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Where Are They Now?
OpEd by Francis Gosman
Sometimes it can be very interesting to look back at the steps that are taken and the people involved. This is a look at those named on the cover of a legal brief; Laura Leigh, Ken Salazar, Bob Abbey and Ron Wenker.
Two years ago last week Wild Horse Education filed the Appeal in the Ninth Circuit on First Amendment issues and argued against BLM’s tactic of claiming “mootness” after a roundup ended. This tactic served the agency well in evading the scrutiny of the courts to their actions. Leigh’s Appeal (written by Leigh herself and attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno) won. The case created new case law that is being cited in civil rights issues as others argue these points of law. It also brought the case back into District court, not “moot,” and the record on the case was completed in a hearing Leigh says was a triumph of advocacy that she will never forget as she looked out into the gallery at those brave enough to come to court to testify on behalf of the wild horses regardless of any personal difference they all may have had (or pressure from other interests) as they held hands and had tears in their eyes as she testified. A decision is awaited from the district court on that case.
Since that decision, and the case law it has created, Leigh was able to move the Triple B Complex case forward, now in Discovery. That case has since gained a Preliminary Injunction to pilot conduct and the underlying issues will be heard in federal court. Another TRO was gained at Jackson Mountain to conduct that saw BLM running newborn foals in the heat of June and attempted to use a small area of justification to impact an entire HMA. Since the decision in the Ninth Circuit Another TRO was gained at Owyhee and was only lifted after BLM claimed a severe financial hardship, but not without strict language on the courts expectation of conduct. That case also encompasses unjustified removals over the life of the ten year plan at the Owyhee Complex and the motion for Preliminary Injunction will be heard on July 3rd.
Along with documenting roundups and range conditions, and addressing many other issues and avenues of proposed agency action, is what Leigh has been up to the last two years. Today she continues her documentation and legal actions and fights breast cancer.
But what about the others whose names appear on the cover of the Ninth Circuit brief? Not one of them is still with BLM/DOI.
Ken Salazar? Ken Salazar has stepped down from his position as Secretary of the Interior. This came after an investigation that uncovered 1,700 wild horses were sold to a known kill buyer by BLM and disappeared. The investigation spear headed by journalist Dave Philipps for ProPublica, and assisted by Wild Horse Education, led to the then Secretary of the Interior threatening that journalist with a “punch in the face.” Did that fiasco have anything to do with Salazar’s (called “Slaughterczar” by many advocates) resignation? We will never know for certain.
Bob Abbey? Bob Abbey was the head of the BLM that claimed a “new direction” in the wild horse and burro program so often that you forgot what year it was. Bob Abbey is the man that authorized a huge public relations firm to run a workshop with advocates in Denver of 2011 that resulted in absolutely no “direction,” let alone anything “new.” Bob Abbey has retired).
Added: In 2016 Abbey faced a few accusations http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060038093 “Former Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey was “personally and substantially” involved in the sale of federal lands in Nevada that would have earned his future consulting firm $528,000, in violation of an ethics pledge he signed, the Interior Department Office of Inspector General said in a report released today.”
Ron Wenker? Ron Wenker now wears a jumpsuit in jail for molesting a minor repeatedly over years. He received three life sentences after claiming his chld victim enjoyed the sex as much as he did. Several foul minds in BLM today claim he was “a good man that made a mistake.” http://blogs.rgj.com/crime/2012/08/09/man-claims-child-vic-enjoying-sex-abuse-as-much-as-him/
As the names change on the briefs filed against BLM’s wild horse and burro mismanagement “teams” it will be very interesting to see where they all are in two years time. Don’t you agree?
WildHorseEducation.org is a non-profit organization devoted to the protection of wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction.