On Election Day, at a rally for Barack Obama in Fountain, Colorado, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar was being interviewed by Dave Phillips, a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, about Salazar’s policies in dealing with America’s wild horse populations. When the interview was over, Salazar threatened Phillips, “If you set me up like this again, I’ll punch you out.”
This threat was made in the presence of Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado-based wild horse advocacy organization. Kathrens, shocked, said, “I was stunned by the Secretary’s rude and clearly hostile comment toward Dave.” Kathrens, who had been given permission to take pictures at the rally, continued, She added:
Salazar walked past me, refused to shake my hand, and told me, ‘You know, you should never do that.’ These threats would have been inappropriate coming from anyone, but the fact that it came out of the mouth of the Secretary of the Interior is alarming. I can’t believe that a top official in Obama’s cabinet could be so defensive.
Salazar’s hostility toward Phillips arose from a story Phillips wrote in September regarding the government’s sale of more than 1,700 wild horses to Tom Davis, a Colorado killer buyer. The horses were sent to South Texas and likely wound up in Mexican slaughterhouses.
Salazar has targeted wild horses for years; when he ran for the Senate in 2004, he bluntly said, “They don’t belong on public lands.” The Bureau of Land Management, which is under Salazar’s jurisdiction, has nearly twice as many wild horses housed than are roaming free. As a result, wild herds are under-populated.
Kathrens correctly noted that the problem with Salazar is deeper than the treatment of wild horses:
You know, this isn’t just about wild horses. America needs leaders in Washington, and the President needs cabinet members who respect citizens, respect the laws, value discussion and working toward mutual solutions. Ken Salazar displayed none of this on Tuesday.