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Brits Rain on Our Rain Forest
[an excerpt from

Street Talk: A Behind-the Scenes Look at Business Around Iowa]

Des Moines Register

February 13, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]

The London-based Economist magazine took note of Iowa's proposed rain forest, in a recent article that began with gossip about lobbyist Jack Abramoff's scandal.

"Lobbying can't be banned," the article said. "Americans have a constitutional right to 'petition the government for a redress of grievances.' And they have an awful lot of grievances. For instance, Ted Townsend, a meatpacking tycoon, is aggrieved that his home state of Iowa has no indoor rain forest."

The article noted that Townsend had contributed $3,000 to Sen. Chuck Grassley's campaign in 2003, and the following year Grassley "secured $50 million from the federal budget for Mr. Townsend's rain forest."

"There was absolutely nothing illegal about this," The Economist said.

"Such 'earmarks' are often inserted at the last moment and pass without scrutiny."

"Projects funded this way are typically those that make sense on someone else's dime."

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