At this late stage of the 2012 GOP primary there can be no question that Leonard Lance – the incumbent who represents Congressional District 7 in New Jersey – is resolved to present himself to the electorate as the “Principled Conservative” in this race. If his campaign literature and website rhetoric are to be believed, Mr. Lance is a rock-ribbed Reaganite – a stand-up conservative who doesn’t refrain from doing the right thing when duty calls in the House of Representatives.
But facts are stubborn things and if the facts regarding Mr. Lance’s legislative record are any indication, he’s done the wrong thing more often than the right thing – a fact reiterated in a recent American Conservative Union press release announcing ACU’s endorsement of David Larsen, the Movement Conservative who is challenging Lance for the GOP nomination:
The incumbent, Leonard Lance received one of the lowest ratings for a Republican in the entire congress in 2011, 44 out of 100, showing that he is clearly out of the mainstream for conservatives,” said ACU Al Cardenas, “The ACU PAC urges all conservatives in New Jersey’s 7th District to support David Larsen in the Republican Primary June 5th.”
OUCH. When the ACU says you are “clearly out of the mainstream for conservatives,” that pretty much puts the kibosh on calling yourself a “principled conservative” and still keeping a straight face.
But do the facts support this conclusion? In this series we’ll examine the the 25 votes considered by the ACU to be crucial to the conservative agenda in 2011 together with the ACU scorecard for Senators and Representatives – with a eye focused on how Leonard Lance voted on each of these pieces of legislation.
In this part we’ll examine how Mr. Lance voted on the first five pieces of legislation.
1. Legal Services Corporation. HR 1 (Roll Call 54)
The House defeated an amendment to the 2011 appropriations bill that would have struck all funding for the Legal Services Corporation from the budget bill. ACU has always opposed this wasteful program which has been used primarily to expand the welfare state and was found by a GAO study to be rife with waste, fraud and abuse and supported this amendment. The amendment failed February 16, 2011 by a vote of 171-259.
“Principled Conservative” Leonard Lance voted against defunding a federal program that the GAO itself declared to be “rife with waste, fraud and abuse.”
2. National Endowment for the Arts. HR 1 (Roll Call 68)
The House passed an amendment to the 2011 appropriations bill reducing funding for the National Endowment for the Arts by $20.6 million. This program had received major increases in funding since 2008. ACU supported this amendment to reduce wasteful spending. The amendment passed on February 17, 2011 by a vote of 217-209.
“Principled Conservative” Leonard Lance voted against reducing funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Anyone remember the NEA? It was the outfit that sponsored such uplifting and ennobling works of modern art as Andreas Serrano’s “Piss Christ.”
3. Planned Parenthood. HR 1 (Roll Call 93)
The House passed an amendment to the 2011 appropriations bill prohibiting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which offers abortion services. ACU has always opposed federal funding of abortions and therefore opposed funding of Planned Parenthood. The amendment passed on February 18, 2011 by a vote of 240-185.
While voting to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood is certainly the kind of thing a “Principled Conservative” ought to do as a matter of course, “Principled Conservative” Lance has yet to declare that he opposes abortion as the taking of innocent human life.
4. Firearm reporting requirements. HR 1 (Roll Call 115)
The House passed an amendment to the 2011 appropriations bill barring the use of funds for licensed firearm dealers to report certain types of multiple firearm purchases to the Justice Department. ACU opposes this backdoor approach to gun registration and supports this amendment. The amendment passed on February 18, 2011 by a vote of 277-149.
“Principled Conservative” Leonard Lance voted to oppose a backdoor approach to gun registration – a true act of courage, seeing as how the majority of his constituents in Hunterdon and Somerset counties own firearms and regard this as a front-burner, hot-button issue.
5. Project Labor Agreements. HR 1 (Roll Call 126)
The House defeated an amendment to the 2011 appropriations bill that would bar funds to enforce Project Labor Agreements, which force companies that seek government contracts to agree to union demands. ACU opposes these discriminatory rules and supports this amendment. The amendment failed on February 19, 2011 by a vote of 210-210. Parliamentary rules say that a motion is defeated on a tie vote.
In effect, “Principled Conservative” Leonard Lance believes that private sector companies awarded government contracts should be forced to accommodate union demands. It’s worth noting that some of the biggest PAC donors to the Lance campaign are…trade unions. Interesting.
So how does Mr. Lance rate with the ACU for these five votes? On high profile issues like abortion and gun control he shrewdly cast conservative votes. But on issues that do not immediately appear on the political radar screen, he voted with the Democrats.