Monday, June 6, 2011

GAO Cries Foul After Horseback Story – We Stand by the Story

Horseback Magazine

June 7, 2011

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – When we exposed a leak by the government watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on June 3, 2011 we expected to get blow back. It didn’t take long.
We reported that a GAO spokesperson had confirmed that the report had been leaked, allegedly to former Texas Rep. Charles Stenholm, now a lobbyist for the meat packing industry. The report is allegedly titled The State of Horse Welfare in the United States Since the Cessation of Horse Slaughter in 2007, according to a document sent to Horseback by Senior Public Information Specialist Laura Kopelson. We quoted the document, describing the methodology for the story and named our source.
Horseback Magazine stands by the story.
The response came first thing Monday morning from Chuck Young, Managing Director, Public Affairs, of the agency. “Your report of June 3 entitled “Key Government Report Leaked” is replete with errors and the misstatements of fact.”
“First, it is completely inaccurate when it claims Laura Kopelson confirmed to you that a GAO report had been leaked. Ms. Kopelson did no such thing.”
Kopelson not only confirmed the report had been leaked, she refused to release it to Horseback despite the fact she acknowledged it was already in the hands of others saying, “That’s what we’re hearing.”
Young went on saying, “Second, it claims to provide a title of the report when in fact the title you present is not now, nor has it ever been, the title of the draft report.”
Unfortunately for the GAO’s chief spokesman, that was the title printed on the document released to Horseback Magazine last Friday describing the methodology which was to be used for the study.
Young continued saying, “Third, you say the report was quoted in early January, yet the fact is that report had not even been written at that time.”
In fact, the report was repeatedly mentioned at a poorly attended “Summit of the Horse” event in Las Vegas the first week in January.
“And finally you claim the report will be posted June 22. That is a target date and there is no guarantee the report will be publicly released on that day. GAO does not release the reports until they are complete and that includes the federal agencies we are examining having had the opportunity to respond.”
Horseback also reported that a lead investigator with the agency who worked on the report with some prominent horse advocates has been out of contact for more than a month..
“I called the number for Terry Horner (the investigator we talked to),” an official with the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance told Horseback Magazine. “The number I had said service was not available. Then I went through the switchboard and dialed by name. That gave me a message from Horner saying he would be out of the office through the end of May and not checking that voice mail box. Then it connected me to his line which gave me a message that I had reached an unassigned number!”
Horseback Responded to Young’s note late Monday Morning.
“Thanks so much for your quick response to our story. Let’s start by saying we stand by the story. I suggest you revisit the issue with Laura Kopelson. I’m sending you her complete note to me as of Friday in which she sent me the title of the report as well as what she described to me as the methodology. I’m also attaching my bio so you may become acquainted with the range of my work.
Further, I have a couple of questions for you.
1. Was the report leaked? You didn’t deny in your note that it was leaked, and only said Ms. Kopelson said it was not leaked (which she did say).
2. GAO Inspector General Frances Garcia sent me the following note this morning: “Mr. Young, has addressed your concerns by separate email. The OIG is closing this case.”
3. In light of Garcia’s note, what case? Had the Inspector General opened an investigation of the matter?
4, Finally, I have the following curious note from a prominent anti slaughter advocate. Please respond to it. “I asked Terry (lead investigator) if he would speak at the IEC on his report a month ago and got no response. I then asked him again this week when it would be out and he did not answer.” I find this unusual because of the loud bragging we’ve seen from pro-slaughter advocates regarding their close working relationship with the GAO investigators.
5. What is your best estimate of the release date since you appear to deny knowledge of the date Kopelson released to me. I might ad that I vigorously asked her to release the report to me prior to that date since she had already confirmed to me the report had been leaked. She again insisted that June 22, 2011 was the release date and the report would not be released before then.
In the interest of full disclosure, Horseback Magazine has not taken a position against horse slaughter; however, we have taken a very strong position against use of the captive bolt gun in killing horses as opposed to other animals where it is used in the slaughter process.
The GAO has not responded.

No comments:

Post a Comment