What a Sport
January/February 2002 IBEW Journal
Congressional Caucus Shows that Second Amendment and Labor Rights Can Co-exist Nicely.
Back in the quieter North America before accelerated population growth and so many national chains and franchises, a hometown shop would display a sign that said simply Gone Fishin. And some towns became a ghost area when a popular hunting season opened.
Then and now, a lot of IBEW members also go out huntin and fishin.
But the locations and opportunities are no longer as abundant as in those earlier days. Consequently some IBEW members are supporting a national organization dedicated to preserving and expanding fishing and hunting opportunities, the Congressional Sportsmens Foundation.
Support of the foundation also gives IBEW activists proximity to federal legislators and a chance to advance the IBEWs broader range of legislative concerns, especially on job-related and other economic issues, said Rick Diegel, director of the IBEW Political/Legislative Affairs Department.
The International Office is a contributing sponsor of the foundation, which defines its mission as exposing members of Congress and congressional staff to archery, hunting and fishing. IBEW-PAC supports the foundation at both the International and local level.
With the addition of 17 new members arriving for the 107th Congress, the foundation has a Senate caucus of 48 and House caucus of 258. The foundation board includes a wide variety of civic and business leaders, many with ties to manufacturers and suppliers of products for outdoor activities.
The foundation sponsors three mass outings a year, one each for hunting, archery and fishing. The April outing on fly-fishing on the Potomac River included three professional instructors on that delicate art and the archery trip in June included members of the U.S. Olympic Team as instructors.
In addition to its larger events for all members, the foundation also sponsors and helps coordinate a variety of local and regional outings, which are scheduled as legislators schedules permit.
One avid IBEW hunter who took part in such a regional hunt is Tony Merritt, business manager of Local 301, Texarkana, Texas, which has members in both Arkansas and Texas. Consequently, his quest for quail and pheasant this fall included members of Congress from both Texas, Rep. Max Sandlin (D), and from Arkansas, Rep. Mike Ross (D). Also along was Texas State Sen. Barry Telford (D).
It was a great outing and I would do it anytime I can, said Merritt of the hunt in Nevada County, Arkansas. He noted that the national co-chair of the foundation, Rep. Mike Thompson (D), also came in from his home state of California to join the group. Both the hunt and the skeet shoot afterwards showed that foundation events are well planned and well run.
They did bag their limit, Merritt said, and some participants who are not quite as experienced and skilled as others were adept enough at yelling I got it to keep the group in good balance and good humor.
Merritt has seen his share of election ads trying to use gun issues against labor-endorsed candidates. If 40 percent of our members voted against Al Gore, it was because of a flood of mailings and TV ads saying Al Gore will take away your guns, Merritt said.
I know better and a lot of other people know better, Merritt said, but we cant compete with TV. Consequently, he welcomes the Congressional Sportsmens Foundation events as a way to set the record straight.
The foundation divides its participants between its council, for groups like the IBEW, and membership, which is available in steps from patron ($1,000 a year) and sponsor ($500) to sustaining member ($100) and member ($50 a year). The foundation is headquartered on Capitol Hill at 110 North Carolina Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003, phone 202-543-6850. Its Web site is www.sportsmenslink.org and E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year the 12th annual fundraising event for the Congressional Sportsmens Foundation in Washington, D.C., was dedicated to continuing the tradition of conservation with a tribute to American farmers. Like multiple U.S. events in the fall of 2001, the fundraiser was postponed from Sept. 12.
Major items among the foundations lobbying efforts include passage of the Conservation and Restoration Act (CARA), which would use revenues from federal mineral royalties to fund valuable conservation programs, including state fish and wildlife agencies, and the Pacific Salmon Recovery Act, which did pass. The foundation also opposed an amendment to a House appropriations bill requiring federal agencies to prohibit the feeding of bears on federal public lands, including hunting over bait.
IBEW-Supported Members of Congressional Sportsmens Group
So-and-so will take away your guns is said in many elections for many different officeswith a lot of money spent to spread that message. Quite often its a lie. But no lies can be told about these candidates because, like the IBEW, they are members of the Congressional Sportsmens Foundation.
All members of the Senate and House on this list have received IBEW support. Republicans are identified with an (R); and Independents with an (I).
Alabama: Reps. Robert E. Bud Cramer and Earl Hilliard
Alaska: Sens. Frank Murkowski (R) and Ted Stevens (R) and Rep. Don Young (R)
Arizona: Rep. Ed Pastor
Arkansas: Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Reps. Marion Berry, Mike Ross and Vic Snyder
California: Reps. Joe Baca, Mike Honda, Richard Pombo (R), Loretta Sanchez and Mike Thompson
Colorado: Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) and Rep. Mark Udall
Connecticut: Rep. John Larson
Florida: Reps. Allen Boyd, Alcee Hastings, Karen Thurman and Dave Weldon (R)
Georgia: Sen. Zell Miller, Reps. Sanford Bishop and Johnny Isakson (R)
Illinois: Reps. Jerry Costello, Jessie Jackson Jr., Ray LaHood (R), David Phelps, John Shimkus (R) and Jerry Weller (R)
Indiana: Rep. Baron Hill
Iowa: Rep. Leonard Boswell
Kansas: Rep. Dennis Moore
Kentucky: Rep. Ken Lucas
Louisiana: Sen. John Breaux, Rep. William Jefferson
Maine: Rep. John Baldacci
Michigan: Rep. James Barcia, John Dingell, Dale Kildee and Bart Stupak
Minnesota: Sens. Paul Wellstone and Mark Dayton, Reps. William Luther, James L. Oberstar and Collin Peterson
Mississippi: Reps. Ronnie Shows and Bennie Thompson
Missouri: Rep. Ike Skelton
Montana: Sen. Max Baucus
Nebraska: Sen. Ben Nelson
New Jersey: Reps. Rob Andrews, Frank LoBiondo (R), Jim Saxton (R), and Chris Smith (R)
New Mexico: Rep. Tom Udall
New York: Reps. Sherwood Boehlert (R), Amory Houghton (R), Peter King (R), John LaFalce, John McHugh (R), Mike McNulty, Jack Quinn (R), John Sweeney (R) and James Walsh (R)
North Carolina: Reps. Bob Etheridge and Mike McIntyre
North Dakota: Sen. Kent Conrad, Rep. Earl Pomeroy
Ohio: Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Steve LaTourette (R), Robert Ney (R), Ted Strickland and Jim Traficant
Oklahoma: Rep. Brad Carson
Oregon: Reps. Peter DeFazio,