In his days as a private citizen, Butler was a trial lawyer in Mississippi who spent a good chunk of his time suing poultry processors, with some, but limited, success. Now he’s in charge of writing the rules under which he will operate when he returns to the private sector. That alone doesn’t pass the smell test. According to Beef Magazine (yes, there is such a thing), Butler, while serving as GIPSA administrator, said the following about the new regulations he was drafting:
“When you have a term like ‘unfair, unreasonable or undue prejudice,’ that’s a plaintiff lawyer’s dream. We can get in front of a jury with that. We won’t get thrown out on what we call summary judgment because that’s a jury question.”
What does it sound like he’s most interested in serving, the public good or his profession and himself when he returns to it?
This isn’t the fox guarding the hen house; this is signing the deed of the hen house over to the fox. The conflict of interest alone should’ve been enough to keep Butler from getting the job, but that’s not how this game works. Someone as high profile as Elizabeth Warren can’t fly under the public’s radar, which is why a backdoor way was found to empower her, but Butler’s office is so obscure that he could just walk in the front and set up shop.
Whether or not J. Dudley Butler is implementing rules that will help him and his friends in their legal cases is something for time to judge. But the fact that he is in a position to do so, to aid his cause and line his pockets when he returns to the private sector, is enough to call for his resignation. The incoming Republican Congress should also look into this case and root out any others. Trust in government is a delicate balance of faith in and the integrity of those honored to serve. When there is such a clear conflict of interest and opportunity for future personal gain, that balance is irreparably out of whack. That is why J. Dudley Butler, and any other bureaucrat in a position to enrich himself, has to go.
Derek Hunter is a Washington based writer and consultant. He can be stalked on Twitter @derekahunter