Thursday, September 26, 2002

Lucas named on 'dirty dozen' list

Environmental group to air ads

By Dave Niinemets
Enquirer contributor

        COVINGTON — U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas has found himself in the crosshairs of an environmental special interest group as election day nears.

        The League of Conservation Voters was in Covington Wednesday to announce that Mr. Lucas, D-Fort Mitchell, has been named to their “Dirty Dozen” list of Congress members.

        The group says Mr. Lucas' voting record has had a negative effect on water and air quality and farmland conservation in Kentucky's 4th District.

        “He claims to be a common sense conservative but his record doesn't reflect conservative values at all,” said Betsy Loyless, political director for the LCV. “There is bad water quality in local streams. Six of the counties in his district suffer from bad air days. And he votes against the public's right to know about air quality.”

        Ms. Loyless said the result is an unhealthy quality of life for constituents and negative effects on economic development.

   Rep. Ken Lucas, D-Ky.
   Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.
   Rep. Helen Bentley, R-Md.
   Rep. George Gekas, R-Pa.
   Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
   Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
   Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo.
   Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H.
   Four more congressmen will be added in the coming week.
        “Employers don't seek to locate where there is dirty water and that hurts the economy,” she said.

        Ben Davis, campaign manager for Mr. Lucas, said the Lucas camp has tried to discuss the matter with the LCV but has not gotten a response.

        “Ken Lucas has worked in a bi-partisan way to support both balanced economic development and job creation in Kentucky,” Mr. Davis said. “He has an impeccable record on issues that matter most to Kentucky families, including job creation, affordable health care, prescription drugs and education reform. And he works to protect the interests of Kentucky farmers as well as the environment.”

        Ms. Loyless announced that the LCV will begin a series of local television and radio commercials denouncing Mr. Lucas immediately. She would not reveal how much money will be spent on the ad campaign other than to say it was significant.

        “We'll work hard for the next 41 days to inform voters about whether Ken Lucas should be elected for a third term,” said Ms. Loyless.

        The political committee of LCV, which decides who to put on the Dirty Dozen list, includes members of The Wilderness Society, the Environmental Defense Fund, U.S Public Interest Research Group, the National Parks Conservation Association, Trout Unlimited, Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

        Mr. Lucas has not been on the “Dirty Dozen” list in the past. According to Ms. Loyless, there have been 37 candidates on the list since it began in 1996 and 23 have been defeated.

        By default, the LCV winds up supporting Republican challenger Geoff Davis. Ms. Loyless said the intent is not to support Mr. Davis but rather to expose Mr. Lucas.

        “(Supporting Geoff Davis) is not our direct focus,” she said. “At this campaign, we're looking very squarely at Ken Lucas' record.”

        Geoff Davis released the following statement in regards to the LCV announcement.

        “While I can't say that I agree with all the issues represented by the League of Conservation Voters, I certainly support their right to free speech,” he said. “It is groups like LCV that Ken Lucas wants to silence by his leadership on the campaign finance reform legislation, which mutes an individual's freedom of speech.”

        Ben Davis said this sort of late campaign influence is what campaign reform will stop.

        After November, such groups will not be allowed to start such movements within 60 days of the election. He said it's an example of a special interest group getting its last shots in before the laws change. He said the worst part is, no one knows who is behind the group's possible agenda.

        “It's incredibly frustrating,” he said. “This isn't about issue advocacy, it's about directly affecting an election.”

        Mr. Lucas is the fourth representative to be named to the list, along with four senators. Ms. Loyless said the other four will be revealed in the coming week. Mr. Lucas is also the only Democrat to be named to the list. There were no Democrats on the list in 2000.lucasFrom Page Claims against LucasThe following are areas in which the LCV says Mr. Lucas has failed:

        Voting against clean rivers and streams. In 2001 they say, he voted against legislation that would reduce pollution from animal waste.

        They say he's voted twice against reducing arsenic levels in drinking water.

        They say in 2000 he voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from letting the public know about the air quality in their communities as a first step in carrying out new rules concerning ozone levels.

        Not protecting farms from development sprawl. They say in 2001, Mr. Lucas voted against legislation that would have helped to protect farmland near cities from development by expanding the federal Farmland Protection Program.


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