Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Joe L. Barton
Employer: U.S. Congress
Home: Ennis, TX
Representative Joe Barton started his career as an aide to Reagan Energy Secretary James Edwards, a pioneer of natural gas price deregulation. Barton parlayed this post into a brief consulting job with ARCO before his 1984 election as one of Congress’ most conservative members. Barton has crusaded against things that politicians arguably cannot control: homosexuality, abortion and drugs. Conversely, he has fought efforts to control guns and tobacco. Critics say tobacco influence explains the jihad that Barton’s subcommittee waged against the Food and Drug Administration. Barton is an even greater champion of the energy industry, which regularly tops off his political war chests. Barton stuck provisions in the 2003 energy bill to give the Dallas-Fort Worth region more time to flunk clean-air standards. The bill failed because of another Barton-championed provision to shield the petrochemical industry from liability for the carcinogenic gasoline additive MTBE. While Barton opposes most foreign aid, he was a top cheerleader for the defunct $11 billion physics super collider boondoggle that Congress started to build in his old district (see George Bayoud, Fred Bucy and Bill Ceverha). Right or wrong, this self-described “cranky contrarian” has been known to stand alone. He was the sole committee member to request the resignation of International Olympic Committee head Juan Antonio Samaranch and to oppose immunity for junk-bond felons Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky. More recently, Rep. Barton played a role in a corporate scandal. Troubled Westar Energy got Barton to insert special provisions into 2002 energy legislation to let Westar split off its regulated utility from its heavily indebted other businesses--a split that would facilitate saddling ratepayers with $1 billion Westar’s non-utility debts. Company documents suggest that four GOP members of Congress whose support Westar solicited, including Reps. Barton and Tom DeLay (see Randy DeLay), directed Westar to channel $56,500 into GOP campaign coffers. The Senate dropped this sweetheart provision after learning that a federal grand jury was probing Westar fraud allegations. “To be told there’s some quid pro quo,” Barton said, “that’s just stupid.” Barton met with Pioneer Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick in February 2003 to discuss redistricting Texas’ Congressional districts—a top priority of Tom DeLay. When powerful House Energy and Commerce Chair Billy Tauzin announced his retirement in early 2004, Barton assumed that helm.
Profile last updated Feb 18, 2004
Somebody needs to send a big bottle of soothing hemoroid cream to Mr. Barton. That man has one bad case of cranky ass. And Stupak reminds me of the bullies I use to see out on the school yard grass. You know the type. They end up years later being the guys who love to beat up all those who work under them. How did the people of Michigan end up sending a guy like Stupak to Congress? Is Stupak the best that Michigan has to offer? No wonder they call that area the Rust Bowl.