Salazar’s Ties to Wild-Horse Buyer Questioned

November 21, 2012

Scott Coffina, a former White House ethics adviser, said any Salazar (right) involvement with the federal sale of wild horses would raise a red flag for investigators

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ken Salazar’s relationship with a Colorado man who worked for his family’s farm and who is under federal investigation for allegedly selling American wild horses to Mexican slaughter houses came under scrutiny this week.

Tommy D. Davis, a livestock  hauler from La Jara and former independent contractor at the Salazar family farm in nearby Manassa, has been the largest single purchaser of wild horses from the federal government since 2009.

All but 36 of Davis’ 1,777 purchases coincide with Salazar’s tenure as Interior secretary, now in its fourth year.

Scott Coffina, a former White House ethics adviser, said Salazar’s involvement if any with the federal sale of wild horses to Davis would raise a red flag for investigators.

“Did he have knowledge of any sales to Davis at all? … Did the fact that he had a previous relationship with Davis affect the decision? … Did Davis get favorable terms or a better deal?” Coffina said in an interview.

When a government official was asked if Salazar signed off on sales to Davis, the official indicated he had not done so.

“Sale approval is done entirely at the level of the Bureau of Land Management wild-horse program — not the Department of the Interior,” the official wrote. The Bureau of Land Management is part of the Interior department, but the official’s statement suggests that BLM officials had no contact with officials in Secretary Salazar’s office.

Coffina said that unless new information about Salazar’s ties to Davis emerged, federal officials are unlikely to examine their relationship or request that Salazar recuse himself from the the Interior department’s internal investigation of Davis’ sales of the animals.

“The fact that he worked for him — Salazar said it was once or twice — I don’t think there’s any recusal required for that … I don’t see the relationship between Davis and Salazar is close enough in terms of benefit to Davis. It’s not clear how long ago he worked on the farm. Salazar has been in D.C. since 2004,” Coffina said, referring to Salazar’s election as a U.S. Senator.

Blake Androff, a Salazar spokesman, noted that the inspector general of the Interior department launched an investigation of Davis’ sales in June. “The Interior department takes the allegations against Mr. Davis very seriously,” he said, “and we look forward to the results of that inquiry. Anybody that is found to have violated the law should be held accountable.”

Davis did not respond to a voice mail left at his home. He told the online publication Pro Publica that “has done quite a bit of trucking” for Salazar, while Salazar’s brother LeRoy told The Observer last week that Davis worked as an independent contractor for the Salazar family farm once or twice.

Salazar said through a department spokesman he has “no recollection of Tom Davis and to his knowledge, has never had any business dealings with him.”

Although Salazar has not said he knew Davis, his relationship if any with his neighbor could emerge as a flashpoint for federal investigators. Coffina said if investigators present evidence that Davis sold the wild horses to slaughter houses, Salazar may need to recuse himself.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

22 Responses to Salazar’s Ties to Wild-Horse Buyer Questioned

  1. Brenda
    November 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Why were horses sold for $ 10.00 a head if Salazar had no part in this . Salazar was looking to get rid of as many wild horse as he could to make room for more horses that he would roundup.

    • celestia
      November 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      All wild horses that have been put up for adoption three times and have not been adopted are sold for $10. The deal with Tom Davis is that the horses he took to slaughter were never even offered for adoption. He also signed a agreement stating that the horses would not be slaughtered. Tom Davis told BLM the horses were going to be put in movies, and rehomed. Any reasonable person should have alarms going off. No body can rehome and adopt out nearly 1800 wild horses. Madiline Pickens has over 1 Million acers of land and she has only 1500 wild horse on it. Where in the hell did the BLM think Tom Davis was going to keep all those horses. I live in Colo. and I am very familar with the area Ken Salazar and Tom Davis are from…believe me everybody in that dinky little area knows each other.

    • Mary Adkins-Matthews
      November 25, 2012 at 12:25 am

      Amen Brenda.. I am with you on that one… it is so obvious but they expect everyone to pretend that we are stupid not knowing what is going on. Fire the Slaughter Czar.. DEMAND the Obama Administration fire this corrupt Secretary and find someone that isn’t just simply a cattle rancher out to hate the AMERICAN MUSTANGS

  2. Solvejg Zaferes
    November 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Salazar should leave office. Salazar should be punnished by selling Wild Horses to Tom Davis. Salazar should be punnished by punching reporters. Salazar should be punnished for lying to the Press. Salazar should be punnished by beeing responsible for the Death of OUR Wild Horses. Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo?????????? Salazar should be in JAIL !!! Amen.

    • Judy G
      March 5, 2013 at 12:48 am

      You are being to polite. They should round up those kill horse buyers, crooked contractors/ranchers/politicians, who are involved, with a helicopter and a lasso and hang them by their you know whats. Then let the buzzards have them. Greedy and corrupt jerks.

  3. Susan White
    November 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    This country should be ashamed at the way it treats its animals, particularly when the government is involved. These wild horses below to the citizens of the United States. Public lands belong to the citizens of the United States and they can’t make room for herds of wild horses? The government is supposed to be working for us, not for Big AG! Cattlemen graze their herds of millions on our land at a measly $1.37 per head per month. I wish I could feed my horses on $1.37 per month. It is time Congress does something about this! But, unfortunatley, they won’t.

    • beveerly
      November 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

      You are so correct, the USA, what a disgrace and we the people cant get anyone to do anything about it, Im hoping OBAMA Is seeing the light on by now……..

      • Judy G
        March 5, 2013 at 12:54 am

        If they don’t get this under control, we will be seeing horse meat in our stores too. I imagine the people in Europe aren’t thinking to highly of this country about now. This horse meat scandal in Europe needs to blow wide open and not be covered up by our government. The guilty parties need to go to jail. Although, nobody is going to jail for anything anymore it seems.

  4. Barbara Major
    November 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    The selling of wild horses for slaughter is a shame. This should not be allowed… is best for them to run free for the future generations to see and enjoy. Too many of our traditions are dissapearing because of greed and love of money….Let the horses be.
    barbara major

    November 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm


  6. Linda
    November 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    All you need to do is cross the border and go to the slaughterhouse. Those mexican men working there will give Davis up in a heartbeat for the right price, just like , for the right price Davis has been buying these beautiful animals and taking them to slaughter, pregnant mares included.
    People that are working at the BLM need to be replaced!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Ramona Earhart
    November 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I refuse to believe that Ken Salazar didnt know about the horses or Davis. The BLM is run by someone as a whole, its quite clear to me the Federal Government has its hand in everything, so to say Ken doesnt know is absurd. The cruelty of the roundups must be accounted for. I want someone to have to account for this crime against the horses the burros and the American people whos votes did not count when we voted to save the horses and burros on their current range lands. This is not just a crime of terrible cruelty against the horses and burros, but how is it ok for the BLM to directly go against the votes of the American people and take these animals from their homelands? How is the Burns Amendment passed against the will of the people? We are not being represented by those people in the white house.

    • Judy G
      March 5, 2013 at 1:06 am

      They need to be managed, but not slaughtered or mistreated in the holding pens. What happened to them using birth control methods? I thought they used to do that. I used to live in Reno and when I read about Nevada allowing horses to be bought by horse killer in the Palomino Valley holding pens, I was appalled. Thumbs down to Governor Sandoval, if he allowed that. I am very disappointed.

  8. Doreen
    November 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I have been writing to the President of the United States about this whole mess about the rounding up of wild horses. They need to be given to Mrs. Madeleine Pickens instead of leaving them in pens for years. I have been reading more and more about this guy buying horses and sending to slaughter. This is disgraceful. They are part of this Country’s heritage and they need to be treated better.

  9. Daryl
    November 24, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    It seems they are passing the buck, like Washington does all the time, some thing better come out of this or we need to start at the top person, more cover ups adn more animals will be rounded up and abused to death, they need help to live free like they are suppose to.
    I am sick to death of all who do so wrong and get away with it ., if it were you and I we would be put away .

  10. judie Stein
    November 24, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Thank you for your insight and setting the information out in a way that even the brain dead will be able to see the pieces of this blemish put together.

  11. Helene Mowka
    November 25, 2012 at 11:09 am

    At this point I am wondering why Salazar still has his position. He should be relieved of it until this affair is settled. He is a liar and a profiteer, who is making money off the slaughter of our Wild Horses. One way or another he is involved and is profiting from these sales. He never would have had to get in that reporters face if he wasn’t guilty of something. Being guilty of nothing does not cause someone to react violently when questioned simply on the substance of the issue. Is President Obama listening to any of this?

    November 25, 2012 at 11:51 am

    This guy makes me SO angry! he is KILLING our wonderful wild horses! and we do nothing to stop him! nor does our president!

  13. Kathy
    November 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Beautifully stated. The description of our government as “morally defunct” is spot on! And I guess that since Salazar says he has no knowledge of dealings with Davis we’re supposed to believe him? I’ve said more than once that everyone involved with the abuse of these animals and their families need to be put in front of a herd, then chase the herd with helicopters. If they can get out of the way, okay. If not, even better.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Complete Colorado
Colorado Peak Politics - Sometimes Unruly. Always Conservative.

Visitor Poll

Should illegal immigrant kids flooding the border be housed in Colorado?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

The Colorado Observer