(Assemblyman Ed Goedhart) – By now many of you have heard about the sweetheart deal Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) cut for longtime political contributor Anderson Dairy of Las Vegas in 1999, and the subsequent negative consequences to Nevada’s economy and jobs in the dairy farming and cow milking industries that resulted.
However, you probably haven’t yet heard that Sen. Reid and Anderson Dairy were up to their old tricks once again in 2006. In this instance, Sen. Reid rammed through legislation that targeted a single dairyman, Hein Hettinga, who was daring to sell his milk for 20 cents per gallon cheaper than his competitors.
According to a December 2006 story in the Washington Post – hardly a mouthpiece for conservative thought and opinion – Sen. Reid used the very power and prestige he’s now campaigning on tighten up federal regulations to punish Mr. Hettinga’s business and further undermine the free market in the dairy industry. As a result, Mr. Hettinga, unbelievably, is now being forced to pay competitors such as Anderson Dairy out of the profits from his own business.
“I had an awakening,” the 64-year-old Dutch-born dairyman told the Post after the bill was approved. “It’s not totally free enterprise in the United States.”
Harry Reid’s special interest legislation – passed without a single congressional hearing or a roll call vote on the Senate floor – ended Hettinga’s experiment in free market economics and reshaped the Western milk market while simultaneously using the power of his elected office to benefit a major “soft money” contributor.
And the kicker? Hein Hettinga is a Nevada dairyman who milks cows in Pahrump. But when it came time to expand his operation, instead of doing so in here in Nevada, he opened operations in Texas and New Mexico to get away from Harry Reid’s shenanigans.
Yes, Sen. Reid has truly been a leader in economic development and job creation. Too bad it’s been in states other than the one he represents. Contrary to the myth created by his campaign team and image gurus, nobody has done less for Nevada than Harry Reid.
Unless, of course, you’re a major pay-to-play donor like Anderson Dairy.
(Assemblyman Goedhart manages the Ponderosa Dairy in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, the largest dairy operation in the state)