End congressman’s gravy train

Doug LaMalfa’s been fleecing taxpayers for years, and it’s time to send him packing

The author, a longtime Oroville resident, is a retired state park ranger.

It is said that the United States Congress is populated by the wealthy, whose first priority is to do the bidding for their own kind. This appears to be the case in Congressional District 1, represented by Doug LaMalfa, whose personal wealth as of 2014 was estimated by the Center for Responsive Politics at $3.5 million, according to insidegov.com. That’s more than three times the wealth of the average member of Congress.

LaMalfa’s economic status was in part accomplished by taking advantage of taxpayer-funded farm subsidies—he circumvented the $180,000 per-year subsidy limit by splitting his ranch among family members. Interestingly, LaMalfa was the highest earner of taxpayer farm subsidies in Congress; he collected $5.3 million from 1995-2013, according to the Environmental Working Group.

One might ask, “How does this type of manipulation of federal law affect a community?” Very well, it appears. Congressman LaMalfa’s hometown of Richvale, population 244, has a median household income of $79,018 (nearly twice Butte County’s), a median property value of $254,700 (nearly $30,000 more than Butte County) and zero unemployment (Butte County has 4.8 percent). The 225 registered farm subsidy recipients in Richvale received more than $88 million in taxpayer funds from 1995-2016.

The current 2014 Farm Bill does not include language mandating that the USDA disclose whether—and in what amounts—lawmakers or cabinet members collect crop insurance payments (aka subsidies). We do know that a program for such payouts for the billion-dollar rice industry, among others, is another big government solution to a problem that does not exist.

Work on the 2018 Farm Bill is underway with LaMalfa and the U.S. Rice Producers Association lobbying against any taxpayer subsidy reductions. It is guaranteed that LaMalfa will continue to shower himself and his millionaire farm buddies with absurd taxpayer insurance subsidies as long as he remains in office. It is time for voters in this district to elect someone who will find ways to help the rest of us, not just corporate farmers.