Witness: Interior Sec Salazar threatened Colorado reporter

Perhaps more prophetic than they thought, the folks at The Onion newspaper ran this photo and story “Secretary of Interior Decks Smart-Ass Buffalo” on October 13, 2012. http://www.theonion.com/articles/secretary-of-interior-decks-smartass-buffalo,29914/

Well, most two-term presidents look to make changes in their cabinet.  Looks like Interior Secretary Ken Salazar just made President Obama’s decision a whole lot easier.

According to Bryon Tau at Politico:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar threatened to punch a reporter on a recent trip to Colorado, according to witnesses.

Dave Philipps, a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette, tried to ask Salazar about his appointments to the Bureau of Land Management and the wild horse population in the state. Specifically, Philipps had questions about the government’s relationship with a wild horse buyer who allegedly sold more than 1,700 horses to Mexican slaughterhouses.

Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Cloud Foundation, witnessed the exchange between Salazar and a reporter. Her organization put out a release cataloging the exchange and blasting Salazar for his treatment of the press. The group captured video of some of the exchange, but stopped recording before the threat itself.

According to Kathrens, Salazar took two questions from Philipps before disagreeing with his line of questioning.

“Don’t you ever … You know what, you do that again… I’ll punch you out,” Salazar reportedly told Philipps before ending the interview and walking off.

The alleged incident took place when Salazar was in Colorado on Election Day, on behalf of the Obama campaign.

10 thoughts on “Witness: Interior Sec Salazar threatened Colorado reporter”

  1. The Onion’s prophetic imagery is spot-on, obviously informed by personal experiences with Salazar’s character traits.

    A lot goin’ on with the public-funded national disasters aided and abetted immensely by agency capture and corruption in Colorado these days. Thanks for helping Sharon cover these numerous events.

    Here’s more on the subject from Amy Goodman’s coverage on Democracy Now. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/9/all_the_missing_horses_federal_govt:

    (excerpted — literally too much fascinating truth revealed to include it all here)

    “In a new investigation, ProPublica reporter Dave Philipps tracks what happens to many of the wild horses rounded up in the western United States by the Bureau of Land Management. A little-known livestock hauler named Tom Davis is buying almost all of the horses the bureau removes from the wild, in a program meant to maintain a sustainable balance among the herds. Like all buyers in the program, Davis signs a contract promising the animals will not be slaughtered and insists he finds them good homes. But Davis is a longtime advocate of horse slaughter, and he refuses to disclose where the horses end up. Animal welfare advocates fear the horses he buys are being sent to the killing floor. [includes rush transcript]


    AMY GOODMAN: A horse, a live horse, costs $10. How much does a horse weigh?

    DAVID PHILIPPS: These horses might be anywhere between 700 and 1,400 pounds. What’s interesting is the government spends thousands of dollars to gather these horses up, and then they ship them to Tom Davis for free. Oftentimes that trucking bill is $5,000.

    AMY GOODMAN: Where is his farm?

    DAVID PHILIPPS: This is where it gets really interesting. He lives down in a very rural and beautiful place in Colorado called the San Luis Valley. He is literally just down the road from the farm of Ken Salazar, who’s the secretary of the interior, and has a long business relationship with him.

    AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “a long business relationship”?

    DAVID PHILIPPS: He has often hauled cattle for Salazar, who is a rancher. They know each other. They’ve known each other for decades.

    AMY GOODMAN: Does Ken Salazar know about this? Did you attempt to interview the secretary of the interior?

    DAVID PHILIPPS: I attempted multiple times—multiple, multiple times—and never got a word out of him. However, I do know that Tom Davis, the buyer, wanted to start his own horse slaughter plant there right next to his ranch and tried to enlist the help of Ken Salazar’s brother, who is our state Department of Agriculture chief, to try and help him get it started.

    AMY GOODMAN: Former congressman.

    DAVID PHILIPPS: Absolutely. Now, John Salazar refused, saying it was—you know, it was a too politically hot topic, but wished him luck, according to Davis.”

    (end quote)

    These sidelined insights on reality are tragically, not given nearly enough exposure in mass media for the public to fully grok the cause / effect relationships — such as this Colorado home boy’s good ol boy cronyism and how it reflects on his performance in larger national realms.

    • Whoa, David, hold your horses (so to speak)? What national “disasters” aided and abetted by “corruption in Colorado”?

      I have nothing but compassion for the public servants who have to work on this issue. They face a serious dilemma between protecting the environment and people who care about horses.

  2. ‘Whoa, David, hold your horses (so to speak)? What national “disasters” aided and abetted by “corruption in Colorado”?’

    Whoa, Sharon, neither Amy’s coverage nor Pro Publica’s aren’t good enough to demonstrate “corruption in CO?” They work for me.
    (Actually, despite your expressed compassion for public servants, they’re OUR horses, not just mine. And that’s another example of how corrupted the logic is of “local control” of national forests and grasslands trumping all other Americans’ best interests — but that’s another tragic topic.)

    By entering “fracking”, “corruption”, and “Colorado” as Google search terms, I found the following items and much more, delivered in 0.41 seconds.(you could too!)

    Salon.com reported, on the national disaster of fracking on WEDNESDAY, OCT 3, 2012 05:00 AM AKDT with the headline:

    “Colorado’s fracking fight gets ugly”
    It’s scheming pols and dirty industry against small-town America. Really


    “In an unprecedented move last month, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission took the extraordinary step of suing Longmont, Colorado in an attempt to overturn that city’s ordinances regulating drilling in residential neighborhoods and mandating water-quality monitoring at fracking sites. Underscoring the bipartisan nature of the assault on local communities, the suit follows previous threats by Republican Attorney General John Suthers (D) to sue local communities that dare try to regulate drilling in their communities.

    To know that this situation exemplifies the ancient fears of distant elites colluding with Big Money is to remember two key facts:

    1) Hickenlooper’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign was fueled by massive contributions from the fossil fuel industry, and he has paid back the favor by appointing an industry crony to the commission, appearing in the industry’s radio ads, and publicly ignoring the many scientific studies documenting the possible dangers of fracking.

    2) the lobbying arm of Colorado’s oil and gas industry promptly inserted itself into the state’s move against Longmont, wholeheartedly backing the suit with its own motions. As the Longmont Times-Call reports, the industry’s lobbying group is actually trying to overturn the city’s basic right “to suspend or revoke a local permit if state or federal rules are violated.”

    Put it all together, and the ugly parable comes to life. Here you have a distant state commission effectively working as the lawyer for an industry lobbying group against a local community. And not just any old state commission, mind you – but one directed by a governor whose rise to power was funded by the very industry that has a financial interest in overriding the community’s objections.” (end quote)

    Then there’s http://fractivist.blogspot.com/p/fracking-images-i.html which quotes Governor Hickenlooper,

    ” I think we should drill the daylights out of natural gas and cut regulations.”, as reported in the New York Times Magazine 1/5/2011

    Fractivist notes below a county map covered in red dots, “19,000 active oil and gas wells – Weld County, CO. Each red dot represents up to 52 active wells. I have > 75 active wells within a one mile radius of my home!”

    Fracking, is an unnecessary generator of GHG emissions, 23 times more potent than CO2, CH4 is hardly the only harmful emission occurring in close proximity to residential areas. The introduction of carcinogenic elements into our air and water — our commons — being poisoned through local corruption and the unregulated pursuit of shareholder profit taking is staggering in both scale and deliberate intent to impose these disasters nationwide.

    One thing is quite clear though Sharon. I can lead you to the horses’ trough of information but I can’t make you drink from that which you’ve repeatedly raised reasons why you refuse. Much of that refusal stems from your expressed denial, such as the systemic causation of climate change to CO’s wildfires, or, as you frame it, “the Sandy thing.” I can’t help but notice, often, the same objections raised from the corporate oil rhetorical strategies are revealed as shared strategies of your own.

    As the Fractivist notes, “1.7 Million Gallons of Toxic Oil and Gas Liquids Unrecovered in Weld County Colorado…KERR-MCGEE O&G: Groundwater Impacted – REPORT CONFIRMED BENZENE GROUNDWATER IMPACTS”… etc.etc.

    I am confident, over time, human, domestic and wild animal morbidity and mortality will attest far more after-the-fact evidence of these “national “disasters” aided and abetted by “corruption in Colorado,” than these early warnings coming from all quarters on these newsworthy matters.

    • This is “such an issue” because Secretary Salazar and other bureaucrats in positions of power are still presumably bound by “ethics” and “law.”

      One of those laws is called “assault”, defined as a crime that causes a victim to understand or perceive — a threat of violence being directed at them.

      When such threats are made by public officials such as Salazar (strategically requisite apologies notwithstanding), it undermines the public trust in the office and those holding responsibility for the execution of powers of that office.

      No amount of your attempts at normalizing these threats will make the law go away, but like so much of your complaints around foundational laws regarding the environment, this doesn’t mean you don’t have the freedom to excoriate those who defend such laws.

      Just out of curiosity, were you one of the “Raters” of my last comment? If so, was it a denunciation of the comment, or of the incidents demonstrating ‘national “disasters” aided and abetted by “corruption in Colorado”?’

    • I totally get why wild horses are an issue, I don’t get how Salazar’s behavior is such an issue. Elected and appointed officials often behave badly, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, year to year. He apologized.

  3. ” I don’t get how Salazar’s behavior is such an issue.”
    Having family in the news business, one would think this would be understandable to you Sharon.

    Here’s some excerpted remedial help from Ethics Alarms.com

    A No Tolerance Rule For Cabinet Members: Don’t Threaten Reporters

    I’ll make this simple, and get right to the point: any Cabinet member who threatens a reporter with physical violence for doing the job journalists are supposed to do should be fired. No exceptions. Moreover, that should be obvious and beyond debate.
    A representative of the Administration who threatens reporters cannot be trusted, and shouldn’t be tolerated. The higher he is on the organizational chart, the more important this is, because the more damaging the conduct is. Our government officials should not threaten individuals and institutions engaged in exercising their First Amendment rights, and if they do, they should cease to be government officials.

    There is a coda to this as well. If the news media and its reporters and leaders do not stand with Phillipps and insist that this incident be taken seriously, they are cringing, ignorant, irresponsible fools unworthy of being entrusted with important function a free press must serve in a democracy. So far, it appears that Salazar won’t be properly held to account, either by the President or journalists. The only statement forthcoming is that he “regrets the incident.”

    Not enough.


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