Candidate for governor misleads public on his record of animal cruelty
Keeping an eye on the two faces of Gary King is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. We are on the case.
King, the state attorney general and a Democratic candidate for governor, now claims he is worried about the slaughter of animals in New Mexico. He was part of a chorus of politicians -- Republican Gov. Susana Martinez was another -- who last week attacked a company in Roswell that wants to process horse meat for consumption in foreign countries.
King must think we have all forgotten about his own record for slaughtering farm animals. He portrayed himself as a defender of the law in fighting federal licensing of the Roswell meatpacking plant.
“Granting an inspection of the proposed horse-slaughtering facility does not resolve the issues of potential violation of New Mexico state requirements,” King said in a press handout. “Our office has expressed concern that under current practices it is unlikely that the plant can show that it meets the requirements of the New Mexico Food Act in their manufacture and delivery of horse meat for human consumption."
King, Martinez and state land commissioner Ray Powell piled on the Roswell company as though it were a meth lab or an outlaw enterprise whose specialty would be burning down orphanages. The concocted press handout made sure all three wrangled the words "horse slaughter" into their statements.
It is easy for politicians to denounce a meatpacking plant that would use horses instead of cows. They know that horses are likable animals, and that many people will reflexively oppose horse meat on a dinner plate.
But when it comes to slaughtering farm animals, King has a record far more odious than anything the Roswell plant might do.
King hopes that voters in New Mexico have memories so short that they will forget about his complicity in raids of New Mexico ranches, the killing of thousands of healthy hens, roosters and chicks, and the smashing of eggs.
King is being sued personally because his Attorney General's Animal Cruelty Task Force massacred these birds on the false claim that it was busting up cockfighting rings.
To try to escape from one lawsuit filed by ranchers, King said he was ignorant of any abuses committed by his own organization. King now acts as though he never created and chaired the animal cruelty task force that practiced intimidation against ranchers.
In a federal court affidavit, he claimed that he did not know his task force took chickens from their owners, then poisoned the birds en masse without any proof of wrongdoing or any threat to public safety. King wants to weasel out of the lawsuit and pin all the blame on one of his task force members, Heather Ferguson.
She arranged for armed officers and even a police helicopter to bully certain ranchers. King contends this was done without his knowledge.
“I never delegated any authority of the attorney general’s office to Ms. Ferguson,” King wrote in his affidavit. “I never stated or knowingly implied that Ms. Ferguson had any authority to lead in the enforcement of New Mexico's animal cruelty laws, or to organize law enforcement officials in the enforcement of those laws.
“If I had ever been aware that Ms. Ferguson had represented herself as having any authority flowing from the attorney general’s office or the task force, I would have immediately demanded that she cease such representations and I would have informed any relevant law enforcement agencies,” King said.
By pleading ignorance, King admits that he is an awful administrator and that Ferguson, his chief oaf and enforcer, was out of control.
So why did King's task force slaughter thousands of healthy birds? Ferguson claimed without a shred of evidence that ranchers were giving the birds steroids to make them meaner for fighting.
“They’re injecting them with unknown and illegal substances that could threaten the food supply,” she said after a raid in 2009 in which she and other task force members poisoned 730 birds at a Bloomfield ranch with painful injections.
Now King is a presenting himself as a defender of animals, especially horses that might be killed at a lawful meatpacking plant.
This is politics at its most basic and brutal. King and Martinez know that most Americans do not like to think of horses as being part of a steak dinner in Europe. It is easy for them to denounce the company in Roswell, even though it would be a lawful business.
But when it came to wiping out ranchers' chickens and livelihoods without any legal basis, King went right along with the zealots he empowered. They knew he was a dupe.
You can run from your hideous record, Mr. Attorney General, but you cannot hide it, no matter how hard you try.