Conrad Burns registers as lobbyist for horse group
Posted on April 9
By MARY CLARE JALONICK of the Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Former Sen. Conrad Burns has registered as a lobbyist,
working for a group that supports the slaughter of wild horses.
Burns registered with the Senate as a lobbyist for the American Quarter
Horse Association Feb. 7, just a few weeks after he became eligible to
lobby under Senate rules.
He left the Senate in January 2007 after he was narrowly defeated by
Democrat Jon Tester, and former members are not allowed to lobby for one
year after their departure. New ethics rules have expanded that period
to two years.
The issue of wild horse slaughter was important to Burns, a Republican,
while he was in the Senate.
In 2004, he authored a law that would give the Bureau of Land Management
expanded authority to sell the oldest wild horses and reduce what the
government and ranchers says is an overpopulation of horses on the
range. Since then, some lawmakers and animal rights groups have pushed
to ban the practice.
In a statement Wednesday, Burns said he is working on behalf of the
organization because he strongly believes that “current proposals before
Congress are being advocated by those who don’t have a full
understanding of agriculture and the negative impact proposed changes
would have upon an industry that prides itself in the humane treatment
of their horses.”
“The American Quarter Horse Association is the premier advocacy group on
this issue and someone I have worked with for many, many years and I am
honored to be able to continue that working relationship today,” he said.
Burns’ relationships with lobbyists were a key issue in his campaign
against Tester. He was part of a Department of Justice investigation of
jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff during the campaign, and Democrats used
the issue against him. In January, the government said Burns was no
longer part of the probe.
Abramoff is the key figure in a corruption investigation that has led to
convictions of a former congressman, legislative aides, lobbyists and
officials in the Bush administration. Burns had accepted about $150,000
in contributions from Abramoff, his clients and associates. He later
gave that money away.
One of Burns’ former staffers, Ryan Thomas, registered with Burns to
lobby for the horse group. Thomas was also associated with Abramoff and
flew to the 2001 Super Bowl on Abramoff’s corporate jet, according to a
2005 Washington Post report.
Burns works for Gage LLC, a lobbying firm founded by his former chief of
staff Leo A. Giacometto.