Horse News

A Berman By Any Other Name

By Nell Walton ~ Founder/Editor of The AllHorses Post

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.

Other groups who have been the focus of CCF attacks include such dangerous radicals as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and various teachers unions.

WY Rep. Sue "Slaugtherhouse" Wallis and Dave Duquette ~ Photo courtesy of Dave Duquette's Public Facebook page

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.

WY Rep. Sue "Slaughterhouse" Wallis ~ photo courtesy of Wallis' public Facebook page

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.

26 replies »

    • All non-profits have to keep open books. Write to them and ask for specific information and they have to, by law,show it to you. They may charge you for printed copies to cover their costs for printing, but they are required to give you informaiton.

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  1. Oh for gosh sakes. If those are “hippy” horses I’ll eat my hat. Was this shot in the winter when we all have (gasp) mud? If those idiots would quit over breedfing, there wouldn’t be crowded conditions in any rescue. Numbnuts!

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  2. Oh oh, thank you RT for having the endurance to get dirty digging behind these psuedo animal rights organizations. I will be passing this around to all my friends who did believe this group of crazies.

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    • Arlene, this is Nell Walton’s piece and she really does great work, doesn’t she. Nell is “Slaughterhouse” Sue and the Duke of Doink’s worse nightmare…because she exposes them for being the corrupt idiots that they are.

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  3. Thanks RT – but I don’t know how much of a nightmare I am to them. They just say IT’S ALL LIES….and I guess ther figure if they say it enough it will make it true.

    Also – Rick Berman’s nickname is really “Dr. Evil” and he even has a little Dr. Evil doll (from the Austin Powers movie) on his desk in his office. He’s Evil and Proud Of It!. And, lives in a $3.3 million mansion in toney McLean, VA (of which he paid $2 million down on) and also has to make the hard decision every morning whether to drive the Bentley or the Ferrari across the river into DC to go to work. Poor man.

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  4. Excellent piece, Nell! I wonder if Rick Berman really secretly loves being affiliated with Slaughterhouse Sue and Dave Doink? Wouldn’t it be great to be a fly on the wall of his McLean mansion when they all get together and plan how they’ll attack the “animal huggers” out to oppress them? I don’t want to know what they have for hors dourvres but can you just imagine the two evil hayseeds gone uptown? They must feel like they’ve really hit the big time, hanging in a place like that! Or maybe NYC born and bred Berman is really a closet evil hayseed wannabe so he picks real bumpkins with very real evil twists to hang with. Birds of a feather…..

    Very interesting bio, this Rick Berman (Richard) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Berman ….unbelievable the number of good organizations he tries to smear with his “work”, even alienating his own family in the process.

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  5. Thanks for this article. It is amazing how many true horse lovers have been swayed by Humanewatch’s SLAM campaign against HSUS. Just look at postings on many of the blogs and you will see the telltale comment “Why isn’t HSUS involved blah blah blah?”
    Unfortunately many believe the propaganda of Berman and his minions. Reminds me of how AQHA got a few horse loving folk to spout their propaganda–a few very vocal ones in the so called wild horse community too!

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  6. Thank you for posting this. I cannot believe how many staunch advocates have fallen for this propaganda campaign against the HSUS. And, I for one, am tired of their baseless criticisms, many who post on this blog regularly slamming the work of the HSUS. I think one even thinks the HSUS won’t do anything to help wild horses because they make too much money selling PZP. How ludicrous.

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  7. HumaneWatch is a great example of using lies and spin to deceive well meaning people.

    Were I a matchmaker, I would definitely put Dr. Evil Berman and Slaughterhouse Sue together. Truly they are meant for each other.

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  8. There are always going to be people in this world who want to protect at all cost, their profits and way of life (i.e. big ag, tobacco, etc) and they will always find the necessary amoral individuals that are perpetually driven by greed and self-love…all it takes is money; nothing more, nothing less.

    I would venture to guess that Mr. Berman is neither spiritual or religious.

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  9. I have issues with HSUS. But the stuff humanewatch comes up with and the meat lovers battalion continue to post (actually, they are the same worn-out, tired lies) are simply not true.

    That troll is most definitely overpaid…what a waste. Why doesn’t he or humanewatch ever get sued?

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  10. Humanewatch is being sued, and reported to the IRS. They just spin it into the huge evil “vegan” conspiracy coming after “the little guy” who is trying to do the right thing. Berman keeps his 501(c)(4) books squeaky clean, so the IRS has never been able to touch the CCF or any of its affiliates. Just because you’re evil, doesn’t mean you’re stupid. And, recently, his son, David Berman, who is a musician that is in the indy band “Silver Jews” finally admitted that Rick Berman is his father and he is completely estranged from him, and has condemned the way he makes a living. And, I guess Rick Berman is OK with that. Berman is truly a spiritual bankrupt.

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    • Thanks Nell.

      I’m sure Mr. Berman is smart AND amoral to boot….just like Bernie Madoff and the other crooks that know how to always stay one step ahead of the regulators and taxman. It is not all that hard to do really. But that doesn’t mean that they are truthers or right; usually it is quite the contrary.

      He may keep his books squeaky clean, but my question would be…”Where are the other, second, REAL set of books, Mr. Berman?” He’ll get had…eventually.

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  11. On the UHF Facebook page, Mr. Duquette has taken issue with my article, and says, since we have never spoken then that makes me a liar. I would try to get my head around the logic of that, but, being that is an exercise in futility, I will go on about getting on with the 9 million things I have to get done today.

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    • This is why he is dubbed the “Duke of Doink”…he now uses that as his handle, here. That’s the sound you hear when a common sense phrase hits his head and bounces off…”DOINK”

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  12. Read the wiki link re: Richard Berman….when faced with opposing facts or truths, Berman spins by alleging that the opposition is lying or fabricating…the Duke of Doink is following the meater’s roadmap/tactical handbook.

    It get’s better. Go to this link and read a quote by David Berman, son of Dr. Evil and see what son has to say about father:

    http://pitchfork.com/news/34455-silver-jews-david-berman-calls-it-quits/

    The orginal forum post on “Drag City” (recording label) is no longer available (what a surprise. I’d post here, but the language would ban the quote. YIKES!!!!!

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    • I’ll grant that children and parents go after each other, but WOW!!!….”human molester”!?!? I mean, this is more than just the run of the mill parent v. offspring adversarial relationship.

      I thought to myself, too bad we can’t read the post in it’s entirety.

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  13. If anyone ever failed to fully appreciate the importance of the First Amendment in our country, he or she should be following this story. If I hadn’t been curious about mustangs (one of the few horse breeds I’d never seen), I would never have gone to a local BLM auction here in NC. There I met up with a rescue league director and wild horse lover, and she encouraged me to volunter. Because I volunteered at a rescue barn, I began to learn about mustangs. If I hadn’t been in CA last December where I picked up newspapers in San Francisco and LA with articles about WH protests scheduled for Senator Feinsteins offices and started following this story, I wouldn’t know a thing about any of this. I would be just as uninformed as anyone else.

    This is all about the horses, but its about so much more. I know that HSUS does a lot of good, but I have heard and read some of the same commets you refer to. Thank you for educating me so I can reconcile these contraditions.

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  14. This is so sick, what a bad joke!! This is a classic case of good fighting pure evil! Wherever there is good & right being done, there are those who will oppose & fight against it!! They will try very hard to lie, distort the truth, make things up, & brainwash unwary or gullible, unsuspecting people. This may be a tough “fight” on behalf of America’s horses, but we must continue to be their voice, their advocates, their loyal friends. In doing so, the TRUTH & JUSTICE, &, GOOD will win out over this evil darkness. Those people will have to live with themselves, & face their reflections in their mirrors, for life! Any organization, or person, with power, clout or money, like the HSUS for example, or even a famous celebrity, is going to be under scrutiny & in the spotlight. I personally, have great support & respect for the HSUS, & all the good things they do, I think those who question them, are afraid of them, what they stand for, & their power to act on behalf of animals everywhere!!

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