Digging Deeper


GOP 'carnivore' urges no vote on 'ag-gag' laws

Is Lee Atwater rolling over in his grave? The late GOP guerrilla campaigner’s  lieutenant, Mary Matalin, is helping PETA fight “ag-gag” laws.

As Politico reported a couple weeks ago, Matalin, a self-proclaimed carnivore, taped a video for the animal-rights organization urging lawmakers in the many states considering the “farm protection” bills to vote against them.

“You may be wondering what a meat-eating conservative Republican like me is doing in a PETA video,” she says. “I’m here because I want animals on farms to be treated in accordance with the law.”

It’s striking that such a high-profile Republican would assist a group that is much-maligned in farm country on an issue that is typically being championed by GOP lawmakers.

Ag-gag bills, which criminalize the work of whistleblowers and other undercover exposes of animal abuse gathered in large production facilities, are a trend in many state legislatures. In 2013, ten states have witnessed such bills, according the Humane Society, including Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wyoming, and Vermont.  

Never one to mince words, Matalin tells lawmakers that they should listen to their constituents and not the agribusiness interests often pushing these laws. People of all political persuasions are coming together to support law enforcement efforts to protect animals, she says, adding that “factory farms” are simply blaming the messenger.

“More of us should recognize that people have really started to think about what they eat and where it comes from,” Matalin says.

Matalin’s work attracted the interest of the Animal Ag Alliance, an organization of commodity groups, drug companies and feeders. According to the “Missouri Ruralist,” the group has invited Matalin to its May meeting which will focus on the ag-gag issue.

"We hope that Ms. Matalin will take this opportunity to engage with actual farmers, ranchers and the organizations that represent the animal agriculture industry," said Kay Johnson Smith, the alliance’s president and CEO.

No word on if Matalin will accept the invitation, but that’s one meeting I’d love to cover.