Nov 14, 2012 8:22 PM by Zach Thaxton

Salazar apologizes for threatening to punch Gazette reporter

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar formally apologized Wednesday for threatening to "punch out" a reporter for the Gazette during an Election Day confrontation in Fountain.  The incident was recorded on both video and audio and went viral in social media Tuesday.

Salazar directly called reporter Dave Phillips and then sent a letter of apology, saying, in part, "I apologize and regret the statement I made to you in Fountain, CO. I also will be happy to speak with you offlcially on the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program."

Phillips had asked Salazar about the sale of some 1,700 Federally-protected wild horses to Tom Davis, a livestock hauler from La Jara who has publicly declared his advocacy of horse slaughter.  Salazar appeared irritated by Phillips' question, which had nothing to do with the get-out-the-vote event for President Obama that Salazar was there for.  "I think there is an investigation under way about what is happening there, but I don't know exactly what is going on," Salazar replied.  "Let me just say that there are huge issues with wild horses and mustangs on the public domain."

The incident was captured on video by Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of Colorado Springs-based The Cloud Foundation and filmmaker for the popular "Cloud" series of specials on wild horses for PBS' "Nature" program.  "Tom Davis is a known killer/buyer and that should've been known to the BLM if they had done any background check on him at all," Kathrens said.

The Bureau of Land Management says they are investigating whether the horses purchased by Davis at the bargain-basement price of $10 per head were shipped out of state for slaughter.  Their whereabouts remain unaccounted for.  "We're taking the allegations that they may have been taken to Mexican slaughterhouses seriously," said Tom Gorey, Senior Public Affairs Specialist with the BLM.  "Anybody that is found to have violated the law should be held accountable," Gorey continued in a written statement.  The investigation is being conducted by an independent officer of the Inspector General and the Department of the Interior.


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