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Sportsmen's Groups Should Publish a Congressional Report Card

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January 15, 2014

Sportsmen's Groups Should Publish a Congressional Report Card

By Bob Marshall

My New Year's resolutions included the following pledges: Never avoid unpleasant subjects, but always suggest solutions.

The following questions-and-answers are offered to honor those aims.

1. What word best describes how many members of Congress view sportsmen's conservation groups:

A) Chumps
B) Patsies
C) Pushovers
D) Marks
E) All of the above.

The answer: E.

2. How do you change that?

Answer: Compile scorecards revealing their votes on important bills, and send them out to sportsmen.

The lesson of question No. 1 is written in the congressional record of the last few years. If you page through past posts here at The Conservationist, you'll notice the same issues coming up again and again and again. And you'll also notice that each of the last few years has ended with sportsmen claiming "victory" by limiting damages, not stopping them. It's like saying Pearl Harbor was a victory because we didn't lose the carriers.

This is not meant to insult the many dedicated, hardworking folks pounding the halls of Congress for sportsmen's conservation groups. It's an attempt to share with sportsmen the reality these selfless people endure for our benefit.

The work of lobbying politicians is seldom an ego-builder—unless the interest group you work for represents millions in campaign contributions or votes. An advocacy group representing big-donor industries such as energy or land development will get plenty of face time and plenty of votes. But someone knocking on doors for the environmental protections required for quality hunting and fishing gets little of each.

Many sportsmen are under the mistaken impression their favorite congressperson is only dismissive of green advocates from the hard-core environmental groups. It's an easy mistake to make, because that Senator or Representative is always ready to show up at a DU banquet or send out rousing press releases supporting the Second Amendment. They say how much they love us and how hard they work for us.

But the ugly truth is that once they head back to D.C., most of your congressional delegation has likely been voting against your best interests.

Yet once those disappointing votes are cast, the folks working on our behalf at sportsmen's conservation groups have to swallow their pride and continue to treat the offending pols as if they're sportsmen's best friends. They turn the other cheek again and again because they know just how much more damage that pol can do if he or she gets really angry.

These votes against sportsmen's interests have been more numerous and egregious in the last four to six years than ever before. Because they have brought funding for conservation almost to a standstill, the damage is piling up.

 Veteran sportsmen's lobbyists know irreparable harm is being done and are desperate to get sportsmen off their shell buckets and vocally into the fight. I have a few solutions to suggest.

First, start naming names. Don't send out press releases saying "Congress" failed to vote the right way when only certain members of congress were the miscreants.

Traditionally sportsmen's conservation groups have avoided being totally honest with their members for fear of alienating the pols named. But how effective has that been? When the offending congressmen and women know they won't be held accountable for their votes, where's the deterrent?

Take a lesson from the League of Conservation Voters. For years they have maintained the National Environmental Scorecard that allows any voters to find out how his delegation has voted on key pieces of environmental legislation. You can go there now, click on your state, discover how your pols voted, and what grade the LCV thinks they should have on green issues.

Unfortunately, while the LCV tracks many of the same issues important to sportsmen, they pass on others—and some bills they like would not best serve sportsmen's interests.

That's why we need a National Sportsmen's Conservation Scorecard. The effort should track not just final votes on key bills, but also votes as the measure moves through the committee process.

The groups should put that scorecard on your Web site, then send releases to the media and special emails to members each time a key vote is taken.

Let the rank-and-file sportsmen know how the pols representing them voted.

Will that anger some of the politicians? Sure.

But ask yourself this final question:

3. What do politicians call a group they keep taking advantage of?

Answer: See Question No. 1 above.

Comments (8)

Top Rated
All Comments
from aferraro wrote 14 weeks 11 hours ago

It is truly pathetic that Bob Marshall is allowed to write his leftism dribble in a hunting magazine.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 14 weeks 11 hours ago

The bill that was shot down in the senate just after it opened for the post election session was pretty bad, had everything in it.

That said I do believe it's better to give them a score than to call them names, the goal is to get them to vote better not alienate them forever.

Sportsmen's caucus is the biggest caucus in congress, I always wonder why there isn't a teeny bit more muscle flexing.

Of course a lot of actual decisions are made at the state level. They control wildlife.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from marceaton wrote 14 weeks 5 hours ago

And every right wing nut should be allowed to write anything they want? I come to this website to get hunting and fishing information and I have to wade through knee deep crap leaking out of every right winger in the country just to find what I'm looking for. Get a grip aferraro.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

marceaton, I suggest you get a grip and actually try reading comments and articles because the majority of which suit your political leanings. Your no different than Mr. Marshall, by only taking in part of a story that matters to you and throwing the rest out the window no matter how important the rest is.

I like your idea Bob, but lets refine it a bit. How about we make note of those who add pork to "Conservation Bills" causing them not to pass? Also why don't we take note of who actually proposes true "Conservation Bills" not welfare bills with a measly pittance of a money going to conservation? Now we would be on to something food for thought! I know as always your mind is made and the evil Rightwingnuts as marceaton so affectionately refers to those with more sense than himself hate everything conservation related.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Constant Gardener wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

D! You're back! I was afraid you'd dropped out of school. This year, let's learn about "your," a word describing possession, and "you're," a contraction of "you" and "are." I'll give you an example of how they are used so you can commit it to memory. "D, your report cards must have been a great disappointment to your parents. I don't think you're living up to your potential." Grammar, D! Learn it, love it, live it.

Now, I do have to agree with your (see?) idea that Marshall's idea needs refinement. Though we shouldn't veer into macroeconomics and granular legislating as you suggest. How about instead of ceding the ground to LCV, we make a F&S report card. F&S should track bills over the course of the year and expose every single congress critter who votes against clean air, clean water and wilderness preservation. And then we, the F&S family, should insist that our representatives represent, or lead a sportsman's crusade to find better representatives.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dougfir wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

Can you imagine what would happen if the hunting and fishing community and the environmental community could act as one (as they should)?! We'd be unstoppable. It's so hard to read people trashing Bob Marshall's ideas, when I know many are the same folks who complain that 'there's less access to good hunting land', or 'the fishing used to be a lot better here'... The disconnect is disheartening, but Bob, I appreciate your articles and one of the reasons I read Field and Stream is that it's not afraid to admit that *just maybe* we might all have a vested interest in protecting our lands and waters. Keep it up!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 13 weeks 4 days ago

Give D an A+ for paying attention.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 13 weeks 1 day ago

Bob pretends that he is complaining about Congress. The Federal Government was making life as painful as possible for sportsmen during the shutdown. He wants the government to have control over more and more of your life. No non-approved actions will be tolerated, right Bob? Non-elected groups like Greenpeace and The Environmental Defense Fund should tell the non-elected EPA what to shove down our throats. Bob is very fond of the deep pocketed "Big Green" groups.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Dougfir wrote 13 weeks 5 days ago

Can you imagine what would happen if the hunting and fishing community and the environmental community could act as one (as they should)?! We'd be unstoppable. It's so hard to read people trashing Bob Marshall's ideas, when I know many are the same folks who complain that 'there's less access to good hunting land', or 'the fishing used to be a lot better here'... The disconnect is disheartening, but Bob, I appreciate your articles and one of the reasons I read Field and Stream is that it's not afraid to admit that *just maybe* we might all have a vested interest in protecting our lands and waters. Keep it up!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 14 weeks 11 hours ago

The bill that was shot down in the senate just after it opened for the post election session was pretty bad, had everything in it.

That said I do believe it's better to give them a score than to call them names, the goal is to get them to vote better not alienate them forever.

Sportsmen's caucus is the biggest caucus in congress, I always wonder why there isn't a teeny bit more muscle flexing.

Of course a lot of actual decisions are made at the state level. They control wildlife.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Constant Gardener wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

D! You're back! I was afraid you'd dropped out of school. This year, let's learn about "your," a word describing possession, and "you're," a contraction of "you" and "are." I'll give you an example of how they are used so you can commit it to memory. "D, your report cards must have been a great disappointment to your parents. I don't think you're living up to your potential." Grammar, D! Learn it, love it, live it.

Now, I do have to agree with your (see?) idea that Marshall's idea needs refinement. Though we shouldn't veer into macroeconomics and granular legislating as you suggest. How about instead of ceding the ground to LCV, we make a F&S report card. F&S should track bills over the course of the year and expose every single congress critter who votes against clean air, clean water and wilderness preservation. And then we, the F&S family, should insist that our representatives represent, or lead a sportsman's crusade to find better representatives.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from marceaton wrote 14 weeks 5 hours ago

And every right wing nut should be allowed to write anything they want? I come to this website to get hunting and fishing information and I have to wade through knee deep crap leaking out of every right winger in the country just to find what I'm looking for. Get a grip aferraro.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 13 weeks 6 days ago

marceaton, I suggest you get a grip and actually try reading comments and articles because the majority of which suit your political leanings. Your no different than Mr. Marshall, by only taking in part of a story that matters to you and throwing the rest out the window no matter how important the rest is.

I like your idea Bob, but lets refine it a bit. How about we make note of those who add pork to "Conservation Bills" causing them not to pass? Also why don't we take note of who actually proposes true "Conservation Bills" not welfare bills with a measly pittance of a money going to conservation? Now we would be on to something food for thought! I know as always your mind is made and the evil Rightwingnuts as marceaton so affectionately refers to those with more sense than himself hate everything conservation related.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 13 weeks 4 days ago

Give D an A+ for paying attention.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 13 weeks 1 day ago

Bob pretends that he is complaining about Congress. The Federal Government was making life as painful as possible for sportsmen during the shutdown. He wants the government to have control over more and more of your life. No non-approved actions will be tolerated, right Bob? Non-elected groups like Greenpeace and The Environmental Defense Fund should tell the non-elected EPA what to shove down our throats. Bob is very fond of the deep pocketed "Big Green" groups.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from aferraro wrote 14 weeks 11 hours ago

It is truly pathetic that Bob Marshall is allowed to write his leftism dribble in a hunting magazine.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

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