Congress certainly has a soft spot for turkeys, wild turkeys to be exact. The 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Act (H.R. 2744) doled out $234,000 for the National Wild Turkey Foundation (NWTF) in Edgefield, South Carolina, a grassroots, nonprofit organization with more than 500,000 members in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and 14 other foreign countries.
Founded in 1973, the NWTF supports "scientific wildlife management on public, private, and corporate lands as well as wild turkey hunting as a traditional North American sport. There are now close to 7 million wild turkeys and nearly 3 million turkey hunters. Turkey hunting has become the fastest growing form of hunting and has the second highest number of participants of any type of hunting."
According to USDA testimony, "The project builds on the Federation’s longstanding public education program that reaches approximately 250,000 citizens annually. The project goal, to be accomplished by targeting nontraditional audiences, is to increase participation by these groups in outdoor activities, including, hunting, and thereby contributing to a more healthy lifestyle for the individuals."
Since 1985, more than 224 million NWTF and cooperator dollars have been spent on these goals. With 500,000 members, the organization could raise an additional million dollars just by charging members an extra $2.00 each. One has to wonder why Congress felt the need to feed the NWTF thousands of federal tax dollars, including $469,000 in 2005 and $238,000 in 2004.
The problem is that the Washington insiders conveniently forget that the money they so recklessly dispense is not their own. It is time for taxpayers across America to demand the respect they are due. Unfortunately for the political machine down in Washington, there is no time like the present.
Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee voted in favor of spending tax dollars on the National Wild Turkey Foundation (Senate Roll Call Vote #282) November 3, 2005.