American Academy of Audiologists wants Medicaid to use the same definition for audiologists that Medicare has used since 1994. That definition actually leaves it up to the states to define who is an audiologist. It's a rule that the academy and its Washington lobbyist, Marshall L. Matz, of Olsson, Frank and Weeda, believed to be noncontroversial.
The ear, nose and throat doctors, however, are concerned that the legislation would allow the audiologists to expand into the practice of medicine. When Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA and executive vice president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Inc., got wind of the audiologists' bill, he dispatched letters to the House Commerce Committee attacking the proposal as "a subversive attempt to alter a statute through a deviant course of action."
The bill was the product of "a disruptive faction of the audiology community to inappropriately expand their scope of practice," Maves claimed. The medical lobbyist, however, made the mistake of sending his protest letter to Rep. Edward Whitfield (R-Ky.) who had introduced the "subversive" measure with Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
The two lawmakers immediately wrote Maves demanding an explanation. Maves hasn't replied, but Sharon Fujikawa, president of the "7,000 'disruptive' audiologists," has seized on Maves's letter to assure lawmakers that her group does not want to "in any way infringe upon the unique qualifications of a medical doctor."
The Revolving Door
Michele Amberson, press officer for Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol M. Browner, has joined the Aker Partners as a senior associate.
Louis Lehrman, who had joined his old Capitol Hill boss, former representative J. Alex McMillan (R-N.C.) as a partner in the McMillan Group, has moved over to the Dutko Group, as a vice president.
Mark D. Weinberg, an aide to former president Ronald Reagan, has been named director of issues management for the McGraw-Hill Companies. He previously was a marketing and special events manager at the U.S. Postal Service.
Hail Taxi Well Bent
There is a limousine war going on in New York.
Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.) says New York City is demanding that out-of-state hackers jump through "some unfair hoops" in order to drive around Gotham and that's an illegal restriction of interstate commerce. So, intervening on the side of New Jersey limos, Andrews is pushing a bill that would ban states from imposing restrictions on the interstate travel of limos.
The International Taxicab and Livery Association of Kensington, calling the measure "vague" and troublesome, has hired Edward Gill Jr., a former Transportation Department lawyer now at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, to try to kill the legislation.
Although Gill believes the measure may be "in limbo," Andrews says it remains very much alive: "We are attempting, pardon the pun, to find some moving vehicle to attach this measure to."
McAllister's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org