At Wild Horse Education (WHE) we are busy tracking multiple bills, documenting and providing information to multiple sources. The FY 2018 Proposed Budget that would allow the sale to slaughter, or outright killing, of healthy wild horses is our priority today. However the “loop of corruption” that constantly catches our wild ones and causes a constant scapegoating of wild horses to serve an agenda that fails to comply with common sense and the law, is a core factor of our work at this time. We want you to be aware of some of this twisted landscape.
On June 14 HR657 became Public Law number 115-40. Summary; (Sec. 2) This bill extends the prohibition against a person taking, failing to take, or threatening to take or fail to take a personnel action against any employee or applicant for employment for refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law to personnel actions against such an individual for refusing to obey an order that would violate a rule or regulation.
This says what you think it says. It is illegal for someone to order you to violate the law. It is illegal for them to threaten to fire you, transfer you or make your life miserable if you do not follow an order to violate the law.
Most of us made an assumption that this was already an illegal activity. In the world the vast majority of us live in complying with a request to violate the law under pressure of retaliation or in exchange for a gift (like a bonus or promotion) is called either collusion or being an accomplice.
Federal employees take all kinds of oaths. Many jobs require a “swearing in” ceremony. All of these positions require the employee to hold up the law, don’t they?
Pretty noble statement. Sounds almost like something any environmentalist or advocate would willingly accept in their own charter. WHE has something similar.
“To serve with honesty, integrity, accountability, respect, courage, and commitment to make a difference.” We have heard this type of position statement referenced by many BLM personnel, but rarely see it in practice.
Our fight to gain a humane handling policy, as one example, we were constantly told “BLM complies with the law and manages wild horses humanely.” We witnessed the contractor and BLM argue, wild horses run through barbed wire, helicopters hit horses, babies hot shot repeatedly and other conduct. We took it to court and won, repeatedly. BLM made excuses to media and the public as they continued to assert “nothing was wrong.” The contractor resents us. BLM resents us, because the contractor resents us.
We took the heat because they failed; “To serve with honesty, integrity, accountability, respect, courage, and commitment to make a difference.”
We see articles like this one by Christopher Ketcham in the Daily Beast, “Help Wanted: Biologists to Save the West From Trump,” dubbed the “Warrior Biologist” article by several conservation organizations in social media.
“In dozens of conversations with current and former officials in the land and wildlife management bureaucracies, I’ve heard the same story: idealists trained in ecology go into public service with the intention of enforcing environmental law only to be told by their higher-ups that it’s not politically tenable to do so.”
Most of the articles that we see that discuss this type of absolute corruption include an interview with a “former” employee or a retired federal land manager.
The managers, said Rosentreter, were unimpressed. Finally one of them raised a hand and said, “I know I’m breaking the law, but if I followed the law, I’d have every county commissioner, state legislator, governor and Congressional member in my state trying to get me fired. You’re not paying me enough to go through that. I rely upon the environmental groups to sue me and then when I lose in court, I can say, ‘Hey I don’t want to do this, but the courts and environmentalists are making me do this.’”
“In my experience I have witnessed the same type of stuff both outside as an advocate and inside as a volunteer. You can see clearly in body language and in the eyes of federal employees that they know they are wrong, but are going to do it anyway. Instead they are going to rely on litigation, a massive and expensive effort on the part of advocacy, to achieve the appropriate action under law. I have seen it over and over.
I have become increasingly disgusted with the lack of integrity by those paid by the tax payer to do a job, enforce the law and protect public resource. Instead these jobs create really bizarre social structures and dysfunction. Each time I point the inequity out I get this ‘we must do this’ and then some lame reference to ‘fair multiple use.’ There is nothing fair about any of it.” ~ Leigh
The public picks up the tab for salaries, pensions, litigation. Public land and resources continue to pay a price.
In addition to the “Follow the Rules” Act becoming public law we have another bill to expand on “whistleblower” protections. S 633 expands protections.
Summary: Congressional Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017
This bill amends the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to extend specified whistle-blower protections to employees of congressional offices and committees, the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services, the Capitol Police, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, the Office of the Attending Physician, the Office of Compliance, the Government Accountability Office, and the Library of Congress.
Some direct text (already available to BLM employees):
No employing office may take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action (within the meaning of chapter 23 of title 5, United States Code) with respect to any covered employee or applicant for employment because of—
any disclosure of information by a covered employee or applicant which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences—
a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; or
gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety,
So why do employees that work for federal agencies like the BLM and National Parks seem to always wait until they retire to speak if the law protects them? Maybe because they live in a world where it is left to advocacy to actually force accountability to it.
Is our federal government that corrupt?
As wild horse advocates we have a very interesting window into public land management. Wild horses are often used as a placation tool in this mess. We will have more soon.
We are working diligently to engage this core concept; “honesty, integrity, accountability, respect, courage, and commitment to make a difference.”
Our wild horses rely on your voice to gain gain any equity in a system that requires a new law to try to stop federal employees from breaking the law.
Categories: Wild Horse Education