Archive for September, 2015

Lobbyists, legislators aim to quash political activist’s free speech

Who would think that in America you can get a $1,000 fine for exercising your freedom of speech? Well, I just did.

I am a political activist. Just like thousands of other activists all over the state across the political spectrum, I go out of my way to talk to those in power about what I think our state’s laws should look like. When average citizens share their political opinions, exercise freedom of speech and petition the government regarding the laws we live under, they are doing exactly what America’s Founders had in mind when they established a self-governing constitutional republic.

They are not lobbyists and neither am I. Lobbyists are professionals paid by their clients to persuade politicians to vote in their clients’ interests. Lobbyists also use money to buy politicians’ attention, providing them with food or other gifts. I share my political ideas only because I believe in them passionately; no one has ever paid me to talk to an elected official and I don’t buy lawmakers gifts.

My activism has made some powerful enemies. Along with a host of other citizen activists, I vigorously oppose things like eminent domain abuse and giving subsidies and other government largess to corporations or other special interests. Maybe high-paid lobbyists don’t like having to explain to their clients why average citizens, using nothing more than facts, reason and speech, beat them at their own game time and again.

I have also angered powerful legislators by opposing them when they were trying to advance unconstitutional bills or ignore constitutional limits on their power.

On Election Day last November, the professional lobbyists’ guild, with the blessing of (and possibly at the prompting of) at least two influential legislators, decided to try to punish me and scare away other activists for exercising our constitutional freedoms. They filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission claiming that I should face fines (making prison a possibility), because I had not registered with the state as a legislative lobbyist.

Although state law prohibits the Ethics Commission from accepting complaints from any entity that is not a “natural person,” they accepted the guild’s complaint anyway. And although the law requires that they reveal the identity of the complainant within five days, the Ethics Commission took over two months to tell me who the real complainant was. Then this panel of six men and women, all appointed by the governor, held a hearing behind closed doors with their own lawyer arguing against me. So much for impartial judges, the rule of law and transparency.

There was no evidence that I have ever been hired or paid by anyone for the purpose of talking to legislators, but using uncommon and strained definitions of “designated” and “employed,” the commission decided that I must register as a lobbyist and fined me $1,000 for failing to do so in the past. Nothing they are ordering me to do increases the transparency of my activities.

Why should you care?

This conclusion was not just contrary to the state’s own definition of what a lobbyist is, it was an attack on the constitutional rights of any citizen who tries to share their political ideas with those in power. If I can be confronted with fines and criminal penalties, just for speaking my mind and even when there is no money whatsoever involved in my efforts, then the government can threaten and intimidate anyone.

That is why, with help from two public interest law firms, the Center for Competitive Politics and the Freedom Center of Missouri, I am appealing the ethics commission’s ruling against me. I will fight this case as long and as far as I must, not only on my own behalf, but on behalf of all citizens who have opinions about how our state should be governed and wish to exercise their constitutional right to share those opinions with our elected officials.

Ron Calzone lives in Maries County in central Missouri, where he raises cattle and horses and owns a small manufacturing business. He is also one of the directors of Missouri First, a think tank devoted to limited, constitutional governance.

EPA Overreach

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

EPA’s power grab Water rule beyond its authority

By Rick Crawford and Randy Veach Special to the Democrat-Gazette

This article was published September 26, 2015 at 2:58 a.m.

In the 11th hour of a court dispute, Arkansas landowners were granted a temporary reprieve from an unprecedented expansion of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) jurisdiction, the Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS).

This new rule, advertised as a harmless effort to keep our water clean, actually implements the most restrictive land-use requirements imposed in decades.

While the promotion of clean water is an important government responsibility under the Clean Water Act, this rule goes far beyond a reasonable attempt to monitor and preserve clean water. Despite Supreme Court rulings that suggest the EPA is beyond its regulatory purview and without any directive from Congress, the WOTUS rule extends the agency’s authority to include small rivers, streams, ponds, and even ditches and low-lying land.

To make matters worse, in its zeal to pass WOTUS regardless of public opinion, the EPA actually began manufacturing support for the rule in an unprecedented and illegal grass-roots lobbying campaign using social media. The drive, meant to combat the negative comments the agency had received against WOTUS, increased artificial support that has since been used as proof of the rule’s popularity.

The most essential and democratic component of the rulemaking–the public notice and comment process–was abused and corrupted in a way that drowned out opposition to help justify the agency’s actions. Rulemaking by unelected agency officials should take into account the whole view from the affected public–not just its own and that of its political allies.

We are blessed with abundant water resources, all of which would be brought under EPA regulation if the WOTUS rule is allowed to stand, meaning farmers, ranchers, developers, and landowners would be subject to permit requirements, forced management practices, and nuisance lawsuits.

Thankfully, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of South Dakota issued a temporary injunction in late August, blocking the EPA from enacting WOTUS in 13 states (Arkansas included).

Judge Erickson’s injunction will remain in place until a complete hearing is held to determine the merits of the challenges filed by the 13 attorneys general, including Leslie Rutledge, who acted in the best interest of Arkansas landowners. In addition to Arkansas, the states included in the injunction are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Waters of the U.S. has to be stopped, not temporarily by injunction, but permanently. The EPA needs to withdraw this rule and start over.

Farmers are being drawn into the crosshairs by EPA even though they using the same safe, scientifically sound, and federally approved crop-protection tools they’ve used for years.

The courts or the U.S. Congress must prevent these rules from taking effect. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act. This legislation would restrict the EPA from implementing the WOTUS rule and send the EPA back to the drawing board in a way that requires local landowner and stakeholder involvement. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has not yet considered that legislation.

Judge Erickson’s injunction included some strong language, including that he found strong evidence that the EPA was arbitrary and capricious in its rulemaking. “It appears likely that the EPA has violated its congress-ional grant of authority in its promulgation of the rule,” he said as part of the ruling. Judge Erickson said the rule suffered from a “fatal defect” of allowing regulation of ditches and streams that were not connected to “navigable waters.”

Even in the face of this injunction order, the EPA has asserted that it will enforce the new rule in the 37 states not part of the North Dakota lawsuit. That means this unlawful rule will continue to create uncertainty and legal risk from nuisance lawsuits for commonplace land uses like farming and ranching.

While Arkansas is currently protected by the injunction, we hope that our system of checks and balances can permanently prevent this ill-conceived power grab from taking effect.

————v————

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford represents Arkansas’ 1st District. Randy Veach is president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau.

Editorial on 09/26/2015

Our 8th District Congressional Representative, Jason Smith, might be drawing an investigation his way due to a relationship with a Congressman that is in deep hot water. We’ll see how this pans out over the next several months. Excerpt is below, and click on the title or the link at the end to read the full story:

Smith-Schock ties attract scrutiny

By Scott Wong – 09/18/15 12:42 PM EDT

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) joined his close friend Aaron Schock on campaign and government trips and exotic vacations in 2014 that are being scrutinized by federal investigators looking into alleged spending abuses by the former congressman, who resigned in March.

One of the trips was a private charter flight that started in the Illinois Republican’s hometown of Peoria and made multiple campaign stops in Michigan and Indiana in late October 2014. It had not previously been reported that Smith, elected to Congress two years ago, was on that trip.
Revelations that Smith, 35, accompanied Schock on the campaign trip come the same week The Hill reported that Smith has hired Schock’s former chief of staff, Mark Roman, who managed the congressman’s office at the time of his spending scandal. (Full story here)

The Mountain Grove PRC will be having their meeting on Thursday, September 24th from 6-8pm at Sunnyside Restaurant on the north side of the Wal-Mart parking lot in Mountain Grove.

Bob Parker will be leading the meeting and topics will include the following:

•Suspension of the onerous water rule

•Real ID and Missouri licenses

• Legislative issues

• Updates on Oregon County’s property tax hike, and the DNR potential land takeover there

….And more!

Please come early and enjoy a meal from the Sunnyside menu or buffet before the meeting!

In August, I was invited to speak to a group at a pro-Life rally.  As a result, I realized that for some time we have merely been talking about putting a stop to abortion.  I believe that in our state we have more citizens who would like to see abortions end than not, so I’m hopeful that we will be successful in rallying together a significant number of citizens to speak out.

A basic belief of Christians is that God is the Creator and Giver of life.  And although He has given us a free will, the Sixth Commandment prohibits us from murder.  Yet, here we are….

From the time the US Supreme Court offered their opinion in Roe vs. Wade in 1973 to the end of 2013, the number of abortions performed in the United States have exceeded 56 million.  Annually, more than one million unborn children are killed as a result of abortion.

   The issue of abortion affects not only babies.  In addition,  women also suffer from physical and emotional problems,      and some die as a result complications from the  procedure.

Did you know that a Missouri law (RsMO 1.205) states that the general assembly recognizes that life begins at conception and that both the unborn child and the natural parents have a protectable interest in the life and health of the unborn child through every stage of development… unless an entity, such as the federal government, says otherwise.

The recent undercover videos exposing the alleged involvement of Planned Parenthood in the harvesting and sale of the body parts of unborn children has resulting in the anger of many calling for the defunding of the organization.  However, if we take a moment to ponder the bigger picture, we realize that this discussion surrounding Planned Parenthood would not be taking place if we did not allow the murder of our unborn children in the first place.

During the 2015 legislative session HB 1033 was filed.  The bill’s intent was to stop abortion in Missouri, based upon the statute previously mentioned.  The bill was allowed no committee hearing.

Since the Planned Parenthood fiasco, interest in reviving the bill for filing in the 2016 session has been expressed.  In order for the bill to be referred and heard in committee, the House leadership must have a reason to make that happen.  It is doubtful that a lobbyist with the power to move the bill through the process will make an effort to do so.  It is also doubtful that a legislator will, by himself, be allowed to force the bill’s passage.  It is, however, possible that through a grassroots effort, the leadership will take notice and allow the bill to be heard and perhaps even voted.

What will it take to cause the general assembly leaders to take notice?  That question may debatable, however, the Lord has impressed a goal of 1 million signatures in my mind.  In order to accomplish this goal, we must act immediately and work consistently – from now until the end of 2015.

    If you are willing, please forward the attached petition to your  Missouri friends and family for their signatures and ask them to pass it on to others to do the same?

    The more involvement we have, the greater our chance for  success will be.

(Click Stop Abortion – with e-mail and county for a Word copy to collect signatures)

C4L Meeting TONIGHT in West Plains

Posted: September 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

From Don Eagleman:

You are invited to meet with the Howell County Campaign for Liberty Group Thursday, September 17. At 7:00p Shawn Rhodes, our state representative, will give us a recap of this years legislative session and his take on the veto session. There’ll be time for questions and answers.  We meet at Chen’s Garden, 1705 Gibson, in West Plains.  Come at 6:00p to eat and visit.

This month’s agenda:

  • 7:00 – report on items of interest around the state
    • 7:30 – Shawn Rhodes to speak

Shawn Rhodes will report on this years Missouri legislative session from his perspective. It’s our opportunity to get his take on how things went and asked him why he voted the way he did on certain measures. We will also get his views on the veto session. We can discuss legislature we would like to see passed the next session. And we can ask about his plans for the future.

We will have reports to bring us up to date in the following areas:

–         New ONSR plan

–         COS update

–         Candidates for next election (sheriff, county commissioners, etc.)

–         Missouri legislative session information

–         Mike Slack –  Report on Tax protest & Miscellaneous

–         Other –

Josh Cotter is scheduled to speak to us November 19.  I’ll try getting the new editor of the Quill for our October meeting.

I have copies of the General Assembly Roster 2015 which has contact information for our state and federal elected officials. Copies will be available at this meeting.  Copies of the US and MO constitutions and  Howell County Campaign for Liberty Group business cards will be available as well.  Copies of the 5000 year leap and Agenda 21 material will also be available as will “The Victory for State Sovereignty”, Mack/Prinz vs. USA by Sheriff Richard Mack. There are also newsletters from various organizations available.

This issue first came to light well over a year ago. It’s insane that the EPA thinks it has the right to fine this man, while they give themselves a pass for dumping millions of gallons of waste -including arsenic and lead- in Colorado.

Let’s make no bones about it: The Environmental Protection Agency is an unconstitutional agency in the federal government, run by unelected people, whose underlying foundation is communism through environmental regulations, and those regulations are as unconstitutional as the agency itself. Now, the EPA is fining a Wyoming rancher for building a pond on his own property. The cost? $37,000 per day! That’s $16 million!

In 2012, the EPA ordered Andy Johnson to remove a small pond he built on his property. According to the agency, Johnson was in violation of the Clean Water Act.

However, Johnson claims that he followed the law.

Johnson told Watchdog.org, “We went through all the hoops that the state of Wyoming required, and I’m proud of what we built. The EPA ignored all that.”

The EPA then gave him 30 days to restore the property to the pre-pond condition, which Johnson said was “physically impossible.”

Watchdog.org reports:

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court on Thursday, lawyers representing Johnson argue the EPA overstepped its authority by fining the rancher.

“Threatening me with ruinous fines even though I’ve done nothing wrong is extortionate,” he said in a statement provided by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm representing Johnson. “This is a battle about more than my land, my livestock and my pond. The EPA is on a mission to expand its power.  They want to take over jurisdiction over private property throughout the United States.”

In a statement provided by an EPA spokesman, the agency said it and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been working with Johnson for “many months” to resolve the issue. The agency says the fines issued to Johnson were not final and were simply examples of the maximum penalties that could be issued.

“EPA has not made any determinations regarding penalties in this matter nor made any penalty demand of Mr. Johnson,” said Julia Valentine, spokeswoman for the EPA. “An order the agency sent to Mr. Johnson in January 2014 cites the maximum penalties for noncompliance established by Congress in the Clean Water Act.  References to these penalty provisions are included in all EPA enforcement orders to ensure that respondents are fully aware of the relevant provisions of environmental laws.”

However, the biggest problem the tyrants at the EPA face is that they have yet to explain how Johnson is in violation of the Clean Water Act. They did, however, provide a statement to AgFax.com, an agricultural journal.

The issue is whether Mr. Johnson qualified for the stock pond exemption. To qualify for this exemption, the pond must actually be used in farming or ranching operations, and it is only exempt to the size the farmer requires it to meet operational needs,” the EPA statement said, according to AgFax. “Ponds created for aesthetic or other non-farming-related purposes do not qualify for the exemption.”

Johnathan Wood, a staff attorney at PLF, told Watchdog.org, “Under the plain terms of the Clean Water Act, he was entirely within his rights and didn’t need federal bureaucrats’ permission.”

Both Wood and Johnson claim the pond actually improved the environment. They claim the pond created a wetland, where there had only existed a small creek, that it provided a habitat for Johnson’s animals and other wildlife in the area, including eagles and moose, and that the water in the pond is actually cleaner than the water flowing into it.

So, why the clamp down on this rancher? Seems to me, that he was looking to the future of this stock pond to be a means of providing food and water for his family. The feds just can’t have that as they do not believe in freedom and self-reliance, but on government tyranny and dependence.

America, we may have another Cliven Bundy situation on our hands in the near future at the Johnson ranch.

Read more at http://freedomoutpost.com/2015/09/obamas-epa-fines-rancher-16-million-for-what-he-did-on-his-own-property/#1MCdgSUyQQEoA5uZ.99