Feature: Wednesday, August 6, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Wheezy Street

Joe Barton’s got you by the lungs

By Wendy Lyons Sunshine

The Ryan household resembles a pharmacy. “They take a puff of their Advair inhalers every morning and night,” said Annie Ryan of Arlington. “It’s an asthma maintenance drug. Singulair once a day, it’s also asthma medication. Their emergency drug is Maxair, and sometimes they have to be put on Zopenex — that’s when they’re really having a hard time breathing.” A few times each year the doctor adds Prelone, a heavy-hitting steroid, to the mix.

The medication is for Ryan’s husband, Jack, and their two children. Jack, who works in Fort Worth, doesn’t take his own as often as he should, because it makes his hands tremble and interferes with his work (The Ryans’ names are fictitious; Annie spoke on condition that her family’s names not be used.) “One of the side effects is it can make you hyper and shake,” Annie Ryan said. “It makes my kids hyper, which affects them in school. They get in trouble because they’re having a hard time sitting still.”

Despite their energy and love of sports, the children often have to make do with indoor activities, to minimize exposure to sickening air. Summertime is worst of all.

At age six, her older child was sent to summer camp for the first time. Ryan felt he was really too young to be away from home, but he was having too much trouble breathing here. “We were in the doctor’s office once or twice a week for his asthma during the summer. That’s why we decided he needed to go,” she said. This past July, when the now 9-year-old was at camp in Kerrville, he had no asthma attacks at all. “They don’t have the ozone problems there like we have here,” Ryan explained.

The rest of the family, at home in Arlington, didn’t fare as well. Her husband and 7-year-old daughter both had to take emergency medications. The family suffers from coughing asthma, which inflicts dry hacking instead of wheezing. “It’s hard to watch your child coughing so hard that they’re throwing everything up. Even if they have taken pills, their stomach hurts, their chest hurts, they’re up in the middle of the night, they can’t sleep. They have to stay inside to play on the orange and red ozone days,” said Ryan. “That’s really hard for a child. It breaks a mom’s heart.”

So she wrote to her congressman, Joe Barton, urging him to help clean up local air pollution sources, like the industrial plants in Midlothian whose toxic plumes travel regularly into Tarrant County. She knew that smokestacks in Midlothian — right in the middle of Ellis County and Joe Barton territory — send tons of government-protected pollution northwest into Tarrant County (“Greetings from Toxic Town,” Dec. 5, 2002). The reply she got from Barton’s office outraged her. “It said he’s in charge and he was doing everything he could to make life better,” scoffed Ryan. “That letter was a slap in the face. If you’re in charge, then why in hell aren’t you doing anything about it?

According to a 2003 report from the American Lung Association, Tarrant County air is dirtier than that in all but 18 other counties in the country, and Dallas County ranks 12th. Both earn a grade of “F” in the report, which shows that during the past five years, Dallas’ air quality has not improved overall, and Tarrant’s has actually worsened — going from an average ozone score of nearly 18 to a current score of 24. During that same time frame, Ellis County’s score jumped from 5 to almost 13.

Annie Ryan is among a growing number of voters in the Sixth District of Texas who are angry about local air pollution and angry about their congressman’s lackluster response to it. They say that at every legislative turn, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton has worked to block, delay, and weaken air pollution laws that would benefit public health. They’re particularly riled because, as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, Barton is uniquely positioned to influence national legislation and improve air quality. In short, while Barton talks a good game, he has shown himself to be one of dirty industry’s best friends.

To many, Barton’s foot-dragging and double-speak are no coincidence, because so much of his campaign financing comes directly from the same utilities around the country that his committee is charged with regulating.

During a half-hour phone interview with Fort Worth Weekly from his office in Washington, Barton said that humility has helped him succeed and endure for 19 years in Congress. “You have to really, really stay humble and listen to what the people want and try to communicate their needs and wishes into legislative action, or at least being a part of the legislative process in Washington,” he said.

Katy Hubener, executive director of the Blue Skies Alliance, an educational and advocacy group seeking clean air for North Texas, has another view. “What keeps him in Congress is his ability to take money from big polluters,” she said.

As the Congressional map is drawn today, Texas’ Sixth District carves across Tarrant, Ellis, Navarro, Hill, and Johnson counties. It pokes north of Interstate 20, sweeps east through Midlothian past Corsicana, presses south almost to Waco, and extends west of Cleburne. Not far from the center of it all is Ennis, the flat little town where Republican Joe Barton has lived since he began representing this district in 1984.

Back when he first got elected, photos showed a brown-haired, clean-cut fellow in aviator glasses looking alert and eager-eyed. Today, at age 53, Barton has shed the glasses and looks every bit the sophisticated, silver-haired career politician. During his interview with the Weekly, he was alternately congenial, defensive, flattering, and condescending.

“My views are very consistent with the Republican Party platform at the state and federal level,” said Barton, who has introduced legislation on issues ranging from financial privacy to medical devices. He’s known for loyalty to his party and allies. When the son of a staff member stood trial this past May on charges of stalking, kidnapping, and rape, Barton went down to Waxahachie to testify as a character witness. According to the Associated Press, Barton said he had no objection to the staffer in his campaign office using the fax machine there to send paperwork to his son’s defense attorney. (Joseph Wesley Bouldin eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated sexual assault in exchange for dropping the other charges and received a 5-year prison sentence.)

When Barton and his wife Janet were divorced eight months ago, she kept a condo in College Station and some bank accounts. He kept title to their modest brick house on Williamsburg Drive in Ennis, another condo in College Station, and a Virginia home close to Washington, D.C. The veteran congressman also held onto 3,500 shares of Enron stock, which at its peak would have been worth $315,000 but now hovers above $100 in value.

In February 2002, Business Week magazine wrote that “Barton has long been friendly to energy companies. And as head of the House energy and air quality subcommittee, he was in perfect position last year to help Enron Corp. in its quest to open state electricity markets to competition.” Barton didn’t dispute this. But he did deny that he allowed Enron to tell him what to do. Barton told Business Week he had once scolded a too-pushy Enron executive: “I told him he could run his company the way he wanted and I would run my subcommittee the way I wanted.”

Approximately one-quarter of Barton’s 2000 and 2002 election funds came from oil, gas, and electric utilities, according to the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition of Texas. And while other House members averaged $61,155 in campaign donations from the energy sector during these election cycles, Joe Barton received $472,323 — nearly eight times as much.

Enron in particular supported Barton in style, back before the company’s stock tanked. From 1997 through 2000, Barton’s campaign fund received $9,000 from Enron’s political action committee and executives. Business Week cited $28,909 flowing from Enron to Barton since 1989.

A visit to the Federal Election Commission web site confirms that the Ennis politician’s fortunes are closely aligned with the power and electric companies — the biggest producers of air pollution nationwide. TXU’s political action committee and CEO have given $10,000 to Barton’s campaign since 2001. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, with locations from Houston to Algeria, added $11,500 during the same period. In 2000, an industry advocacy group based in Washington, DC, the Edison Electric Institute, paid $4,674.20 to the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, California, on the Congressman’s behalf. In 2001 alone, Pennsylvania Power & Light, an East Coast coal company, sprang for $14,000.

What motivates profit-driven energy companies from around the country to donate to a congressional campaign in Texas?

“I receive campaign contributions from all over the country because I’m a United States representative,” said Barton. “Obviously, I represent, specifically, the Sixth District of Texas. I’m a senior member of the majority party. I’m a sub-committee chairman of an important sub-committee, the Energy and Air Quality Sub-Committee. And I am a national leader on a number of conservative causes like balancing the budget, and I’m one of the authors of the most comprehensive energy legislation that has certainly passed the House in the last 30 or 40 years.

“So there’s a lot of folks out in the country who support my values and my vision for the country and some of the things I do in the Congress. Almost any senior member of Congress is gonna receive campaign contributions from a wide variety of political action committees and individuals. And I’m no different than anybody else.”

“That’s true,” said Hubener of Blue Skies, acknowledging that politicians of all stripes get campaign contributions from special interest groups. “But it appears that when Mr. Barton takes a campaign contribution, he writes a law or rider or amendment that benefits the contributor. For example, with Kansas-based Westar Energy Company, Barton introduced a rider to the bill that would exempt them from federal oversight. Then when this company came under investigation, he withdrew support for it.”

Earlier this year, Westar Energy, the largest electric utility in Kansas, made national news. According to reports by the Washington Post and AP Newswire, Westar’s former management had plotted to split up the company in a way that would bring top executives millions of dollars each. At the same time they would transfer $3 billion of debt to the utility company, which would then recoup the debt through rate hikes to customers. Crucial to this split, however, was getting a special exemption from the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA).

Internal memos and e-mails that surfaced during a fraud investigation showed Westar working closely with members of Congress to smooth the way for the crucial exemption. Most remarkable were the clear and detailed plans for Westar executives and lobbyists to make payments totaling $56,000 to various Congressional campaigns. Joe Barton’s name appears in these documents.

In 2001, the House passed an energy bill, HR 4, which was fairly broad but did not address either electricity deregulation or the PUHCA exemption. About that same time, Joe Barton’s campaign received $2,000 from Richard Bornemann, a Westar lobbyist. By December, Barton had introduced HR 3406, an electricity deregulation bill with a section affecting PUHCA-regulated utilities. When other House representatives and the SEC Commissioner voiced concerns about the PUHCA section, Barton replied that the “provision in the bill was put in for a company or companies in the Midwest.” HR 3406, however, never made it out of subcommittee.

In May of the following year, Westar vice president Douglas Lake explained to his colleagues in an internal e-mail that, “We have a plan for participation to get a seat at the table. ... the total of the package will be $31,500 in hard money (individual) and $25,000 in soft money (corporate). Right now, we have $11,500 in immediate needs for a group of candidates associated with Tom Delay, Billy Tauzin, Joe Barton and Senator Richard Shelby.” During that same month, Westar delivered $25,000 to Tom DeLay’s “Texans for a Republican Majority” fund-raising organization.

When a joint conference committee began working out differences between HR 4 and the Senate energy bill, Barton inserted the Westar-friendly PUHCA exemption into the joint bill. Democrats objected, but it stayed in, on a party-line vote. About this time, Westar executives made contributions to Barton’s campaign.

At the end of September, when the Kansas utility announced it was under grand jury investigation for fraud, House Republicans took barely a week to withdraw the proffered PUHCA exemption. (A chronology of the Westar events is posted on the Public Citizen web site, www.citizen.org.)

Barton told the Weekly that there was “never anything nefarious or underhanded” about the exemption that would have benefited Westar. “This provision was in the draft House energy bill for well over a year and was publicly reviewed and there were people for it and people against it,” said Barton. “When I offered it as the House position [in the joint House-Senate energy conference],” said Barton, “there was an amendment to strike the Westar provision. And I defeated that offer to strike, to delete it.”

Why then, after defending the Westar exemption so vigorously, did he allow its removal shortly thereafter? Barton’s explanation was generic. “When we finally got to the Senate conference, the people that opposed it were convincing enough that it didn’t need to be in the bill, so we took it out,” he said, not mentioning the fraud investigation.

The only irregularity in the process, the congressman said, was that the bill he presented in conference as the House position had never actually been “marked up.” In other words, it had not been reviewed and voted on in an open session. Barton admitted, “Normally that would have happened.”

“Barton unilaterally inserted this language without a committee ever having reviewed it,” said Tyson Slocum of the watchdog group Public Citizen. “Barton has not fully explained why he was so willing to circumvent the democratic process to provide special treatment to this corrupt company.

“We know that Westar attempted to bribe — the memos make that crystal clear. They say that ‘We are giving this money in exchange for getting an exemption.’” Slocum pointed out that wording in Barton’s failed HR 3406 would have applied to Westar and other companies, but that the exemption inserted during the joint conference committee applied only to Westar.

Barton has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in accepting the Westar funds.

“The Department of Justice needs to investigate whether Joe Barton accepted a bribe in return for inserting this exemption,” said Slocum. “It stinks, it looks bad, but we don’t know that he did it in return for this money until we have a full investigation — until we have law enforcement personnel start issuing subpoenas and seizing documents and questioning staff.”

“Air pollution is one of the major community health problems facing the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I feel that doctors have an obligation to speak out where serious health concerns affect their patients,” said Dr. Mark Brown, an ear, nose, and throat specialist who is past president of the Arlington Medical Society. “In the 11 years that I’ve been practicing here,” said Brown, “the number of allergy-driven sinus problems has remained steady, while the number of air-quality-driven sinus problems and asthma has dramatically increased.” He puts the increase at 200 percent. According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, last year Texas ranked second in the nation in the number of smoggy days experienced.

Brown has patients who can predict — better than the weatherman, he says — which days will be red ozone days, just by the severity of their sinus headaches. “In the summer, wind patterns bring in the particulate pollution from Midlothian,” he said. “We tend to see more problems in the summer when pollution levels are higher from ozone, although there’s a steady baseline problem of particulate pollution in the Metroplex.” Particulates are the microscopic bits of soot and hazardous compounds that make skies hazy and contribute to respiratory and other illnesses.

Irene Austin, clinical coordinator for pulmonary rehabilitation at Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, said that on bad pollution days her chronic patients work twice, sometimes three times as hard, just trying to breathe. “They feel like somebody’s sitting on their chest and they’re not able to move. They’re more comfortable if they can stay indoors, but it decreases their quality of life.”

“There’s no cure for asthma or emphysema,” said Austin, a registered respiratory therapist. “It isn’t like a cold; it isn’t going to go away.”

The American Lung Association calculates that nearly 1.5 million people in Tarrant County are at risk for asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. One of the thousands of North Texas asthma sufferers is Barton’s 32-year-old son.

“It’s not uncommon to find a lot of younger children who’ve not been diagnosed with asthma but, if they are being evaluated, to find they’re actually mild to moderate asthmatics,” said Sam Adamie, environmental specialist in the Tarrant County environmental health department. He says that even healthy people can have reactions to air pollution without being aware of it. “There’s not any one specific symptom you can associate with it. It can be coughs, upper respiratory irritation, shortness of breath, and nasal irritation,” said Adamie. “In clinical trials they have found that there is reduced lung function even in healthy people who are exposed.”

Adamie also pointed out a government report illustrating the high economic impact of asthma. Between absenteeism at schools and work, emergency room visits, medication and related costs, in 1998 alone asthma cost the state of Texas $763 million.

“It would be much less expensive in the long run to clean up the air than it would be to treat the diseases caused by air pollution,” said Dr. Brown. “You and I, individually, are paying for it, through our insurance premiums. It’s costing each and every person who lives in this area more money than they could possibly imagine through increased insurance premiums and health care expenditures.”

“Poor air quality is known to increase the risk for cancer, heart disease, lung disease, as well as non-life threatening illnesses such as sinusitis,” he said. This in turn shortens life expectancy. “I would argue that the injury from being outdoors in Dallas/Fort Worth in the summer is exponentially greater than the risk of contracting West Nile virus and dying from it,” he said. But while there’s no cure for West Nile virus, said the doctor, “We have the solution and know what it will take to clean up the air. We just aren’t doing it.”

Barton presents himself publicly as being concerned about environmental health problems. He promotes “Asthma Awareness” day and this year sponsored a bill that would give funding preference to states (such as Texas) that allow children to carry their asthma medication at school. On his web site, Barton writes, “I am a strong supporter of making our air cleaner, and want to ensure that our children have even better air quality.”

The congressman will even acknowledge the link between air quality and the disease. “Well, obviously, if you’re an asthmatic, depending on how severe your condition is, to the extent you have a pollution problem, it makes it more difficult for you to be outside,” he said. “It can cause congestion and a need to use your inhaler medication. It’s a problem.”

Barton was among 166 House members who co-sponsored sweeping legislation that eventually became part of the 1990 Clean Air Act. But more recently, when Barton had opportunities to curb air pollution, he has dropped the ball. In 1997 he co-sponsored a moratorium on tougher standards for ozone and fine particulate pollution, which would have delayed enforcement of the EPA’s latest air quality standards. In 2000, he voted to forbid the EPA from telling the public when and where smog standards were violated. That survived on the rider to an appropriations bill, which passed.

Last year Barton co-sponsored the Clear Skies Act of 2002 to amend the Clean Air Act. This bill, backed by the Bush administration, proposes broad pollution-credit trading programs that would exempt industries from current regulatory classifications. Environmental groups call it “Bush’s Dirty Air” bill.

Congressman Barton described it heartily to the Weekly as “taking an existing statute and improving it.” He said Clear Skies sets up an umbrella, or comprehensive approach, to pollution, which would reduce key pollutants by two-thirds from current levels by the year 2018. “It does not reduce in any way any of the existing standards,” said Barton. “I’m not saying we’re gonna pass the Clear Skies initiative, because the environmental groups oppose it, which is kind of ironic.”

“Clear Skies is basically a farce,” said Slocum, research director of the energy program at Public Citizen. “The bill is doing away with strict standards and instead is setting voluntary pollution targets for electric companies like TXU.” By allowing companies to swap pollution “credits,” the act could turn some communities into pollution sinkholes at the discretion of local industry managers.

John L. Kirkwood, president of the American Lung Association, criticized Clear Skies. “The plan will not reduce power plant emissions enough to clean the air or protect the nation’s health,” he said. “In fact, timely enforcement of the current Clean Air Act will provide greater pollution reductions sooner than the administration’s bill.”

Environmentalists — and even North Texas leaders charged with implementing the Clean Air Act — are frustrated by delays that Barton has tucked into proposed legislation. “If we stay on track with the current Clean Air Act, we would meet pollution standards, depending on the pollutant, at the latest by 2012,” said the Blue Sky Alliance’s Hubener. “Clear Skies could extend it up to 2025.” That’s another whole generation of school children who would be stuck with lousy air.

Asked about the slower timetable, Barton responded, “Well, I was one of the folks that pushed the Clean Air Act amendments in 1991, and put several specific things in that bill. That bill had a 20-year timeframe in many cases. It’s a very complicated, very complex piece of legislation. It had a lot of overlapping jurisdictions and a lot of complicated timetables. And quite frankly, a lot of the deadlines in that act had not been met by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“If Clear Skies were to become law, I think you would see noticeable improvement, and would see it with less red tape and less litigation, which I think would be a good thing for the economy and for the air quality.”

“It’s a case of false advertising by the White House that Joe is repeating,” said Frank O’Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust. “Clear Skies eliminates numerous safeguards in the Clean Air Act that protect public health.” Companies would no longer have to upgrade pollution controls when they increase emissions, nor would they have to use the cleanest possible technology in new plants. “The big polluting industries are all in favor of the bill,” he said. “What does that tell you about it? They know they can pollute more under the bill than they can under the current Clean Air Act, that’s why the industries all support it.”

One key provision in Clear Skies, for example, does away with mercury pollution reductions that had been scheduled to go into effect in 2007. It would replace them over a longer period of time with less aggressive standards. The lax mercury provision is seen as industry-friendly, since coal combustion, waste incineration, and cement kilns — like the Midlothian plants that are upwind from Tarrant County — are the biggest producers of this harmful toxin. The fine print that says if cleanup gets too costly down the road, companies won’t have to do it. Unfortunately, Texas has the dubious honor of emitting more mercury annually than any other state in the nation, according to a recent EPA report.

A few weeks ago, in late July, Barton held a hearing about relaxing a portion of the Clean Air Act that dictates how quickly and aggressively cities must clean up their air. A few communities have argued that they shouldn’t be required to take anti-pollution steps outlined by the act if they receive some “transported” air pollution from a neighboring area. For example, Beaumont has argued that since it receives pollutants from Houston, about 80 miles away, the problem is out of its hands and it shouldn’t have to take immediate or substantial steps to clean their air. Four U.S. appellate courts around the country have already ruled against this approach, based on current law.

North Texas officials responsible for meeting air quality goals are among those opposing the Barton-supported rollbacks in pollution enforcement. Collin County Judge Ron Harris, co-chair of the North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee, sent a letter to the transport hearing, arguing against the proposed changes. “We are making progress toward attainment of the National Clean Air Standard,” he wrote. “At this juncture, it would be better left to local partnerships to work and not change the rules again.”

American Lung Association consultant A. Blakeman Early said, “The transport hearing was essentially a set-up for a legislative amendment to overturn the court decisions.” With 175 million Americans now living in areas that violate EPA standards for air pollution, Early said, the country needs to be making more, not less, progress. “We’re very concerned that Mr. Barton is moving legislation in the wrong direction.”

Ramon Alvarez, a scientist for Environmental Defense Fund, said that at the hearing, Barton, the subcommittee chair, and U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin, who heads the full Energy and Commerce Committee, supported the proposed change. “It’s their prerogative to change the Clean Air Act,” said Alvarez. “The question is whether the change is good for public health or not, and it’s clearly not.” He testified that, “A lifetime of asthma is a high price to exact from our children for failing to reduce ozone to safer levels.”

At the July 22 transport hearing, Congressman Barton suggested that another attendee — David Baron, the attorney for Earthjustice who filed and won the four court cases reinforcing cities’ responsibility for meeting air standards — thought he was above the law. “I was astonished at these claims,” said Baron. “The courts have unanimously said we were right. If anybody was acting above the law, it was the EPA ignoring the clean air statutes.”

“I obviously disagree very strongly with the position Congressman Barton is taking on this issue,” said the attorney. “All these communities have extraordinary local pollution sources. Beaumont is not on an island and getting all their pollution from somewhere else. How is it that Texas is powerless to control pollution from one Texas city to another? It’s an indefensible position, when the whole state is governed by one environmental agency.”

Baron, who has been doing clean air work for 20 years, believes the proposal is just a pretext to justify weaker pollution controls for industry. And the implications are staggering. If the legislation prevails, a precedent would be set and more and more cities could halt their clean air progress. “It’s a sad, sad situation when you have political leaders pushing for rollbacks in public health protection,” he said.

Barton said he is supportive of incentives for companies that retrofit old, dirty plants with state-of-the-art anti-pollution devices. But he couldn’t point to any tangible legislation along those lines. “We’re considering offering an amendment to the energy bill that would provide direct grants to the old power plants to go in and replace the entire plant with new coal-gasification technology,” he said.

When would he actually introduce that amendment? “I’ve tried. I’ve been circulating it at the member level and in the interest group level for really over a year now. If the Senate passes the energy bill, it’s something we’re going to bring up in the conference,” said Barton. “The reason it hasn’t gotten more support than I think it deserves is that some of the industrial groups are afraid that if they support this grant approach that it might be a trade-off with some of the existing tax credits,” he said. “They view it as ‘a bird in the hand may be worth two in the bush.’”

The Clean Air Trust’s O’Donnell wasn’t persuaded. “He wrote the bill, he chaired the subcommittee that passed the energy bill. If it was a good idea, why didn’t put it in then? I don’t know what specific conversations he’s had with members, but he certainly had ample opportunity earlier to promote it if that’s what he wanted to do.”

The July 9, 2001, Dallas Morning News quoted Barton as stating that he wanted tougher fuel economy standards for gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles. Better mileage standards mean less money out of drivers’ pockets at the fuel pump, less dependency on oil, and less tailpipe emissions creating ozone pollution. But Barton stalled out. “Less than a month later, Barton voted against setting tougher fuel economy standards for SUVs,” said O’Donnell, referring to Barton’s “no” vote on an amendment that would have required the gas mileage on light trucks to be boosted to an average of 27.5 mpg by 2007, saving 1 million barrels of oil per day.

“We thought Barton would be a hero, but instead he was a real zero on it,” said Hubener.

The League of Conservation Voters scores congressional voting records, with higher rankings going to votes that benefit environmental health and safety protection. In 2002, the league awarded Joe Barton zero percent out of a possible 100 percent. From 1997 through 2002, his overall score was 4.25 percent.

Dr. Brown isn’t a believer in big government. But he says, “Making sure that we have adequate and safe air and water supplies is one of the true legitimate functions of government. I have no ability to breathe the air other than what is around me. I feel that your right to pollute ends at my nose.”

Brown has daily discussions with patients in his clinic about the culprit behind their illness. “My recommendation to them is to make this a primary issue at the voting booth,” he said. “When enough people decide air quality is going to be their number one determinant of a candidate, then they will overcome the influence of industry lobbyists.”

Annie Ryan put it more simply: “If Joe Barton would get his act together, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

In his interview with the Weekly, Barton answered a series of questions about his record on campaign contributions and air quality legislation. Then he offered a final bit of wisdom: “Put in the story that I love children and dogs.”


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