Members of Congress call for quick action by the Obama Administration to save jobs and halt activist judge and former partner at Morrison & Foerster (www.mofo.com)
Congressmen Devin Nunes and Jeff Denham, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Chairman Rob Bishop, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, today called on the Obama Administration to act to protect the jobs of backcountry horsemen who are being threatened by a liberal activist judge and a National Park Service decision to delay permits for commercial operators.
"There are approximately 500 jobs hanging in the balance. The Obama Administration must act swiftly to seek permission from the courts to issue a one year permit to save these small businesses," said Rep. Devin Nunes. "I am working with Chairman Bishop and the House Natural Resources Committee in an effort to convince them to do just that."
A recent federal court decision has resulted in alterations to the permitting process necessary for pack and saddle backcountry horsemen to enter the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. If commercial operating permits are not granted, backcountry operations will be suspended. Many of these family businesses cannot survive an economic blow of this magnitude. According to the Park Service, Judge Richard Seeborg denied a request to expedite a hearing on issuing permits.
"The Obama Administration must issue these permits immediately. Issuing the permits would prevent the cancellation of tourism associated with the pack and saddle companies, and the subsequent revenue upon which so many jobs and businesses in this area rely," said Chairman Bishop. "Congress clearly intended for these family owned and operated companies to continue at these parks as they have for decades. This is another example of this Administration's ongoing assault on access to public lands and further illustrates that they will always place radical special interest groups before hard-working Americans."
"At a time of unacceptably high unemployment rates, refusing to act to save these jobs and preserve access to our public lands is intolerable. I will continue to fight against the Obama Administration's war on western jobs, and instead work for commonsense policies that help create jobs and preserve important access to our national treasures," said Majority Whip McCarthy.
It is within the Obama Administration's power to once again seek permission for a one year permit for commercial backcountry horsemen operations.
"Preventing access to federal lands harms small, rural communities that rely on tourism to bring dollars in to the community," said Rep. Jeff Denham. "There has been a concerted effort by this Administration to limit access to public lands without due consideration to the impacts on local communities. Federal lands are publicly owned and should be managed in the best interest of the public, not to their detriment."
"I don't agree with the ruling by the newly appointed liberal activist judge. Federal law is clear. Congress intended that backcountry horsemen have access to the park," said Rep. Nunes. "The ruling in itself is not an excuse to shut down an entire season of commercial operations. It defies common sense that officials have so far refused to actively protect jobs."
This lawsuit, filed in late 2009 by the High Sierra Hikers Association, was bankrolled by Morrison & Foerster a politically connected San Francisco law firm. Judge Richard Seeborg, who presided over the case, is a former partner at Morrison & Foerster. The law firm, better known as "MoFo" as chided by Jay Leno (see video), has contributed more than $100,000 in campaign contributions to liberal Democrat Members of Congress and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
Law firms such as "MoFo" claim to do this type of legal work "pro bono". In this case, "MoFo" who is reported to have a record $930 million in revenue last year, will see a big payday from the federal government as a result of the Equal Access to Justice Act. This law stipulates that attorney's fees be reimbursed by the taxpayers in successful cases.
"The conflict of interest in this case is appalling. At a minimum the judge should have recused himself," said Rep. Nunes.