Who is Sue Wallis and Why Should I Care? Part IV in a Series
For the past couple of years now, various provocative and inflammatory “info-ads” have appeared in the New York Times,on Facebook, on bus shelters and billboards accusing the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) of misuse of funds (including the funding of “terrorists”), of lying about giving financial help to local humane societies and animal welfare efforts, and manipulating Congress to promote its “vegan” agenda.
These ads are supposedly bought and paid for by a group called Humanewatch, whose mission is “keeping a watchful eye on the Humane Society of the United States.” However, when you pull back the covers to take a closer look at Humanewatch’s affiliations, a much different picture emerges of who is actually bankrolling these campaigns.
The website, http://www.humanewatch.org, is essentially written and managed by one man, David Martosko, a spokesman for the Washington lobbying group, The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). The head of the CCF, millionaire lobbyist Rick Berman, founded the Guest Choice Network (GCN – precursor of the CCF), 15 years ago, and during this time has also created several other affiliated nonprofits with innocuous names similar to Humanewatch. The CCF is funded by various special interest groups, including restaurant chains whose costs could rise if living conditions for animals have to be improved and alcoholic beverage and tobacco companies (in 1996, the GCN got its original startup funding from a $600,000 grant from tobacco giant Philip Morris, who at the time was looking for a way to fight the movement to have separate smoking areas in restaurants). By the clever use of a nonprofit organization’s legal ability to provide donors with complete anonymity, Mr. Berman’s groups offer the veritable golden goose for special interests – a Teflon front they can hide behind so the American public never knows who is exactly behind these attacks. The nonprofit status gives them the sheen of legitimacy, and their attacks on other nonprofits (usually public and animal welfare groups) can be convincing to those who don’t know the background and history of the CCF.
Sue Wallis, State Representative from Wyoming, and the Chairman of her Political Action Committee (PAC), David Duquette frequently quote “statistics” and “facts” from http://www.humanewatch.org in their arguments for building a horse slaughter facility in the Wyoming, often referring to the HSUS’s ”vegan” agenda. Rep. Wallis wears many hats in Wyoming, as does Mr. Duquette. Rep. Wallis is not only a Wyoming state representative, but also the chairman of the lobbying group United Organizations of the Horse (UOH), whose main goal is to open the slaughter facility in Wyoming. Mr. Duquette is not only the chair of the UOH’s PAC, but also the head of the UOH’s affiliate, the United Horseman’s Front (UHF), a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity whose mission is to “to rejuvenate starving and neglected horses; as well as provide a comprehensive program of evaluation, training, and retraining of abandoned and donated horses with potential.”
For example, on May 25, Duquette posted a status on the UHF’s page that stated “Ok I know I have been promising More for quite some time, that time is finally here. Please read through all of this. This could be one of the most important and telling bits of info you will see as horse people. Spread it far and wide.” And, he goes on to refer to an “undercover” video shot at the Duchess Equine Sanctuary in Oregon (Duchess Sanctuary is funded by the HSUS), that shows healthy horses standing in a muddy pasture, with a few large sticks scattered about. Most of them look like they have just eaten and are drowsy. Curiously, the when one views the video at http://humanewatch.org/index.php/site/post/they_warehouse_horses_dont_they/ you find the following:
Earlier this month, I solicited comments about this video from a few noted horsemen and an equine veterinarian. Here’s what they said:
...”HSUS’s whole byline on the Duchess Sanctuary is that it will be a model for livestock management. As a life-long horseman, I can say that they need a new manager. The hazards and lack of management this video shows are rain rot, scratches, hoof problems and puncture wounds from fallen trees, among other injuries, due to limbs laying like pixie sticks with too many horses in a small feedlot-type area. This is not a model situation for the care of horses. I wonder what the Canadian donors of the money to run this ranch will say when they see this video. I’m sure this is not what they had in mind.
—Dave Duquette, Executive Director of the United Horsemen’s Front”
Mr. Duquette’s eyesight must be exceptional, if he can tell all this from this particular video.
On April 15, Duquette again referred to Humanewatch on facebook “HumaneWatch: So I got 327 of my 1062 friends that weren’t fans of HumaneWatch to join last night, I just sent another request. Send a request to all your friends. We need to show that there is STRONG support against the animal rights movements.” And, on March 4, “Go here to find out what other Corporate sponsors HSUS doesn’t want us spammers to know.Hmmm? Corporate sponsors usually like advertisement of the sponsorships. So what value do they get out of the whole cloaking for protection. Sounds alot like HSUS policy to me..”
Not surprisingly, the UOH also makes numerous references to Humanewatch also, when they quote statistics and post “undercover” videos.
Wallis and Duquette have come under harsh criticism for making provocative and unsubstantiated claims as to horse overpopulation and suffering as an excuse for the building of a horse slaughter facility in Wyoming. They routinely refer to statistics that cannot be verified or even located, except, of course, when they refer to Humanewatch.
In most promotional materials and advertisements distributed by Humanewatch, as well as by the CCF, they ALSO routinely refer to statistics and facts in regards to the HSUS that are unverifiable.
Rep. Wallis is not only the Executive Director of the nonprofit UOH, she is also the Executive Director of the Cowboy State Free Press, a nonprofit news website that was formed with a $74,000 startup grant from the extremely conservative Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity in Bismarck, ND. The site focuses on coverage of state government and says its mission is to “seek the facts and report them.” Neither the Cowboy State Free Press nor the Franklin Center disclose the donors that fund their work, which according to Wallis, is completely appropriate because “These are private people who are trying to do things with their personal treasure that they feel will make this a better country and I don’t think it’s anybody’s business, quite frankly, and I respect that.” (quote taken from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/14/politics/main6395687.shtml )
Rick Berman must be proud.