Horse News

Salazar’s Ties to Wild Horse Slaughter Buyer Questioned

By of the Colorado Observer

All but 36 of Davis’ 1,777 purchases coincide with Salazar’s tenure as DOI Secretary

Scott Coffina, a former White House ethics adviser, said any Salazar (above) involvement with the federal sale of wild horses would raise a red flag for investigators

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ken Salazar’s relationship with a Colorado man who worked for his family’s farm and who is under federal investigation for allegedly selling American wild horses to Mexican slaughter houses came under scrutiny this week.

Tommy D. Davis, a livestock  hauler from La Jara and former independent contractor at the Salazar family farm in nearby Manassa, has been the largest single purchaser of wild horses from the federal government since 2009.

All but 36 of Davis’ 1,777 purchases coincide with Salazar’s tenure as Interior secretary, now in its fourth year.

Scott Coffina, a former White House ethics adviser, said Salazar’s involvement if any with the federal sale of wild horses to Davis would raise a red flag for investigators.

“Did he have knowledge of any sales to Davis at all? … Did the fact that he had a previous relationship with Davis affect the decision? … Did Davis get favorable terms or a better deal?” Coffina said in an interview.

When a government official was asked if Salazar signed off on sales to Davis, the official indicated he had not done so.

“Sale approval is done entirely at the level of the Bureau of Land Management wild-horse program — not the Department of the Interior,” the official wrote. The Bureau of Land Management is part of the Interior department, but the official’s statement suggests that BLM officials had no contact with officials in Secretary Salazar’s office.

Coffina said that unless new information about Salazar’s ties to Davis emerged, federal officials are unlikely to examine their relationship or request that Salazar recuse himself from the the Interior department’s internal investigation of Davis’ sales of the animals.

“The fact that he worked for him — Salazar said it was once or twice — I don’t think there’s any recusal required for that … I don’t see the relationship between Davis and Salazar is close enough in terms of benefit to Davis. It’s not clear how long ago he worked on the farm. Salazar has been in D.C. since 2004,” Coffina said, referring to Salazar’s election as a U.S. Senator.

Blake Androff, a Salazar spokesman, noted that the inspector general of the Interior department launched an investigation of Davis’ sales in June. “The Interior department takes the allegations against Mr. Davis very seriously,” he said, “and we look forward to the results of that inquiry. Anybody that is found to have violated the law should be held accountable.”

Davis did not respond to a voice mail left at his home. He told the online publication Pro Publica that “has done quite a bit of trucking” for Salazar, while Salazar’s brother LeRoy told The Observer last week that Davis worked as an independent contractor for the Salazar family farm once or twice.

Salazar said through a department spokesman he has “no recollection of Tom Davis and to his knowledge, has never had any business dealings with him.”

Although Salazar has not said he knew Davis, his relationship if any with his neighbor could emerge as a flashpoint for federal investigators. Coffina said if investigators present evidence that Davis sold the wild horses to slaughter houses, Salazar may need to recuse himself.

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38 replies »

  1. Per your suggestion this was posted at the Observer…

    Humph…let’s see where to begin? 1. The selling of wild horses for slaughter is a crime therefore this must or should be handled as a criminal investigation not an ‘inquiry’. 2. Where else but in our morally defunct government would a criminal investigation be undertaken by fellow employees of the accused? 3. As to Mr. Salazar not ‘signing off’ on the sale…would you put your name on a document that could prove your guilt? 4. Mr. Salazar says he has no knowledge of Tom Davis or having any business dealings with him yet when questioned in Colorado Springs on election day you could see his facial expression change the moment Tom Davis’ name was mentioned. His ire went up leading to the eventual threat of violence against the reporter. Should he have been so angry as to embarrass the United States by exhibiting such embittered behavior?

    We all know that in the past few years the rounding up of our iconic wild horses and burros has increased dramatically. You’ll even note in his response to the reporter that there a big concern about wild horses on the public domain. During his tenure as Secretary our wild horses and burros have suffered repeatedly the undeniable traumas of helicopter roundups, the separation of families, endured countless injuries and even death.

    Now the real problem created by the Bureau of Land Management…they continue to gather wild horses and burros to make room for more livestock, oil and gas pipeline permits not to mention mining so where are they going to put them?

    They have near 50,000 in captivity now, more than double that living on the open range, and they continue to gather more and more. So are they planning on enacting the Burn’s Amendment? Are we going to stand by while Ken Salazar writes out the death sentence for 50,000 wild animals?

    He is a dark black blemish on the face of the United States and needs to be in jail if not for selling wild horses to Tom Davis then for criminal animal abuse.


  2. Hang him high. I certainly hope that this gets National Press. I haven’t heard much about it form the papers or the news services. This could certainly put the slaughter of our wild horses on the front line where they belong. If Salazar is in some way involved; and then better yet indicted, The President will have to take off the blinders and look at the big picture. Hopefully this will be an opening for him to make an issue of horse slaughter. I personally love Obama; and have voted for him twice; but in this issue I am sorely disappointed in his non involvement. Having to oust Salazar could be an important wake up call to him and the rest of the nation who continue to use ostrich logic by hiding their heads in the sand and pretending nothing is happening to those horses.


  3. I have to whole heartedly agree w/the comments above…destroying the horses and burros is not management …and the people, regardless of who they are, who violate that trust should be held accountable…………yesterday. If John Q. Public was to do this………the full force of the law would be brought to bear….Where is it written that these men via their “connections ” should be exempt?


  4. Well said, Steve, and bless you! However, until someone higher in power cares enough to do something or even care, Salazar will continue to bulldoze our wild horses to extinction and certain death. We can rant on and on, but my saddened and tired heart says nothing will change unless someone with authority over Salazar stops him. If memory serves me correctly, WE have that authority, but it’s futile against evil like him.


    • I do not believe our’s is a futile endeavor. We have a voice we just need to speak up. On one FB page we simply ask that everyone calls the White House comment line everyday (202-456-1111) and post that they have done so…look at the miserable response. Look, you don’t have to worry, the POTUS won’t answer the phone… a very nice volunteer will gladly listen to you tell them you would like the President to fire Ken Salazar and replace him with Raul Grijalva of Arizona. We ask that articles and blogs be posted on Congressional FB pages and emails be sent to Congressional Representatives but there are only a precious hand full that actually do this very simple task.

      What we have are a lot of people who are simply cheerleaders for those of us trying to make a difference yet when it comes down to it they might actually sign a petition but make a phone call? Would they be willing to call a BLM office and ask questions and make suggestions, or would they post something on a news organization’s website or social media page?

      I hate to say it but pressing the ‘like’ button on FB doesn’t do a damn thing. It’s pressing the buttons on your phone that help…

      Yes we have the voice…but we all have to speak up then DO SOMETHING!


      • Quite profoundly said. I have called the White House many, many times, and always spoke with a very polite person who writes down every word. I’m certainly not quitting, I’m just tired of seemingly being the only one in my circle of friends and neighborhood who is willing to push the buttons on their phones.


      • Steve, there is a base of advocates who are not posting on FB and are not letting us down. They continue to make calls and send emails. Most people do not know your group exists. Many people read and say nothing but they do act for the wild ones. We call them the ‘backbone’ of the campaign. They are still with us! People at FB are very cliquish and they do not know you.

        We need legislation regardless of how scary it might be to begin that again. We need to do it right. If we are to advance we need to be organized. Only the Cloud Foundation is well known.

        It is true people need to do more and stop waiting for miracles. But we need organization and people committed to honesty. We have some very colorful liars out there who have been tweaking the campaign now for years.

        There are answers to be had and developed if people are serious and support each other. I see people afraid to go beyond what they think and feel. There is a larger picture. I keep hoping that one day the conversation here will blossom but I see too much fear and hesitancy still. Maybe that is what you are talking about, ultimately, Steve, People are afraid to follow anyone. And if we do not show we can work together, those of us who comment here and other places, then we don’t deserve to have any followers.

        There is too much dependence on a slim thread. Not enough base beneath our feet and not enough gumption to act in new directions.

        Stop putting off the real work, folks. We have said and heard all of this before. It is time to do more and act for the wild ones with certainty and direction. Don’t you know where you want all this to go???? Then start filling in the dots and get there.


      • I wish POTUS would just once answer the phone line. I would donate small amounts to his campaign in order to be entered into the contest to have dinner with him and 4 others. Even had a packet all set to go. Drat, wasn’t selected. Steve a lot of people do call but just don’t post about it. I have the WH on speed dial and I always mean to go back and post that I called but don’t get around to it. Some days they have stated that they have had quite a few horse calls even on those days that aren’t pushed as special call in days. People are working they just don’t let others know all the time.


  5. A 5 star general mandated to safeguard our freedom quit over love, while a cattleman mandated to protect the very living symbol of that freedom kills it. No quitting isn’t an option. A trial is in order.


  6. This whole thing really ticks me off for a few reasons: 1. I have adopted a lot of wild horses over the past 20 years and I have NEVER gotten a horse for $10 and always instead pay the $125 adoption fee, 2. I have never had more than 4 untitled Mustangs on my premises at a time (as per BLM rules and regs), 3. I follow ALL the rules the BLM has which includes certain height of fences, providing shelter even though not even 1 shelter can be found at the Palomino Valley adoption facility, allowing for inspections anytime the BLM cares to come to my place, etc 4. I pay for a vet or brand inspector to come out to sign off on getting Title to the horses I have maintained for a year……..and the list of what I as a law abiding citizen goes on and on where I’m actually treated like someone who has to be watched like a hawk even though I have never done ANYTHING wrong in relation to adopting Mustangs from the BLM!
    I HAVE to do all of this stuff even though I would NEVER dream of shipping a horse to slaughter (and I just conducted a big rescue where we were able to get 86 horses into private party homes by doing it one horse at a time– it took 5 weeks — , and I worked WITH the killbuyer to get it done… or Quarter Horse Rescue and/or The Starlight Sanctuary on Facebook for more information on this rescue), I actually train the horses and find them excellent adoptive homes after I receive Title to get the word out to people that Mustangs ARE awesome horses when handled properly, and my husband and I take in the Mustangs from what we call “adoptions gone bad” whereby people gain Title after a year and then either give the horse away to whomever shows up with a stock trailer at their property (usually horse traders/kill buyers) because they couldn’t train them and/or they haul them to the local kill sale where I rescue them and bring them back to our sanctuary.
    It’s disgusting and criminal that Tom Davis gets away with obviously shipping horses to slaughter, making a boatload of money in the process, and he HAD to have help or the blessing of SOMEONE in the Dept of the Interior who O.K.ed the whole scam and I think we ALL KNOW who that someone is.
    Its a sad state of affairs when common criminals like Tom Davis with the help of higher up’s in the Dept of the Interior get away with murder (literally) of thousands of wild horses, when law abiding, experienced horse people like me are scrutinized, held to certain standards even though we have a pristine history of adoption, and we actually rescue wild horses from going to slaughter after inexperienced people toss them away at the kill sales and/or to horse traders and kill buyers…..

    We cannot allow this investigation to die off without it going to completion and exposing ALL of the criminals in on this deadly scam because this is too huge to be swept under the rug and the American public needs to know what is being done to our wild horses and burros right under their noses just for the sake of eradication so factions can and will entirely take over all of our public land once the wild horses and burros are all gone; THEN no one will be allowed to use the public land unless we pay admission fees, or we will be cited and/or arrested for tresspassing on OUR OWN land that we pay taxes on……..and by the way, we will all still be forced to pay subsidies to PRIVATE businesses to continue to run their businesses at a big profit, but will have no more wild horses and burros living on the land and/or will no longer be able to recreate on OUR public land; pretty much a lose/lose situation for the public AND the wild horses and burros.


    • The day we may not be allowed on public lands nears. We need to write legislation and ask for everything we want. Then we have to stand behind it and get it through the gauntlet. Push for the best investigation possible to be rid of Salazar but stop falling short of getting real change because you are afraid to act. This is just another smoke screen and Davis is another fall guy. Please do not forget the ranges are losing their equine inhabitants and the herds are becoming too small to continue and they will all be picked off for that same manufactured reason.

      Keep your eyes on the horses folks.


  7. Agree, Steve.
    And let’s not stop there … the Washington DC branch who get paid big bucks to “investigate” potential buyers and then sign the sale authority and the state WH&B employees and the district managers field office managers and the holding facility managers and the bookkeepers… they knew and thus were accessories to the crimes … not to mention that any or all of them could have reported the ongoing illegal activities anonymously as a whistle-blower … but none did, did they?


    • I agree grandmagregg…the investigation has to be thorough and include the entire ladder from bottom to top. I’ve dealt with a couple of BLM field reps who have been willing to tell me certain things for me to report yet won’t do it themselves…I think the whistle-blower rule of anonymity may be in question. I recently was dealing with a field manager who said if he found out what I was telling him about the ‘Thomas Davis Affair’ was true he’d be out the door. His emails now come back as an inactive account so it’s possible to say he found out from his inside sources it was true and left his position. It’s also possible to say he was fired for asking questions!


      • I do hope people will remember we have roundups happening and that we have made a dent there so do not forget that the HMAs need our support at all times! Check the schedule and find the comment periods for ‘gathers’ and keep after the removal machine.

        Keep talking to BLM. They are just folks. It is the suits that need the investigation. Other people employed in districts are facing the loss of their jobs as the removals continue for trumped up reasons attached to policy.


  8. Sally Spencer knows who was behind Tom Davis as do the people who work at the Canon City facility..I know from my conversations with them at the time..that their reverence was not for some low class no account horseflesh dealer..they assured me..that this person was above reproach and DEFINATELY NOT a slaughter buyer because I told them my concerns that using wild horses for AG defferals on property, to avoid paying property taxes was not logical or possible..and that since the first slaughter summit was about to take place and Abbey was going to speak there that no one was going to buy that scenerio and it would result in an KNEW..I have to say they were feeling “untouchable” to continue to pursue I can’t say they knew that Salazar was involved in the slaughter end..but they certainly knew who was behind the sales of the adobe towns..Since we are so fond of waterboarding..I suggest we start waterboarding all those BLM invoved until someone breaks


  9. The BLM does not operate separately from the DOI-they are an agency within the DOI..DOI being the head of the snake


  10. Thank you, Mar Wargo, I am here every day and do what I can(and many times feel like I am an army of one in my circle also). I do the e-mailing, calling, signing the petitions, plus have canvas grocery bags and magnetic signs on my truck that are against round-ups and slaughter. But being older, I am sorry to report that I do not FB or Twitter, but I always start conversations were ever I go to educate people on the Wild Horses and what is happening, so although we may not be everywere, we are here on RT’s site and hope to hear that we are moving in another direction to save our horses.


    • You are all brilliant lights of compassion, love and caring in a complex universe we refer to as life.

      Each and every single deed of goodness helps to bind the fabric that holds us together and that unity will be what finally wins over those who cause so much pain and suffering.

      Regardless of how you contribute your drive to get the honest message out is what will ultimately save the horses.

      Keep talking, writing, texting, emailing…whatever works for you and each time someone listens you have added another candle to the combined light.

      You are all very special…and yes, the horses will win and with that victory we will rediscover ourselves. The horses will end up saving us, I am certain, from ourselves.


      • We have deemed the Mustangs a essential part of our America, we shall not ever stop on their behalf, they are what makes America the Beautiful , I fight for them as I would fight for myself !!!!!! We will not leave a stone un turned till they enjoy the Freedom they so graciously fought for for us to have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Dear Gerri, I too do what I can. It was wonderful to read some of your ways of advocating. I too carry canvas grocery bags (Cafe Press) with “themes/causes,” 4 of each 1 theme, each time, to get a specific message across. 1) For wild horses 2) Anti-horse slaughter 3) Save our Wolves 4) Against Factory Farming. I have 2 anti-horse slaughter ‘bumper stickers.” One, I pasted the billboard photo to the inside of my back window. i wear anti-horse slaughter wristbands and give them away off my wrist. (People love them.) I wear a nice horse button and a larger one with the spread-the-word message clipped onto my handbag. All this seems like a lot, but is not, which is good. For I feel less-is-best to get attention…and good conversation! And like so many, sign petitions, call/email DC, comment on articles, donate. I have been to DC (lobby), conferences, rallies… But in the past year or so, have been unable to, but hope to again, in the future. To sum up, every day I do something for the horses. To paraphrase: “… it takes is one little candle to illuminate the dark and spread the light, the truth…” We are their voices, even though it may seem like a “small cry.” ❤


  11. The White House Holiday Tree has arrived —on a wagon pulled by horses. The BLM hates the wild horses and sells them to a kb. The Pres. pardoned 2 turkeys—and then sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner–presumably with turkey as the main dish. K Salazar wears a white hat–the sign of the “good guys” in the old western movies. I will send him a black hat for Xmas. I am so totally disgusted. BUT I salute all the warriors and advocacy groups who get up every day and fight, and phone, and go to court. Animal Angels is lighting candles on Dec 1–on the “Trail to Slaughter” inTexas. Dec. 13 is National Day of the Horse. Give your horses a hug–and then gear up for the next show down.


  12. I haven’t read the other comments yet but here’s my thought. Obama was committed to transparency in his first term. I don’t know if that is still the case but Salazar ABSOLUTELY must step aside and allow the investigation to proceed unimpeded.

    It may be an unpleasant thought but if the investigation shows wrongdoing he can always step down quietly. He may not go to prison or have a big fine but just knowing that he had to step down should be reason for joy.

    Then again, he could just step down at the start of the new term for the President. Retire from ALL government. No bonuses, no retirement, no health insurance. No FAVORABLE terms to his cattle business. He could cite personal circumstances or whatever excuse he wants.

    He may not have had any “direct” dealings with Tom Davis but we know his buddies in the BLM know the score. Any friend of Salazar’s is a friend of theirs. They would protect Salazar.

    It stinks. Salazar is a threat to the rest of us. He threatened to punch someone out.


  13. The sad thing is: its more than 6 weeks until the new term (officially). BLM can remove a lot of horses in that time. It seems they have ramped up the roundups – with no place to put these horses & burros.
    It DOES stink, Margaret!


  14. I find it insulting that they think that we as horse people could not figure this out. Sorry, but Ken Salizar is why the BLM is getting away with all of this. They all think that they are untouchable. However, it has been that way up until now..All of us as “Warriors” for our horses will not give up. Thank God there are people like Laura Bell. Its a sad state of affairs when our citizens are so scritinized and the other “Crooks” get away with this. I truly believe that this is only temporary. When the time comes they will get “Theirs”. And as they say in the western movies, “HANG ‘M HIGH”.


  15. First thing what has to be done. “Stop this Evil man Salazar , don’t give him a chance to do any more harm”, He has to be put behind bars.. ::Next::, WE, we have to work fast, before more of the Wild Horsese and Burrow’s are disappearing We have to inform the Public, what is going on’ what the BLM. is doing, Please, I am asking this over and over, Get people involved, We need VOICES , 1000’s of voices, !!! “We want a ” STOP the Round Ups,” We don’t want to loose any more of our Wild Horses.. Please, contact the Radio, TV, write to the program ” 60 Minutes”, their phone 02-9906-9999 and to “Date line”, and to” Ellen Generes” Give them some information, and also a Phone number, from an organization, like “wild Horse Freedom Federation, , 800-974-3684, And call “the White House” , 202-456-1111, tell them, to throw Salazar out of office. [ By the way, when they put you on Hold, don’t hang up, it can take long, but they WILL answer,] We can not sit still, we have to work fast. We want to keep our beautiful Horses safe and happy. They are :, “the Symbol of Freedom of this country” Please, give all this information to the next person, who writes a Comment . And so on and on and on.. Ps, thank you, R.T.Fitch and all the others, who are working so hard. You all are FANTASTIC !!! We will HELP you as much as we can!. ,


    • I am a regular on the Presidents comment Line, I have been calling there daily for four years, I am a well known with the Volunteers , they always are very receptive and also want to know what is really going on !!!!!!!!!!!! They all Love the Mustangs !!!!! Always they say they will get the message to the Pres.


  16. I think all this is so interesting. I’m holding out a hope that since Salazar seems to be selling Davis down the river, hopefully Davis will get pissed off and spill the beans on Salazar. I’d hate to see Davis get off but I’d rather get the bigger fish. I can’t imagine Davis taking the fall on this if he can pull Salazar down with him. Should be interesting to watch.

    And Steve, I post all this stuff on my FB page, send stuff to my Congressmen call POTUS on a regular basis. Something else people might do is write letters to the Editors of their papers especially when there is a comment period.


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