You may have read recently about a bill that would set limits for withdrawals of water from Lake Erie. The Ohio Environmental Council explains well why it’s a bad piece of policy, but in short, HB 231 allows massive, unregulated withdrawals of water by industry from the shallowest of the Great Lakes.

The bill has been so rushed and is so problematic to the integrity of the eight-state agreement known as the Great Lakes Compact (whose primary goal was to preempt against diversions of Great Lakes water to other states and countries), that former GOP governors Taft and Voinovich took the rare step of making public their opposition to the bill, with Taft actually testifying in committee. Editorials ran in newspapers around the state, with the Plain Dealer suggesting that lawmakers supporting the bill “would prefer to transform Lake Erie into a resource to be plundered for profit.”

Unfortunately these urgings fell on deaf ears as Republicans passed the bill along party lines saying that the unregulated withdrawals were necessary for “job creation,” sending it to the Governor, whose signature it now awaits.

So why would the GOP put the Lake and eight-state compact at risk, all in the name of increased profits? And whose profits, anyway?

The interesting answer can be found on House of Representatives’ website. HB 231 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Lynn Wachtmann. On his House bio, Wachtmann reveals that when he is not introducing unconstitutional abortion bans he is employed as the President of Maumee Valley Bottling, Inc. and serves on the board of the International Bottled Water Association. Now why on earth would the bottled water industry care about unregulated daily withdrawals of millions of gallons of water from the Great Lakes?

The self-dealing and conflict of interest here is so blatant, it’s a complete mystery why it’s not getting coverage from the media. Frankly, it’s not clear how this is even legal. Employees of the executive branch are subject to an Ohio ethics law that requires them to immediately recuse themselves of any involvement in decisions that may directly benefit their outside business interests, or those of family members. But apparently, in the Ohio House, you can write legislation to enrich yourself and your industry and get dozens of your fellow legislators to help you out. And we expect, within days, all with the Governor’s signature. This isn’t even the first time Watchmann has introduced legislation from which he would personally stand to profit.

Well done, Ohio republicans. These days, your corruption knows no limits.

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  • stryx

    This issue has been driving me crazy. Why doesn’t every story about Wachtmann include the words “the President of Maumee Valley Bottling, Inc. and serves on the board of the International Bottled Water Association.”? Yet I haven’t ever seen them  in the Dispatch.

    This isn’t a really complicated story. And if it weren’t for Kasich driving the bus all over the citizens of Ohio this would have been a major issue.

    One of the guys who opposes this (Taft) nearly went to jail over some rounds of golf. Yet Wachtmann can ram this through despite clear conflict of interest problems and no one seems to care.

    I don’t see how Ohio doesn’t get sued by the other states in the Compact, and possibly the Feds too. And Ontario.

  • Anonymous

    So much to say, so little time to say it.   Next to Kasich, Wachtmann is the one person you would want to make into a voodoo doll if you are into that stuff.  He is a boil on the posterior of Ohio, a barnyard savage who lives to take advantage of his fellow citizens, a leach and an embarrassment to Henry County.  He has no formal education (diplomas from Napoleon High and Four County Joint Vocational School) beyond High School, but presumes to know what is best for the state’s educational system.  In addition to being the water boy for his area, he is president of every local organization he belongs to which begs the question: would he join if he can’t be top dog?  Probably not since he clearly believes that he is the only one who has anything to say.  If you have ever seen him in action you know he is the kind of guy you would not invite into your home. 
    If you think your state representative sucks (and 59 of them DO), you only have to look at Wachtmann to know that things could be worse (I don’t even live in his district and I can see that).  The only good thing about him is that some day he will tug on the wrong snakes tail and we will be done with him.
    By the way, have I told you how much I don’t like the man?

  • Adrienne

    Radical R’s pick our pockets again to profit. Profit before people is their real motto.

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