By LAURA LEIGH, President Wild Horse Education
To The Desert Independent
November 5, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – Wild Horse Education, a nonprofit advocacy organization, filed a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The complaint alleges ethics violations involving the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Deputy Director William Perry Pendley. William Perry Pendley, the BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs, exercising authority of the director, has been busy calling wild horses the greatest threat to our public lands.
The statements, and agency actions under Pendley, are forwarding the interests of multiple entities included on Pendley’s 17-page recusal list. In addition, the complaint alleges Pendley has used his position to assist those same entities in gaining access to high level agency meetings and information not really available to the public. These entities will benefit financially, gain support for active legislative change and create a significant and irreparable harm to public resource (wild horses).
When asked at the Society for Environmental Journalism (SEJ) conference last month, “Why are wild horses the biggest threat and not, as an example, climate change?” Pendley seemed to attribute part of his reasoning based on the fact that he had not been fully briefed by BLM regional directors on other issues because of his recusal list.
These recusals include oil companies, energy companies and the National Mining Association. They also include stock growers and multiple entities that represent public lands livestock. The livestock industry (including individuals associated with organizations on the recusal list) are actively lobbying Congress for broad changes to the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, including additional funding that will double the current rate wild horses are removed from public lands.
“The actions and comments made by Pendley about wild horses are so absurd we see multiple environmental groups that are usually neutral, or even not particularly favorable, on wild horse issues outraged,” said Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education, “His statements to the press, at this time, are intended to directly influence debates in Congress that could have disastrous, and cruel, consequence to wild horses.”
Multiple officials in this administration have apparently used their government positions to provide their former private employers with access and insight into the Interior Department. Executive branch officials are prohibited for a period of two years from the date of their appointment from meeting or communicating with previous employers to discuss specific policy matters under the White House’s own ethics pledge.
“Pendley is apparently following the footsteps on many that have already left Interior under a slew of ethics investigations like former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.” continued Leigh, “The media has paid attention. When wild horses do not exist on 88% of public lands and get a fraction of resources on the 12% they occupy, the idea that wild horses are the greatest threat to public land is an obvious absurdity. It is also, likely, an extraordinary violation of ethics rules. Unfortunately, in the case of America’s public horses, the devastating agenda moves forward without a serious investigation.”
The organization filed the complaint and asked for an expedited investigative process.
Included in the 17-page recusal list: Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Colorado Farm Bureau Federation.