OKLAHOMA CITY––Showing Animals Respect & Kindness, of Chicago, better known as SHARK, on September 22, 2014 posted to web sites undercover video of senior Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Inhofe, 79, hosting a fundraising pigeon shoot 17 days earlier at the Quartz Mountain Lodge in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma.
Inhofe was himself videotaped in the act of shooting at pigeons. Other participants were shown throwing banded captive-raised pigeons into the air to be shot, kicking wounded birds, and throwing them up to be shot again.
The event, billed as Inhofe’s ninth annual “pigeon hunt,” was to benefit “Friends of Jim Inhofe and the Fund For A Conservative Future.”
The Oklahoma City television station KFOR posted links to the eight-minute SHARK video, with coverage by staff reporter Sarah Stewart, at the top of the 10 p.m. news o n September 22. Furious messages from constituents were prominent on Inhofe’s Facebook pages by midnight.
Tipped by Inhofe backer
“On August 7, 2014,” recounted SHARK founder Steve Hindi, “Showing Animals Respect and Kindness received an anonymous letter informing us that Inhofe was to have a live pigeon shoot. The unknown writer claimed to be a Republican and longtime supporter of Senator Inhofe. The writer stated that ‘The live pigeon shoot event is an embarrassment to hunters and to Republican (sic) supporters of Senator Inhofe. Someone, including Senator Inhofe, has apparently decided to push the limits beyond what is reasonable in most anyone’s mind, and I believe it has been done just to provide shock value and show the public that Senator Inhofe is such a hard-core conservative that he will go as far as killing animals for no other reason than shooting practice, which is simply animal cruelty.’”
Hindi told Stewart of KFOR that the unidentified undercover videographer bought a ticket to attend the fundraiser. Hindi, himself a longtime Republican and onetime Republican Congressional candidate, informed Animals 24-7 of the existence of the undercover video on September 14, 2014, but asked that it be kept under embargo until the raw footage of hours of shooting could be edited for presentation to mass media.
“It was just a killing contest, just a blood festival,” Hindi told Stewart. “It’s pretty bad. I mean a thousand pigeons casually blasted for entertainment. It’s just an utter waste of life, an awful lot of suffering.”
In addition to the pigeon shooting itself, the SHARK undercover operative caught Inhofe campaign staffer Gregory Russell Appleton claiming on video that the dead pigeons were being collected to feed to homeless people in nearby Altus, Oklahoma. As Hindi pointed out in a voiceover segment, federal and state law require that meat distributed for human consumption must come from animals killed in licensed slaughterhouses and killed under the supervision of government inspectors.
The SHARK undercover operation also videotaped the presence of a car emblazoned with the name and title of Cherokee Nation principal chief Bill John Baker, Oklahoma game wardens––although captive-bred pigeons are not wildlife––and state police who appeared to be providing security for the event.
Reported Stewart, “We called and e-mailed Inhofe’s office, but did not get a response.”
A former mayor of Tulsa and Oklahoma member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Inhofe has held a U.S. Senate seat since 1994. As chair of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works during the U.S. presidential administration of George W. Bush, 2003-2007, and as ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, Inhofe may be best known for obstructing legislation meant to slow climate change, arguing that global warming is a hoax, pushing for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.
Oil & gas
Inhofe’s biggest campaign funders are associated with the oil and gas industries, but he has also reportedly accepted at least $51,000 in campaign financing from the National Rifle Association during his long career.
Frequently Inhofe has opposed introducing or expanding protection for endangered and threatened species, including polar bears, prairie dogs, sage grouse, and wolves. Inhofe has backed numerous Republican attempts to weaken the Endangered Species Act, and in 2008 assailed what he termed use of the Endangered Species Act on behalf of polar bears to “achieve global warming policy that special interest groups cannot otherwise achieve through the legislative process.”
In 2006 Inhofe won passage of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, extending to animal industry workers the provisions of the 1982 Animal Enterprise Protection Act, which covered only property. As originally drafted, AETA appeared to present a significant risk to the civil liberties of animal advocates. As amended prior to passage by California Senator Diane Feinstein, however, it is chiefly a consolidated sentencing act, and does not criminalize anything that was not already a crime.
SHARK founder Hindi, ironically, was among the few people prominent in animal protection who spoke in favor of AETA. “I read the bill carefully,” Hindi said, “and since everything we do is legal,” albeit often tactically aggressive, “I don’t see where any of it applies to SHARK.”
In January 2014 Inhofe tried to amend the Farm Bill to repeal a provision prohibiting the USDA from inspecting horses slaughtered for human consumption.