Who is Sue Wallis and Why Should I Care?
The statement in the headline was made to a reporter from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in late April of this year, by Wyoming State Representative Sue Wallis of Recluse, WY.
On March 9, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal signed into law a bill that enables the Wyoming Livestock Board to send stray, unwanted or feral horses to slaughter. Prior to this legislation, the Board could only send such horses to public sale. This bill (http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2010/Enroll/HB0122.pdf), was introduced into the Wyoming House on February 11, 2010 by Rep. Sue Wallis, and was signed into law less than 30 days later.
Upon review, many parts of the bill are quite troublesome (even aside from the fact that horse slaughter is an extremely controversial issue in the US). In the section in regards to the due diligence required for a Board inspector to determine ownership of an “estray” horse, the horse “cannot be held for more than 10 days” before being sent to slaughter. Under this language, an inspector could make the decision in 1 hour that the horse was a stray or feral and make the arrangements to have the horse sent to the slaughter facility. Additionally, it states that “the board shall provide meat from estrays disposed of by slaughter….to Wyoming state institutions or to nonprofit organizations……” meaning among other things prisons, schools and state run health facilities.
Even more troublesome is the fact that Rep. Wallis is also the Executive Director of the United Organizations of the Horse (UOH), which is diligently working towards the development of a horse slaughter plant in Wyoming. The UOH website states that it is a “mutual benefit nonprofit organized primarily to work in the political arena and is registered in Wyoming” (i.e. a lobbying group). The Wyoming Secretary of State’s records show that the UOH was incorporated in November of 2009. According to a press release on April 24, 2010, the UOH is also negotiating to take over ownership of the Cheyenne Stockyards facility which currently belongs to the Wyoming Livestock Board. Plans are to turn it into an “intake and rejuvenation” facility for stray, feral or otherwise unwanted horses, where they can be evaluated for usefulness, health, and other criteria (i.e. adherence to federal regulation in regards to slaughter). If a horse fails this triage, it will be sent to the UOH slaughter facility.
So, we have the following scenario:
- Rep. Wallis is a Wyoming elected state representative
- Rep. Wallis is also the executive director of a lobbying group, whose purpose is to promote horse slaughter in the State of Wyoming
- Rep. Wallis was also the sponsor of a Wyoming HB 122, which enables the Wyoming Livestock Board to send stray or feral horses to slaughter
- Rep. Wallis’ bill HB 122 was brought to session and signed into law in less than 30 days time, with little to no time for public comment, according to the records
Under Wyoming legislative ethics law (W.S. 9-13-106), very clear distinctions are made as to conflicts of interest for state legislators, and, states that any legislator “…shall not make an official decision…if the <legislator> has a personal or private interest in the matter….” So how was it that Rep. Wallis was allowed to sponsor and lobby to get a bill passed within the Wyoming House in about 3 weeks, when there was such a clear conflict of interest?
Also, under “Organizational Structure,” on the UOH’s web page it lists two other affiliated corporations: 1) The United Horsemen’s Front, which categorizes itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charitable organization and 2) Unified Equine LLC – “a Wyoming limited liability company under which all humane horse processing and related businesses are operated.”
However, Unified Equine, LLC does not stand up to scrutiny. The Wyoming Secretary of State currently does not have a Unified Equine, LLC listed as either an active or inactive corporation in the State of Wyoming, and it would be of interest to see if such an organization has or will have Rep. Wallis as a paid employee. The United Horseman’s Front is listed at http://www.guidestar.org as a nonprofit corporation under category “Animal related / (Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs))” as a 501(c)(3) charitable group established in 2009. It’s President is Dave Duquette, owner of Duquette Quarter Horses in Hermiston, OR.
……… Mr. Duquette and his organization will be further addressed in tomorrow’s edition.