IFAW ups the ante: Election contribution could change animal protection politics

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1996:

LONDON––Challenging blood sports pound-for-pound and upping the ante, International Fund for
Animal Welfare founder and president Brian Davies donated one million pounds sterling to the British Labour Party
on September 1 via the Political Animal Lobby, an officially independent organization equivalent to U.S. political
action committees, claiming 50,000 active supporters.
Davies said he made the gift because the Labour Party has declared that if it wins the upcoming
Parliamentary election, it will permit a free vote in the House of Commons on a bill to ban hunting with
hounds––which in Britain means fox hunting.
“After careful analysis of response and positions,” Davies
stated, “it was determined that Labour, at the moment, offers the best
across-the-board deal for animals. Naturally we would consider a similar
donation to the Conservative Party if it adopted an equally robust

PAL has in the past donated £365,950 to Labour, £117,578
to the Conservatives, £70,105 to the Liberal Democrats, and £54,262
to other political organizations. According to Michael Hornsby, agricultural
correspondent for the London Times, “A spokesman for PAL
said it planned to make ‘substantial contributions’ to the Tories
(Conservatives) and the Liberal Democrats over the next few weeks to
encourage anti-hunting groups in the parties. But the donations were
not expected to be anywhere near as big as Labour’s.”
Outraged hunting supporters in thinly veiled language
charged Davies with trying to buy the election, while Labour leader
Tony Blair insisted that, “To anyone who has given funding we make
clear, and we made it absolutely clear to the animal welfare people,
that we didn’t change an iota or a jot of policy.”
Attempts to ban fox-hunting have come close to passage by
Parliament several times in recent years, but have always been thwarted
by party positions.
As if to underscore political independence, Labour animal
welfare spokesperson Eliot Morley informed Animal Aid director
Andrew Tyler by mail just one week later that the party wants “to exam
ine the use of animals in all experiments in the
defence sector,” an apparent retreat from a
1994 policy statement which declared
unequivocally that if elected it would, “forbid
the use of animals in the testing of and development
of weapons.”
Animal Aid is the largest animal
rights group in Britain. Morley said his letter
to Tyler merely clarified the 1994 statement,
but, unmollified, Tyler organized a 20-city
protest featuring distribution of 100,000 postcards
demanding of Blair that Labour take a
harder line against animal experiments.
U.S. watching
As much impact as Davies’ donation
through PAL may have on the British political
process, it may be felt more in the United
States, where animal protection groups have
only just begun to form political action committees
and donate to candidates, and the sum
of animal protection PAC donations is still
much less in each national election than the
smallest PAL support of British parties. By
contrast, the National Rifle Association alone
gave $3.2 million to candidates in the 1994
Congressional election. The American
Medical Association gave $3 million to candidates
in 1990. Many other organizations representing
hunters and trappers, biomedical
research, agriculture, and other animal-use
industries also make major political contributions
during national election campaigns.
If Davies’ gamble pays off in a fox
hunting ban, it is likely to be emulated, much
as the animal rights movement itself has emulated
the fundraising and public relations tactics
Davies used in building IFAW. Founded
in 1967, the midst of an otherwise slow period
for animal causes, IFAW and subsidiaries now
raise $45 million annually, and are cumulatively
the largest animal protection organization
in the world, ahead of the Humane
Society of the U.S. and the North Shore
Animal League. Only the World Wildlife
Fund and Greenpeace are bigger in the entire
animals-and-habitat advocacy sector.
Should the U.S. animal protection
movement spend comparably, political
rhetoric traditionally favoring hunting, in particular,
could change. As the 1996
Presidential and Congressional races headed
toward the finish, however, it was still mygun-is-bigger-than-your-gun
talk as usual. The
braggadocio took a twist on September 17
when George Stephanopoulos, a senior adviser
to President Bill Clinton, attacked the
National Rifle Association for not endorsing
Republican challenger Robert Dole. The
Clinton strategy has for several years been to
divide-and-conquer on gun control by separating
hunters from other gun nuts, appealing to
the hunters by increasing their access to public
land, while linking Dole to the rest through his
traditional opposition to gun control.
One hole in that strategy is that the
NRA thinks Dole hasn’t been ardent enough in
trying to lift federal restrictions on the sale of
assault rifles, passage of which was one of
Clinton’s few legislative triumphs and one of
the NRA’s most humiliating defeats.
Another hole is that no one ever has
directly aligned hunters against other gun nuts,
or even demonstrated that they are not essentially
the same interest group.
Clintons shot ducks
The issue for animal-loving voters
going to the polls on November 5 is essentially
whether the value of having a Democrat in the
White House who has defended the
Endangered Species Act to some extent against
Republican majorities in the House of
Representatives and Senate, whose daughter
Chelsea is a cat-loving vegetarian, who pressured
Taiwan into curtailing wildlife trafficking,
outweighs the liability of having a president
and vice president who both hunt; who
have issued an Executive Order making hunting
an official purpose of the National Wildlife
Refuge system, opening 23 more wildlife
refuges to hunting and 18 to fishing; who
actively advance the World Wildlife Fund doctrine
of “sustainable use” trophy hunting; who
ignored the Norwegian resumption of commercial
whaling in 1993 to facilitate a $261 million
missile sale; who ignore Japanese whaling,
also apparently for trade reasons; whose
administration supports the Makah bid to begin
killing grey whales; who are lobbying against
the still unenforced European Community ban
on trapped fur imports; who support weakening
the U.S. “dolphin safe” tuna standard; who
have done little to stop wildlife trafficking by
nations other than Taiwan; and who, in
Clinton’s case, have close ties to the Tyson
poultry empire, offsetting occasional gestures
such as eating meatless burgers.
Even Hillary Clinton, who purportedly
pushed the meatless burgers, offended
humane voters on September 5 when she
boasted to a crowd in Texas that like her husband,
she has hunted and did once kill a duck.
She didn’t say whether she killed the duck at a
canned hunt, as Bill Clinton did on January 3,
1995, during the Congressional debate over a
failed attempt to repeal the assault rifle bill.
As usual, other candidates and
prominent supporters of candidates took maximum
advantage of hunting season opening day
photo opportunities. Representative Frank
Lukas (R-Oklahoma) even made a little speech
about how he enjoys the “peacefulness” of
blasting doves to Kingdom Come.
Independent presidential candidate
Ralph Nader, a longtime vegetarian, didn’t
espouse any pro-hunting rhetoric himself––but
he picked as his running mate Native
American activist Winona LaDuke, whose
outspoken defense of Native hunting, fishing,
trapping, and sealing practices frequently
includes ridicule of animal protection.
Showing his increasing appreciation
of U.S.-style electoral politics, Russian president
Boris Yeltzin showed off his strength on
the eve of heart surgery––and a September 7
dinner meeting with German chancellor
Helmut Kohl––by shooting more than 40
ducks and a 440-pound boar.
Babbitt shot foot
While striking a pose with a weapon
is easy, actually pleasing the hook-and-bullet
crowd with legislation without alienating
Middle America is a different matter, as the
Clinton administration learned on September
17, when Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt
told the International Association of Fish and
Wildlife Agencies that he will ask Congress to
tax outdoor gear to finance conservation.
The IAFWA and hunting organizations
have favored such a tax for years, arguing
that it is unfair to hunters and fishers to
fund nongame programs via the federal taxes
already collected on sales of hunting and fishing
Of perhaps greater concern to state
wildlife managers, the number of license-buying
hunters has fallen by a third or more in 15
years, despite frequent extensions of licensing
requirements to cover more activities. Demographics
indicate further decline is inevitable.
Without a guaranteed source of income,
wildlife agencies will increasingly depend on
legislatures for funding. But as the number of
hunters drops, their influence and ability to
lobby for favors may drop, too.
Based on poll results published by
Responsive Management Inc., of Harrisonburg,
Virginia, Babbitt might have expected
the tax proposal to attract broad public support.
The Responsive Management poll, commissioned
by the Pennsylvania Game Commission
and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission,
showed 56% of adult Pennsylvanians endorse
a tax on outdoor gear to support conservation.
But Responsive Management history is that it
tells clients with hook-and-bullet agencies and
in the fur trade what they want to hear, producing
study results that tend to conflict with
the findings of independent polls.
Flak hit fast and hard. As House
Ways and Means Committee chair Bill Archer
(R-Texas) objected, “This tax would fall most
heavily on low and middle-income people.”
Within less than 24 hours, an
Interior Department press release stipulated
that Babbitt’s opinions were strictly his own.
Courting both green votes and
hunters, Clinton on September 18 invoked the
1906 Antiquities Act to create Canyons of the
Escalante National Monument in Utah, reserving
1.7 million acres for wildlife. It will
remain under the authority of the Bureau of
Land Management, not the National Park
Service, meaning that hunting and grazing
will continue to be permitted.
Endangered species
Like Clinton, Dole has long favored
agribusiness––and while Tyson and Phillip
Morris among other agribusiness giants gave
Clinton’s campaign fund $145,000 in 1995,
Dole was favored with $568,000 from
agribusiness donors including Archer Daniels
Midland and Nabisco. Extensive analysis of
the Clinton and Dole records in the September
edition of The Viva Vine, the newsletter of the
New York-based VivaVegie Society, found
that, “Dole, Clinton are no friends to vegetarians,”
with little substantive difference
between them on vegetarian issues.
Clinton has benefited by the perception
that he is a stronger defender of the
Endangered Species Act than Dole. Indeed,
Clinton’s repeated vetoes of budget bills with
anti-ESA riders last winter started him back to
popularity, from very low approval ratings in
1994. It isn’t clear, though, that a Dole
administration would be less supportive of a
strong ESA than Clinton; Dole’s political
mentor, in fact, was Richard Nixon, whose
administration passed the ESA and most of the
other legislation shaping U.S. endangered
species policy. A Republican White House
working with a Reblican House and Senate
would be would more likely to keep disputes
over the ESA within conference rooms than to
issue public vetoes.
Otherwsie, Dole and Kemp have
spent much of the past two years trying to pull
the wise-use wiseguy House Republicans back
toward the political center. Neither ever joined
the Congressional Sportsmen’s Alliance. And
Dole, winner of the Animal Welfare
Institute’s Albert Schweitzer Medal in 1986,
has historically supported animal protection
measures, including both the initial passage
and repeated strengthening of the Animal
Welfare Act and Humane Slaughter Act.
Despite endorsing the concept of
compensating landowners for loss of property
value caused by ESA enforcement, and in
Dole’s case introducing such a “takings” bill,
neither Dole nor Kemp directly attacked the
ESA during the 104th Congress. The full text
of a July 28 Dole speech that was widely
reported as an attack on the ESA indeed stipulated
that Dole believes species protection and
economic development are compatible goals,
not that one takes precedence over the other.
In each regard, the speech avoided setting
forth potentially problematic particulars,
which Dole has always preferred to grapple in
private rather than in the media.
When the 104th Congress took
office two years ago, an ESA rewrite seemed
inevitable. One year ago the biggest question
was how far the rewrite would go.
By June 18, however, as protecting
the ESA with vetos brought Clinton resurging
popularity, House Speaker Newt Gingrich
told the Alliance for America, a leading voice
of wise-use wiseguys, that, “If we were to go
to the floor on a straight up-and-down vote
tomorrow morning, we don’t have the votes.
The objective fact is that there are not enough
ranchers and miners and foresters in Congress
to win a vote in the House. We have to find a
way to build a bigger coalition,” Gingrich
emphasized. “If property rights is portrayed in
the popular media as a synonym for anti-environment,
we can’t win.”
Gingrich refused to bring to vote an
ESA rewrite co-authored by Richard Pombo
(R-Calif.) and House Resources Committee
chair Don Young (R-Alaska), which cleared
the Resources Committee late in 1995.
Gingrich is believed to have favored a “moderate”
ESA rewrite drafted by Jim Saxton (RN.J.)
and Wayne Gilchrest (R-Maryland),
with input from the timber and real estate lobbies
plus the Environmental Defense Fund.
But that bill wasn’t even introduced.
Anti-ESA riders attached to other
bills were killed one after another in early
September, including a move by Frank Riggs
(R-Calif.) to halt the designation of critical
habitat for the marbeled murrelet, whose presence
in coastal forests has disrupted logging,
and an attempt by Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) to
allow the President to unilaterally exempt
Defense Department projects from ESA compliance.
Under current law, the Secretary of
Defense can grant an ESA waiver for military
projects, but only with the approval of both
the Secretary of the Interior and the President.
press, anti-ESA riders were still attached to
House versions of the Interior Appropriations
Bill and the Immigration Bill, the latter to
enable the Immigration and Naturalization
Service to fence the Mexican border without
consideration of the impact on the endangered
Sonoran pronghorn, masked bobwhite quail,
ocelot, and jaguarundi. Grazing bill language
to undo the BLM’s “multiple use” policy was
also considered a threat to endangered species,
since providing habitat would no longer be an
official purpose of leased pasture land.
Killing Flipper
Another hot potato, the bill to
rewrite the definition of “dolphin safe” tuna to
allow imports of tuna netted “on dolphin,”
cleared the House 316-108 on August 14.
Backed by Clinton and Gore, it would limit
dolphin deaths in tuna netting to 5,000
“observed” per year. The World Wildlife
Fund, Greenpeace, the National Wildlife
Federation, Environmental Defense Fund,
and Natural Resources Defense Council argue
that netting tuna “on dolphin” is overall less
destructive to nontarget marine life, including
sharks and sea turtles, who are at far greater
risk than dolphins of extinction. Opponents,
including most animal protection groups,
argue that rolling back safeguards for dolphins
instead of increasing protection of other nontarget
species is going in the wrong direction.
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), married
to tuna heiress and EDF board member
Teresa Heinz, leads the push to get the revision
of “dolphin safe” through the Senate. But
the Heinz tuna company lines up opposite to
Kerry and Heinz: having invested heavily in
the equipment to avoid killing dolphins,
Heinz doesn’t relish having to share the “dolphin
safe” label with tuna fishers and canners
who did not.
In an essay entitled “Al Gore,
Green Groups & Narco-Traffickers,” the
August 12/19 edition of The Nation c h a r g e d
that Mexico, Canada, and Chile are invoking
the North American Free Trade Agreement
and the General Agreement on Trade and
Tariffs against “dolphin safe” standards
because “Tuna fleets in Latin America have
long been associated with the smuggling north
of cocaine and heroin. Last year,” it continued,
“the Nataly I, a tuna boat registered in
Panama but owned by the Cali cartel in
Colombia, was seized off the coast of Mexico
by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration, with a 12-ton cargo of
cocaine. A few weeks ago, Jose Cartillon
Henao, now charged with being the manager
of the Cali cartel tuna fleet, including the
Nataly I, was arrested in Panama. He
revealed that he has given significant contributions
to the campaign chests of Panama’s presidents
and also its attorney general. In both
Colombia and Venezuela there are similar
close ties between drug kings and the politicians
rushing to Washington to call for dismantling
U.S. dolphin-safe laws in the name
of free trade. In Venezuela, indeed, cocaine
is often termed ‘atun blanco’––white tuna.”
Political paranoia has gripped T h e
Nation before––but the drug angle on conflicts
between free trade and environmental protection
has surfaced before, too. Homero
Aridjis, president of the Mexican environmental
organization Grupo del Cien, hinted
on March 10 in the Mexico City newspaper
R e f o r m a that cocaine politics are behind the
Mexican government’s support of a Mitsubishi
salt mining project at the northern end of the
Gulf of California, which could devastate the
calving area for grey whales. Not necessitated
by global demand for salt, Aridjis argued, the
project would keep popular drug-smuggling
routes clear. Aridjis attributed the theory to
Francisco Guzman Laza, a shipping executive
who was for nine years involved in the
Mexican salt trade and with Mitsubishi.

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