Group Names Property Rights Champions

Published May 1, 2004

The League of Private Property Voters (LPPV) has named 192 U.S. Representatives and 35 U.S. Senators “Champions” for property rights issues.

The group especially applauded Democratic Representatives Rodney Alexander (Louisiana), Chris John (Louisiana), Collin Peterson (Minnesota), and Charles Stenholm (Texas) for joining a majority of Republicans in the Champions category.

LPPV also identified Representatives Jim Leach (Iowa) and Christopher Shays (Connecticut) as the only two Republicans to earn its “Enemies of Property Rights” label. In total, 165 Enemies were identified in the House and 35 in the Senate.

The complete list of Champions and Enemies appears in LPPV’s 15th Annual Private Property Congressional Vote Index. The index helps voters identify legislators who have acted to protect the property interests of private citizens against what LPPV describes as a powerful and often intrusive federal government.

The votes on which legislators’ performance was judged were selected after discussions with two dozen leaders of the national Wise Use movement. The votes represent 2003’s most important opportunities for legislators to demonstrate their support for protecting the constitutional rights of property owners against federal intrusion. They also show support for recreational access on federal lands, upon which many rural communities depend.

Federal legislators who achieved a score of 80 percent or higher were praised as Champions of Property Rights. Legislators who failed to score 20 percent or better were identified as Enemies of Property Rights.

High Praise

LPPV singled out for special praise legislators who have been working hard on two separate issues of great interest to rural Americans.

LPPV applauded “The Terrific Twenty-Seven” congressmen who are working to keep private property owners on equal footing with well-funded activist groups seeking to buy up rural property and keep local residents out.

“Congressmen Wally Herger (R-California) and Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico) teamed up last year to lead the charge for private property rights at a critical moment,” notes the LPPV Index. “The Nature Conservancy and other powerful Land Trusts attempted to grab a billion dollar tax cut deal for themselves late in 2003. This would have placed them at a huge advantage over private property owners in buying and selling real estate. …

“Herger, a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, joined with freshman Pearce and rounded up 25 other members to sign [a letter opposing the deal]. The special Land Trust provision was stripped out of the bill in the House, but is still alive in the Senate as of February 2004.”

LPPV also singled out for praise “The Fabulous Forty” congressmen who are attempting to scale back unreasonably strict interpretation and enforcement of wetlands legislation.

“Congressmen Richard Pombo (R-California) and Charles Stenholm (D-Texas) joined forces to send a letter with 39 others to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card,” explains the Index. “Pombo is Chairman of the Resources Committee and Stenholm is the top ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee. The letter supports reasonable wetlands regulations and enforcement of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. United States Army Corps of Engineers–the SWANCC decision.”

LPPV is a coalition of more than 600 grassroots organizations that advocate the rights of property owners, including farmers, ranchers, residents of rural communities, and citizens residing near federally owned lands.

Brian Kennedy, spokesman for the House Resources Committee, commended LPPV as “the voice of America’s real environmental stewards– our farmers, ranchers, and private property owners.”

Said Kennedy, “These are the folks who live on the land, make their living off the land, and have hands-on roles in conservation every day.”

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News. His email address is [email protected].

For more information …

The complete text of the League of Private Property Voters’ 2003 Private Property Congressional Vote Index is available through PolicyBot™. Point your Web browser to, click on the PolicyBot™ button, and search for document #14733.

For more information on property rights issues, visit The Heartland Institute’s Environment issue suite at and click on the topic Environment-Private Property topic. Or visit the Web site of the American Land Rights Association at