Republican Congressman Elton Gallegly, the conservative representative for California’s 24th Congressional District (encompassing most of Ventura County as well as inland Santa Barbara County), was once again presented with the annual Spirit of Enterprise Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The award reflects his support of pro-growth legislation during the second session of the 110th Congress. In a prepared statement, Tom Donohue, Chamber president and CEO, explained that Gallegly was chosen to receive the award due to his being an “effective ally to the business community, supporting legislation that helps grow the economy and creates new jobs for hardworking Americans.” Gallegly’s website further highlights his strong ties to the business community, revealing that the Congressman was a “successful business man and real estate broker” before he embarked on his 21-year incumbency. Perhaps to demonstrate solidarity between former and current real estate brokers, the National Association of Realtors even donated $10,000 to his 2006 reelection campaign. Fellow contributors to Gallegly’s campaign included Exxon Mobile, Genentech, Time Warner, Sempra Energy, the National Franchisee Association, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and Edison International.
The Spirit of Enterprise Award is given each April to members of Congress based on their votes for legislation specified in the Chamber’s yearly publication, How They Voted. Gallegly earned himself an 89% score with the Chamber last year by throwing his support behind 89% of the Chamber’s priorities. Among the legislation he did not support, but the Chamber did, was a bill appropriating funds to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. That bill, HR 3043, included a clause restricting the use of child labor in foreign countries, but Gallegly could not be reached to explain his “no” vote.
It is not unusual for Gallegly to align himself with the Chamber: Gallegly’s record reveals that he almost always supports its legislation, with an all-around, cumulative 93% ranking during his tenure in Congress. All senators and House members who support at least 70% of the Chamber’s favored legislation in a given year are rewarded with a Spirit of Enterprise Award. Some of the initiatives Gallegly supported last year were a trade promotion agreement with Peru, an extension of the federal backstop for terrorism risk insurance, revisions to the rules governing direct foreign investment, and “critical water resources” legislation to facilitate commerce at the nation’s waterways and ports. He also supported the eight-month extension of the Andean Trade Preference Act, which was originally enacted in 1991 to combat drug production and trafficking in the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Gallegly has been successful over the years in obtaining federal funds to aid citrus and nursery growers, though his primary focus has been the illegal immigration issue. He was actually voted into the Top 10 list of Illegal Immigration Hawks in 2006 by Human Events Magazine, and he proposed a total of 11 anti-illegal-immigrant bills in 2007 alone. He lists among his achievements his induction into the U.S. Border Patrol Hall of Fame.