In 1996 when I was the emcee of the State Democratic Convention, or when I was urged to run against Rick White for the House in 1998, or when I was urged to run against Slade Gorton for the Senate in 1999, or when over the last decade I have hosted more fund-raisers than I can recall, or when I think about the amount of money I have donated to Democrats and their causes, did I ever think I would be quoted in an article entitled – “Lawyer Bill Marler blasts Democrats over food-safety legislation” – But, I was:

jpeg.jpgSeattle lawyer Bill Marler, a huge ­ Democratic supporter, said he’s had it with them. After years of wrangling­ (not to mention foot-dragging), the U.S. Senate last week passed legislation designed to strengthen the food-safety system­ – only to have it declared pretty much dead-on-arrival. (The House passed its version of the legislation in July 2009.) …

“This is the stupidest thing,” said Marler, who specializes in food-borne illness cases. “It doesn’t make me want to dig into my pocket to help the Democrats. It’s not like I expect a return on my investment, but I expect the people I’m supporting to at least do their jobs.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Marler and his wife have contributed nearly $166,000 to federal/national candidates and party committees since 1998. He said he’s helped raised millions more for Democrats and Democratic causes.

He’s been pushing for improvements to the food safety system for years. And he’s a guy who’s knows where loopholes in the current system are. He’s represented hundreds of people who became deathly ill from food borne illness. Remember those kids who got sick and died from Jack in the Box hamburgers in 1993? He filed lawsuits for them. He’s been involved in pretty much every major food-borne illness outbreak since.

Marler’s been lobbying for this Senate bill, and its House counterpart, for nearly two years. He sent t-shirts to every senator urging them to pass food-safety legislation with his face on them and the slogan: “Put a trial lawyer out of business.” He’s flown in clients to testify before Congress. He’s testified himself.

“And they screw it up in one sentence,” he said. “From my perspective, the whole thing was handled badly.”

It’s unclear at this point whether there is the time – or inclination – to fix the bill so it can go to the president’s desk.

“If at this point the president and Democratic House and Senate leaders can not get these bills across the finish line,” Marler wrote on his blog. “Disappointment is far too mild a feeling.”

  • Sam

    Vote for republicans and get what they sold you. Vote for democrats, and get what republicans sold you.
    What will republicans do after this pathetic country is bankrupt? Blame it on liberals, of course!
    Thanks for NOTHING, Obama. I still want my vote back.

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Bill, it was too quiet on my end today, after lots of emails and blogging over the weekend. I guess we need an emergency article in the NY Times — it seems to be the only thing that lights fires.

  • I am trying everything I know to do.

  • Bill,
    Somehow I doubt the Dems will forget or snub you for very long, if at all. Even without the bill you are still an effective force for positive change, as long as you remain genuine. Without the information and case studies that you provided I might have kept my head buried about the raw milk thing and 0157:H7. Keep up the good work. Stop whining.

  • Jeff Almer

    Bill–I say rip away on the Democratic party because it is well deserved. They have a majority in the Senate (that is soon to be eroded somewhat) and yet they managed to screw up the food safety bill. The last minute Senate vote shenanigans are like leaving for work at the last minute and hoping nothing goes wrong or else you’re late. Then on the other side of the aisle you have the Republican party that manages to make food safety a partisan issue and has many “nay” votes on the recent vote. No wonder Americans are sick to death of Washington DC. Call me naive, but the vote should have had less than 10 “nay” votes. Not sure why people are so satisfied with a current system that basically trusts foreign imports or inspects high risk facilities once every ten years. Not to mention the 5000+ yearly deaths (of which my mom was one). Shame on the whole damn lot of them.

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Tim, in defense of Bill (not that he needs defending!!), you cannot even imagine how seeing the impacts of foodborne illness effecting families — it can change your life. It is extremely emotional. A severe poisoning can kill a child so quickly and it is so tragic. Bill has worked so tirelessly for law change and experienced so much emotional drains that he has every right to whine. It has been a frustrating last year with the Senate and the foodsafety advocates all did everything humanly possible to see this Bill through. For what? To have an absolute ridiculous technicality called? All of us are flabbergasted and exhausted and dissappointed. I think we have a right to whine.

  • Randy Napier

    Whine, I’ll give you whine. I have served in the Navy for this government and while my Mother(bless her heart) raised six children by herself making 0.95 cents per hour and never asked the government for help because, one she was a very proud lady, and two, she felt they needed it more than we did. Being hungry all the time and wearing clothes with holes, I didn’t understand then. Now, after lobbying 4 times in Washington DC and seeing the waste and time spent on one bill that will help ALL Americans, I understand now. We(as a people) put these people in office to work for us. What I saw for myself while I was there is Demecrat vs Republican atmosphere and the American people were not even in the picture. Whine, yes, Bill has every right to whine and so does every voter in America. As Jeff said, “Not to mention the 5000+ yearly deaths (of which my mom was one).” My Mother was one of the victoms also and YES it does affect and change your life. So I will end with the statement that every American voter has earned the right to WHINE…

  • Gabrielle,
    Foodborne illness did change my life and that of my family. Like I said stop whining, but keep working. Perhaps another angle you could pursue instead of demanding layer upon layer of laws could be to teach individual moral responsibility. The concept that we are our brothers keepers and that if we are doing something that can harm someone then it is our responsibilty, regardless of how profitable it is to us, to change what we are doing, or stop doing it competely. Perhaps it would be appropriate to teach, that we may be held accountable someday for our actions, in ways that are eternal and totally out of our control or the control of our government. Ever consider that possibility?

  • This email I sent to someone questioning my support for food safety might shed some light:
    Re S 510 or H B 2749 – neither would change the system that has been created by “capitalism subsidized” – AKA the Farm Bill with mass produced food in a mass produced culture of fast and cheap food. I think the anti-reform camp – from tea party people to you and David – wanted the “change you can believe in,” but it was not going to come from those bills. It is going to come from a fundamental shift in population, eating habits, energy cost, politics and money. Neither of these bills were intended to do that. That is another long-term battle, that IMHO has been made very difficult because natural friends – small farmers and consumer groups became enemies in this battle. The idea behind both bills would have been to give the FDA more resources to inspect facilities and for CDC to track more illnesses – yes, more inspectors, inspecting under the egg rule (which too 20 years to implement) would have prevented Wright County. And, more coordination from the CDC with State Health Departments would have caught that outbreak earlier, leading to fewer illnesses. To think these bills were a plot by Monsanto to consolidate more power to squash small farmers – especially raw milk farmers – is absurd.
    Bottom line, I was all about trying to knock down illness and death caused by mass production. You guys were all about trying to protect the perceived threat to a utopian view of food production in an America of 300,000,000 and a world population of nearly 7,000,000,000. Frankly, these bills would have been a good first step. Businesses like Wright County are chuckling at you and Glenn Beck.

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Hi Tim. Eternal retribution? Absolutely believe in. Karma while you are here on earth? Yes. S. Parnell is getting his now. However, he should be in jail. So there is a loophole that we can and should fix, as a society. I believe there are plenty of Churches in America that teach these other concepts/morals. Our wonderful judicial system was built upon both Houses doing their job and legislating and the Supreme Courts deciding precidence which become law. Again this brings justice to the earth in the now and present and these two bodies are supposed to teach and guide us, as a society on law. This is about law. Moral teachings are better left to Churches and families. As a society, we have come to rely on the laws to help keep us safe. S. 510 is a law that thousands of us across America know to be needed. Making sure a innocuous peanutbutter cracker is safe to eat, is not only the moral and legal responsibility of the food manufacturer, but also the U.S. government.

  • Tim Lukens

    Greetings Gabrielle,
    Great name by the way. Fits well what you’re doing, announcing a need. So what came first moral teaching or the law? And how can a culture have one and exclude the other? In regards to law based on precident, true it is now. However with a simple swing in majority of the supreme court and the right case, we’ve got a new precident. I don’t view that possibility as very secure, regardless of political persuasion.

  • Think about it….by the House passing this legislation, you (Marler) potentially will make less money, and thus will be less able to make generous donations to those voting on the bill. I think they are trying to keep you, and ultimately themselves, in the ‘green’.

  • Geeez, I guess they are a lot smarter than I thought.