According to Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) may face charges of ethics violations as a result of the use of official House Natural Resources Committee communications channels in attacking apparel manufacturer Patagonia, made in response to Patagonia's continued efforts to educate Americans on threats to U.S. public lands.
Posting on Twitter, Schaub noted that "When a federal government official publicly calls you a liar on an official social media account, without any due process whatsoever, the first thing you should do is call a lawyer." Schaub added (while citing the House Committees' Congressional Handbook), "The House committees handbook limits Committee social media communications much likeMember social media accounts. This attack on @patagonia sure looks a lot like a violation."
Earlier this month, the Twitter Account of the House Natural Resources Committee, which Bishop chairs, posted an image to Twitter that reads, “Patagonia Is Lying To You ... A corporate giant hijacking our public lands debate to sell more products to wealthy elitist urban dwellers from New York to San Francisco.” The post was in response to Patagonia's recent posting of a full-screen image on its website (pictured above) which reads, "The President Stole Your Land" and which links to this microsite that seeks to educate viewers about the public lands debate and inform them of ways to get involved and take action.
If you're not familiar with Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), you probably should be. Bishop is a brought-to-life exaggerated caricature of a politician bought and sold by corporations and the wealthy. Elected to represent the citizens of Utah, Bishop actually receives over 92% of his campaign funding from sources outside the state. Unsurprisingly, those sources are predominated by special interests. Bishop's top source of campaign funding? You guessed it. Oil and gas. Other top contributors include the casino and gambling industry, lobbyists, the logging and mining industry and big agribusiness.
Given Bishop's funding, it should come as little surprise that Bishop has for many years led the charge to privatize America's public lands—unabashedly seeking to open those lands to oil and gas development. Among his list of accomplishments, Bishop can cite his important role in seeing to the expiration of the universally beloved LWCF (Land and Water Conservation Fund), the introduction of the comically draconian PARC Act (which sought to severely limit the federal government's ability to acquire new lands for wilderness preservation and offered huge financial handouts to the oil and gas industry) and his strong ties to corporate bill mill ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), which crafts corporate-friendly legislation which members of congress later peddle on the house and senate floors and which counts among its Private Enterprise Advisory Council representatives from corporations such as Koch Industries, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and Peabody Energy, just to name a few.
This week, Bishop continued his taunting of Patagonia and its founder, Yvon Chouinard, who recently said during an interview on CNN, "This government is evil and I’m not going to sit back and let evil win." This past Friday, Bishop (R-Utah) sent a letter to Chouinard inviting him to testify in front of his committee. “There is much public interest in this matter,” Bishop wrote. “It is apparent through multiple media accounts and appearances that you have strong feelings on the topic as well ... As part of this continuing process, I wish to invite you to testify before the committee about your views on federal land management.”
Yesterday, Chouinard and Patagonia responded to Bishop's invitation, no doubt taking into account Bishop's long and well documented history of seeking to undermine public land holdings throughout the West in an effort to open those lands to extraction industries. Chouinard, in turning down Bishop's invitation, wrote, "It is clear the House Committee on Natural Resources, like many committees in this failed Orwellian government, is shackled to special interests of oil, gas, and mining and will seek to sell off our public lands at every turn and continue to weaken and denigrate Theodore Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act, which has preserved our treasured public lands for over 100 years."
See Yvon Chouinard's full response below.