Protesters Challenge O'Malley on Factory Farms
photos via @MattOhloff (Iowa-based organizer for Food and Water Watch)
June 21, 2014-When Gov. Martin O'Malley made his appearance at the Iowa Democratic Party State Convention at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines, Iowa, a small group of protesters from Food & Water Watch and Iowa CCI Action Fund protested outside. 
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reprinted July 2014 from:
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Governor O’Malley’s Corporate Ties

Friend of Corporations, Factory Farms, and Fracking

It’s no secret that corporate lobbyists wield immense power over our decision makers. For a great example of just how this dynamic works, just look at how Governor Martin O’Malley has governed Maryland and the Democratic Party.

Big Chicken O’Malley

For years, Food & Water Watch has been working to unravel the close ties between the chicken industry — chief among them, the corporate giant Perdue, Inc. — and Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley. In 2012, we released emails obtained from a Public Information Act request showing an ultra-cozy relationship between Gov. O’Malley and Perdue lobbyist (and old O’Malley law school buddy) Herb Frerichs.

Back in November 2011, the Governor released a letter he wrote to the University of Maryland environmental law clinic, denouncing the merits of the ongoing litigation by local environmentalists against Perdue and essentially calling on students to represent polluters instead of nonprofits trying to protect the Bay. On the day that letter went public, the governor received a pat on the back from Frerichs in a stand-alone email that simply said, “Very nice.” Earlier that month, when Frerichs complained about O’Malley’s secretary of agriculture, Buddy Hance, compared to the agency’s counterparts in Delaware and Virginia, O’Malley responded: “I’m guessing you don’t have the personal email of governors of DE or VA, so let me know when Buddy can/should be doing more to help you push stuff. I’m serious. I’ll have him call you monday [sic].”

It was no surprise, then, that as soon as the Poultry Fair Share Act — a bill that would require the poultry industry to pay into a fund for Chesapeake Bay cleanup, just like Maryland citizens do — was introduced into the Maryland legislature earlier this year, O’Malley promptly came out and said he’d veto it. Nor was it surprising to see that around the time Governor O’Malley became head of the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA), Perdue began shifting its political giving from the Republican Governor’s Association to the DGA, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland produces over a billion pounds of chicken manure a year. This excess manure, and the massive amounts of pollution that pour off of it, is one of the primary reasons why the Chesapeake Bay has been on a downward spiral for the past three decades. The influence that Perdue has over Governor O’Malley is helping to ensure that the company will continue to operate business as usual — and that the Bay will continue to deteriorate, thanks to factory farms.

Fracking: Governor O’Malley Fails to Protect Maryland from Fracking

Another issue where Governor O’Malley is failing the environment and communities is fracking. The Governor has failed to stop Maryland from becoming the next Pennsylvania, and rules to establish fracking in the state are expected anytime. He’s also failed to support the community of Cove Point, Md. in their own fight to stop a dangerous liquefied natural gas export facility from being built in their backyard—which would send fracked gas to markets abroad where it can fetch the highest price. The DGA raked in over $3.5 million in contributions from the oil and gas industry between 2008-2012. 

New Deal, or Business as Usual?

Governor O’Malley’s latest venture is an organization called NewDeal, a “newly launched national network searching the country for state and local elected leaders who are pro-growth progressives to help them share their innovative ideas.”

But according to VICE, the effort is secretly funded by the American Natural Gas Association, Wal-Mart, and some of the biggest corporations around. Like ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which uses its influence to promote policies favored by it’s corporate-backed funders (like ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers), the NewDeal appears to be a new vehicle for influencing democratic leaders. It’s not surprising that Governor O’Malley is at the helm of the latest attempt by seemingly “progressive” politicians to take advantage of the rich resources corporations have at hand to influence decision making.

O'Malley was elected chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council on Dec. 12, 2013, and has done a lot of work on the health of the Chesapeake Bay, including BayStat.