Thursday, April 5, 2012

Press Release: 500 Jobs in Jeopardy While “MoFo” Law Firm Packs-in the Cash

Members of Congress call for quick action by the Obama Administration to save jobs and halt activist judge and former partner at Morrison & Foerster (

Washington DC – 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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Job Killers Loose in our National Parks

Our jobs are under attack.

Rural mountain communities are once again in the cross-hairs of liberal politicians and regulators. Having already devastated California’s mining and timber industries with laws and regulations limiting access to public lands, environmental radicals have moved full speed into a new round of limitations that impact recreational use of our National Parks. They want to eliminate the backcountry horsemen, the only means left by which the vast majority of Americans, including those with disabilities, are able to gain access to the American wilderness.

Backcountry horsemen are part of the American story and have, since the settling of the West, been responsible for packing people and supplies into some of the most remote places. They are environmentalists, not in the modern sense, but in the true sense. These hardworking entrepreneurs understand that public access and conservation belong together and are sharply contrasted with the vast majority of urban activists who fund and support the modern environmental movement.  Unlike the urban zealots, backcountry horsemen actually understand the wilderness and are personally invested in its survival.

Despite these facts, well-funded radicals are working to put backcountry horsemen out of business. They filed and won a lawsuit which alleged that operating permits for these businesses required compliance with environmental laws related to wilderness areas. The activists and court would have us believe that horses and pack mules are a threat to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, despite their longstanding presence in the area and despite a specific Congressional directive to the contrary (see here).

Ironically, the Obama Administration is pushing backcountry horsemen out of business at the same time it is urging Americans to “get outdoors.” The White House initiative is based on President Obama’s belief that government investments in outdoor activities are good for the economy.

The White House could demonstrate an interest in protecting these “outdoor” jobs with a simple act – one that it has so far refused to entertain. The Administration simply needs to ask the court for a one year extension of existing permits. A one year extension would allow adequate time for the permitting process to be updated in order to reflect new wilderness requirements and it may spare the small but time honored industry from the chopping block.