By guest columnist Ernesto Cullari.
triCityNews, Asbury Park, NJ
What does Democrat Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. have to show for his 20 plus years in office? He has his well-crafted talking points. For example, he claims to care for senior citizens, he touts his concern for the environment and he feigns expertise on healthcare issues, but other than pandering to certain segments of his constituency what has Frank Pallone actually done with his political clout, other than help his wife, Sarah Hospodor-Pallone, land a lucrative job at the EPA?
To be specific, during his tenure as Congressman of New Jersey’s sixth Congressional district Pallone claims to have expanded access to healthcare, yet his behemoth healthcare legislation cuts benefits to disabled children and seniors, prevents physicians from competing with operating room services also provided by publicly funded hospitals and creates government rationing bureaucracies to decide who does and doesn’t receive certain medical treatments. Pallone has given the federal government an insurmountable advantage in administering medical care thus making it difficult for all other private practice competitors to continue to work. Details within his legislative record indicates that there is a vast difference between how Congressman Pallone portrays both himself and the laws that he writes with who Frank Pallone really is.
Perhaps the most recent example of Congressman Frank Pallone’s duplicity is that he claims to be a champion for the environment yet he has failed for decades at his Constitutional duties that required him to oversee the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which was responsible for safety investigations of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded, killing several and causing the worst environmental disaster in American history. In fact, Congressman Pallone’s professional negligence runs so deep that it took him over 20 years to reign in an agency that has been notoriously plagued with corruption since 1990 and as a result he is ethically culpable for both the deaths of the rig workers and the environmental damage that ravages one of our nation’s treasured coastlines.
Norman J Ornstein, writing for the American Enterprise Institute, in an article entitled, “Lack of Congressional Oversight Plagues MMS” details how both the Houston and the Denver office of the Minerals Management Service were rocked with scandal in 1990 when it was discovered that their employees had engaged in sexual trysts with prostitutes. In a New York Times article written by Charlie Savage, dated September 11, 2008, the very same agency that Pallone is Constitutionally charged with overseeing is once again hit with controversy when an investigation reveals “financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.” had occurred at the MMS. These are all instances that Frank Pallone Jr. as a leading member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee was well aware of. Pallone had a fiduciary duty to reform the MMS, but he failed to do so.
As the historical record indicates, Congressman Pallone waited for disaster and tragedy to strike before he moved to reign in the MMS. It took more than 20 years since scandal first struck the MMS and almost 90 days after the worst oil spill in US history for Pallone to show any sign of leadership on his committee. Note that on July 15th, 2010 Congressman Pallone finally issued a press release stating that he had approved legislation to “abolish the Minerals Management Service”. As a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. has maintained a great deal of power over the Oil industry and its regulating agencies long before millions of gallons of oil poured into the Gulf waters and precious lives were lost under his tenure; nonetheless, he sat idly by while lawlessness, debauchery and incompetence ran rampant throughout an agency that he himself was empowered to hold accountable. BP isn’t the only one to blame for what happened on that fateful day in April. Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. is responsible for enabling and tacitly consenting to over 20 years of lawlessness. While he’d like to point the fingers at others, the sordid trail of blood and oil starts with him.