The Obama administration seems intent on appointing people to posts within the federal government who have backgrounds that are antithetical to the job appointments. Big Government covered a story a while back regarding former trial lawyer Dudley Butler who now serves as the federal government’s Administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) :
Before his nomination by President Obama as Administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) – an agency charged with monitoring the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat and other ag products and ensuring healthy competition — he was an attorney in the Butler Farm and Ranch Law Group in Canton, Mississippi and well-known to the meat and poultry industry. He was one of the “Johnnie Cochrans” of ag law: “Got a chicken? Got a case.”
His appointment as GIPSA Administrator was hailed by the populist group R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America), where he was previously a member, and by the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), which he helped to found. While Butler’s legal efforts to bring Packers and Stockyards Act cases against poultry companies failed, his nomination as GIPSA administrator made R-CALF and friends realize they had hit pay-dirt: The friendly lawyer who donated a saddle to their 2009 Convention fundraising auction now might be able to alter the very rules that had been an obstacle to success in court.
Yesterday, Big Government followed up on the story and are pointing out that not only are conservatives finding a conflict of interest with Mr. Butler being in the position he is in but also liberals are uneasy about the circumstances:
Conservatives calling attention to the conflict of interest of a liberals Administration’s political appointees is not new, nor is the reverse. But this cause has been joined…
CREW, the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the liberal government watch-dog group, has joined the fight.
In a press release Monday, CREW asked “Is a former trial lawyer turned government official making policy decisions at the Department of Agriculture that will serve his future personal financial interests?” We don’t often agree with CREW, but in this case they are correct.
Industry publication Beef Magazine reported on what Butler was saying to industry friends thusly:
“When you have a term like ‘unfair, unreasonable or undue prejudice,’ that’s a plaintiff lawyer’s dream. We can get in front of a jury with that. We won’t get thrown out on what we call summary judgment because that’s a jury question.”
This and Butler’s past were enough for CREW’s Executive Director Melanie Sloan to issue the following statement:
“When he took office, President Obama issued an order closing the revolving door that allowed departing executive branch officials to cash in on their government service. While the new policy was aimed at those who lobby after leaving office, the same rationale applies here. Mr. Butler stands to benefit financially once he leaves the government by exploiting a loophole he helped create. Whether or not this meets the legal standard of a conflict of interest, it seems wrong. The Department of Agriculture should bar Mr. Butler from continued work on these regulations and the department should consider reissuing them for further public comment.”
Such criticism about an Obama appointee from both liberals and conservatives shows this is just another example of the Obama administration not being able to deliver on promises that it would halt the lobbyists walking through a revolving doors of the administration.