Wyoming state Rep. Sue Wallis, is the self-styled leader of an effort to legalize commercial horse slaughter for human consumption. It’s not often that you see someone making animal cruelty their life’s work, their raison d’etre.
It’s just not inspiring.
But if anyone personifies the grizzly and sleazy practice of horse slaughter, surely it’s Rep. Wallis.
As a state legislator, Rep. Wallis is supposed to be bound by certain ethics laws. Under the WY Constitution, for example, a legislator "who has a personal or private interest in any measure or bill proposed or pending before the legislature shall disclose the fact to the house of which he is a member, and shall not vote" on it. Wyo. Const. Art. 3, § 46 Under the state Ethics and Disclosure Act, Wy. Stat. § 9-13-101-108, specifically, § 9-13-103, "[n]o public official…shall use his office or position for his private benefit"; and § 9-13-106, "A public official…shall not make an official decision or vote on an official decision if the public official…has a personal or private interest in the matter… A public official… shall abstain from voting on the decision and from making any official decision in the matter. The public official’s… abstention from voting must be recorded in the governmental entity’s official records."
A recent request to investigate Rep. Wallis for ethics violations was sent to the Wyoming state House of Representatives, Secretary of State and local prosecutors. It was alleged that despite these clear laws, Rep. Wallis has failed to disclose her personal and financial interest or abstain from voting on legislation to promote horse slaughter. Worse, she has actually sponsored bills to try to pave the way for opening horse slaughter houses.
Why does this matter? Wallis has formed a company, Unified Equine LLC, and has been soliciting investment for the design and operation of a horse slaughter house. She has announced the production of "Unified Equine Products" and stated "meat, hide, hair, byproducts – will be marketed through every available legal market." She has announced that "Unified Equine Programs" "will be creating new jobs" at a horse slaughter house her company would own and operate. She would profit personally from horse slaughter. It creates a blatant conflict of interest with her position as state legislator. She is using her position as legislator to introduce legislation that would directly benefit her company.
Also, Rep. Wallis as the self-proclaimed "Executive Director" of United Organizations of the Horse has acted as lobbyist for horse slaughter at the same time she is supposed to be serving as a legislator. She has boasted her position as state legislator is the pro-horse slaughter contingent’s "greatest resource". She has used her position as legislator to obtain a seat on the National Council of State Legislatures, Agriculture and Energy Committee, a non-governmental lobbying organization that promotes state interests. She has used the position to promote horse slaughter. All which benefits her company.
On top of that, her company is soliciting investors for a business that is not legal or economically viable: Not only is commercial horse slaughter for human consumption illegal in the U.S., there is no market in the U.S. for human consumption of horsemeat or its use in pet food. To be a viable business within Wyoming which is what Rep. Wallis proposes, with its population of 544,270, such a facility "would have to …sell approximately 10,000,000 pounds of horsemeat per year, or 18 pounds for every man, woman and child in the state".
Rep. Wallis’ fellow Wyoming politicians refused to hold her accountable under these ethics laws, saying her plans to build a horse slaughter house are just so much talk. Tell that to the investors and public she is soliciting to invest in her horse slaughter house under the name Unified Equine LLC.
So much for the WY Ethics and Disclosure Act.
The local prosecutor in Rep. Wallis’ district also decided not to pursue other claims of criminal fraud such as her "truck raffle" that was supposed to raise money for her horse slaughter efforts. Yet, there was never a truck that was actually raffled and at one point, Rep. Wallis asked participants, people who purchased tickets, if she could just keep the money and dispense with the raffle. After the prosecutor declined to pursue the allegations, evidence surfaced of missing money and a bait and switch in connection with the truck raffle. Hopefully, the prosecutor will take another look.
This doesn’t even include the allegations still swirling about (1) Wallis’ questionable use of IRS designated charities to raise money, (2) her Food Freedom Act dubbed a fraud by a local health department official and which would allow consumers to eat tainted horsemeat produced presumably by her slaughter house, and (3) her alleged failure to comply with securities laws in connection with investment solicitations for her horse slaughter house. Then, of course, there is the misuse of Temple Grandin’s name in connection with the misnamed "Summit of the Horse" and in promoting Rep. Wallis’ planned horse slaughter house….
Rep. Wallis should not be "emboldened" by her fellow politicians and local prosecutor’s failure to hold her accountable. Instead, they should be ashamed.
It should be no surprise that someone like this is the "leader" of the pro horse slaughter effort. As the Equine Welfare Alliance documented in a report submitted to the Government Accountability Office in 2010, horse slaughter is "violent…and cruel". "Documents obtained by the Freedom of Information Act from the USDA depicts how cruel and inhumane the transport to slaughter is". Dr. Lester Friedlander, DVM & former Chief USDA Inspector, testified before Congress in 2008, "The captive bolt is not a proper instrument for the slaughter of equids, these animals regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck, they are fully aware they are being vivisected."
Horse slaughter creates a culture of cruelty.
As a business, horse slaughter is sleazy. This practice devastates communities, taking resources and leaving waste and blood literally flowing in the streets, odors, pollution, and debts that leave communities struggling to absorb tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid fines and other costs. For more….
The vast majority of Americans oppose horse slaughter. They understand it is an arcane, cruel practice best left in the past. In 2010 Americans fended off the pro-horse slaughter efforts of the likes of Rep. Wallis, and there appears to be little stomach for resurrecting horse slaughter in this country. We may not be able to get rid of a sleazy politician, but we can take away her "cause": In this Congressional session, 2011-2012, let’s put an end to the sleaze, the cruelty, the suffering of these animals, and ban the export of horses for slaughter for human consumption. It’s the perfect time.