His task force slaughtered chickens; now he's a protector of horses
He always plays to the grandstand.
Here is how King went from overseeing the mass killings of farm animals to being an alleged defender of horses.
King created and chaired the Attorney General's Animal Cruelty Task Force. Then he allowed his organization to operate as a vigilante group that raided New Mexico ranches in 2008 and '09.
King's group, filled with zealots after cheap but favorable publicity, killed hundreds of healthy chickens under the guise that it was breaking up cockfighting rings.
A Democrat running for governor, King now is trying to distance himself from his own task force because of lawsuits by ranchers. They say he illegally took and killed their poultry, causing them financial harm and violating their constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures.
King has even filed a federal court affidavit saying he did not empower his task force to raid ranches. He claims he was blindsided by the abuse of power committed by his raiders.
But he still wants to be seen as a champion of animal rights, no matter how many chicks, hens, roosters and eggs that his task force poisoned or stomped.
So King announced that he is intervening in a lawsuit aimed at stopping a horse-slaughter plant in Roswell.
King said killing horses with certain drugs in their system would violate the state’s food act. The drugs would include an anti-inflammatory medication often found in racehorses and medicines to treat parasitic and viral infections.
Too bad King was not so careful in monitoring his animal cruelty task force, which never bothered to test the chickens it killed, though it claimed they were infected with steroids.
King's raiders slaughtered birds on the unsupported allegation that they had been drugged to make them meaner and stronger. King's task force primarily targeted Hispanic ranchers, relying on a stereotype that they were grooming their poultry for cockfighting.
King's group had no proof that ranchers were feeding their birds steroids. But it bullied ranchers into signing waivers for the mass killings. The alternative was that King's task force would charge the ranchers thousands of dollars each day in boarding fees for the birds.
King was a proud leader of the task force for a while. He even accepted a national award for organizing it. Then came the truth about the reckless, out-of-control group he created. Now he hopes to shift the public's attention as he tries to re-invent himself as a protector of horses.
Horses already are being slaughtered in Mexico for consumption in Europe. Even if King and momentary allies such as Gov. Susana Martinez, Robert Redford and former governor Bill Richardson stop the horse plant in Roswell, they will not prevent New Mexico horses from being shipped elsewhere to be killed and then packaged as food.
But King figures horses potentially headed to slaughter in Roswell might stir public interest and rehabilitate his battered image as a champion of animal protection.
The reality is different. The grandstand that King hopes will cheer him is filled with skeptics.
They know that King's Animal Cruelty Task Force was as cruel as Michael Vick. At least Vick admitted his crimes and served time for them.
King and his raiders think they can trample the rights of ranchers and get away with it.