26 Jan 2009, 2:41pm
Deer, Elk, Bison Homo sapiens Wolves
by admin

Secret Meetings, Wolves, Missing Money, and the Next Possible Director of US Fish and Wildlife Service

By Jim Beers, Wolfbites, January 25, 2009 [here]

Many years ago, my mother once observed at the dinner table “you can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep”. The wisdom of that observation has grown in my mind with the passing of the years. It is my belief that it applies even to Presidents as in “you can tell a lot about a President by the appointments they make”.

Amidst the recent picture of CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta’s daughter being hugged by Hugo Chavez to the grinning delight of Daniel Ortega; the radical animal rights agenda of the new Chief of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; the spectacle of a Secretary of State whose husband has collected and will continue to collect millions of dollars from Middle East tyrants; and a Treasury Secretary who not only evaded paying substantial taxes for years but was specifically paid money by his employer to pay those taxes: comes a disturbing rumor that should concern every American.

In the late 1990’s the US Fish and Wildlife Service tried to force me to retire and when I wouldn’t they embarked on a hideous campaign to destroy my reputation, harass my family, and make me unemployable. There was no official reason for this because it could not be defended publicly. In fact, it was because of the secret alliance of the then US Fish and Wildlife Service Director and extremist environmental groups and radical animal rights groups.

I had been working for several years here, in Canada, and in Europe to defend the authority of State Fish and Wildlife agencies to administer trapping programs and for American businesses to buy and sell fur and fur products in the face of European Union bureaucrats efforts (on behalf of American/International extremist environmental and radical animal rights organizations) to ban all fur and fur products from Europe that was then the world’s largest buyer of furs. When the US Trade Representative and State Department delegations (of which I was usually the sole fur management and use advocate) prevailed and caused the EU bureaucrats to back down, the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service was secretly furious because she had been promising her new “secret friends” that we would not be successful. I say “secret” because at that time USFWS was publicly cultivating the fiction that they represented the management and use of fish and wildlife and not the radical agendas of the groups that now control them.

I will not bore you with the ten months I spent at home fighting the FWS, or telling you about the time the police were called to be on the lookout for me since they were going to fire me and I might be violent, or envelopes of official notifications left surreptitiously in my front door on a Sunday morning, or the written threats to cancel my retirement for 5 years and my health insurance as a government employee forever, or about the employees that literally jumped off elevators and ran up “down” escalators to avoid being “seen with Beers”, or about the financial settlement (your taxes) that I finally accepted THAT FORBID ME FROM SPEAKING OF ANY OF THESE THINGS FOR THREE YEARS under penalty of forfeiting all funds, or the mental impact of being forced out of a career in my prime; no I have written and spoken extensively about these things and you can find much of it on the internet. What I want to speak of here is what happened during the 10 months I was told by a Department of the Interior lawyer (they prefer the title “solicitor”) to “stay home and go fishing”.

President Clinton was in the White House and the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives. I was a ready-made partisan tool and a rare experienced employee with insider knowledge being abused publicly; so I was asked to explain what was going on to some staff members of the Resources Committee which controlled FWS funding. In the course of my explanation of my work with trapping I mentioned that in my capacity as a wildlife biologist responsible for excise taxes collected on arms and ammunition and fishing tackle that had been earmarked for state fish and wildlife programs (hunting and fishing) for many decades there was seemingly a growing amount of such funds ($4-500 Million per year) disappearing in Washington and therefore not available for the intended state hunting and fishing programs.

Congress told FWS almost immediately to provide the financial records of all the excise taxes collected and disbursed for the previous two years. FWS belatedly responded by sending up to Congress 19 tall boxes of computer printouts with ALL USFWS FUNDING collections and expenditures for the previous two years. They then lied to Congress that it was impossible to separate out the excise taxes from all the other funding and (I was told secretly) got a big laugh out of how Congress would never be able to figure out anything from all those printouts.

You cannot begin to realize how true that was when you consider all the “Base” funding, and “New” funding, and grants, and “refuge” funding, and restricted Law enforcement funding that goes to refuges, and environmental funding, and fisheries funding, and cost-sharing, and fund-sharing with other federal agencies and Universities, and Endangered Species funding, and Marine Mammal funding, etc., etc. plus the excise taxes and other funds shared with or appropriated to state program. Add in that all these funds have restrictions on who gets them and what they can (and cannot) be used for. Then add in that each employee reports hours of work under this funding and that funding and that bonuses are awarded from funds with all these restrictions and you begin to have a glimmer of what so amused FWS managers that were (it turned out) protecting the Director and others from a financial scandal of gargantuan proportions.

Long story short: I volunteered during my ten-month banishment to “go fishing”, to fish in those computer records for Congressional staff for any indication of what happened to the excise taxes during those two years. It took several weeks of long days but my old budget experience as a “budget analyst”, and as “Operations Chief of National Wildlife Refuges”, and as the Program Administration Chief for the Environment Program plus several yellow magic markers and red pens and I had the flow identified. Congress called in the GAO (General ACCOUNTING Office - now sadly renamed the General Accountability Office for hiring non-accountants and others in a lowered auditing mission) and the rest is, as they say, history. I met with the accountants several times and they finally issued a report (before my exile was terminated with the above mentioned settlement) that showed (among other misallocations) $45 TO $60 MILLION THAT WAS INTENDED FOR STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE PROGRAMS HAD BEEN “KEPT” BY FWS AND USED (among other things) to




Note that #’s 1. and 2. above had been DENIED funding by Congress previously.

There were three packed and tumultuous hearings before the House Committee. At one the Director simply didn’t show up as requested so the Chairman cancelled the hearing and demanded her there the following week. At another, Representative Helen Chenoweth of Idaho, God Bless her and may she Rest In Peace, asked the Director (who had just said that her lawyer had advised her that she could use that money however she wanted) if the Committee might not be able to ask her (the Director) to help fund the “Star Wars” Program that the Democrats were opposing in Congress. That not only brought the “house down” it capped the acknowledgement that the money had indeed been stolen and used to fund things disregarding both law and regulation.

As a result there were plans to audit the California office but they were abandoned when the child of a powerful politician was transferred to that office. Wolves were by then “out of the bottle” and there was no hope to put them back in. The bonuses had already been spent by employee-managers that had no role in their ill-begotten source. The Director was by then at the close of her administration as President Clinton was about to be replaced by someone else. The biggest shock and disappointment was the failure of the State Fish and Wildlife Agencies to demand the replacement of the funding identified in the two years and to demand audits of previous years TO IDENTIFY AND REPLACE ALL THE MILLION STOLEN FROM STATE HUNTING AND FISHING PROGRAMS TO SAY NOTHING OF THE HUNTERS AND FISHERMEN THEY REPUTEDLY “REPRESENT”.

The State Fish and Wildlife Agencies and their powerful Washington Lobby Organization opted instead to remain silent and get a percentage of future funding allocated to their Washington Lobby Office where it is controlled not only for lobbying (federal funds for “lobbying??) but even more importantly it is KEPT OUTSIDE STATE AUDITORS AND STATE LEGISLATORS AND GOVERNORS PURVIEW by not having to “pass through” State budgets before being sent to the Washington lobbyists. In other words the State Agency Directors have control of it unfettered by State (you and me) controls through our elected officials. PLUS, by not “rocking the boat” the State Fish and Wildlife employees and Directors endeared themselves to the politicians and environmental/animal rights Pooh-Bahs that they (the State F&W folks) believe will be running things after they eliminate hunting, fishing, trapping, and the management of plants and animal for people. PLUS, the absent State officials were already getting all manner of federal funds through FWS (Endangered Species, EIS funding, Marine Mammal, “Research”, etc. and angering federal overseers in FWS was not recommended in the class on “How To Get Every Federal Dollar Due You And/Or Available”.

Last but not least, the statutorily required audits of State fish and wildlife agencies every 5 years mandated to continue receiving the excise taxes had fallen into abandonment. State agencies, rightly fearful that honest and renewed audits by FWS would find all manner of diversions of the funding in the states — thus angering FWS overseers instead of “partnering” with them, determined that silencew was in “everyone’s (except hunters and fishermen’s) best interest. Note: In fact the eventually renewed audits found over $120 Million in misused funding in the states: so the auditors were fired and the misused funding “massaged” over time to insignificance by the new auditors employed by USFWS - THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL who is also responsible for oversight of USFWS!

This rerun of an old saga has a point. The Assistant to the Director of FWS for those two years when the money disappeared and the fellow that oversaw my travails was Dan Ashe. He was previously a Democrat staff person on a House Committee (Merchant Marine and Fisheries) that was dissolved just after the Republicans (Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America) took control of the House in 1994. Shortly thereafter he turned up one day in the Directorate of the US Fish and Wildlife Service as an Assistant Director in charge of (among other things) the excise tax disbursements to the State fish and Wildlife Agencies. Philosophically (and in fact he attended most of the “secret” meetings between the Director and the radical organizations about me and the trapping issue) he like the Director was hesitant to show any public problem with my strong support of State fish and wildlife management, State programs, and particularly trapping and fur use.

I was even told one day at the Office of the US Trade Representative that, unbeknownst to me, Mr. Ashe had contacted the White House about the possibility of an Executive Order banning trapping on all federal lands in case the environmental/animal rights crowd went ballistic if the European fur market was kept open. There is more but you get the picture.

Now there is a strong rumor (even “up” here in subzero Minnesota) that Mr. Ashe is being considered for Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. That could be true. Or the current President might well nominate and the current Congress might well confirm Ingrid Newkirk of PETA or Peter Singer of Princeton for the job.

So in a “spirit of cooperation” and in an attempt to “cooperate and not be partisan” I hereby suggest the following questions for any confirmation hearing. Now I suppose the number of Representatives and Senators that would stand up to the current political tsunami covering Washington is nil. My only hope is that one Senator and one Representative that is either not seeking a lifetime career job or who discovers that he or she is actually a Vertebrate animal might actually say something in earshot of one media person that is not too busy writing platitudinous pulp to take note and possibly mention it to the public. The Questions:

Mr. Ashe:

1. What was your role in the millions of dollars that were diverted from the Federal Aid Funds during the 1990’s?

2. Why were those funds not replaced in the State fish and wildlife agencies budgets?

3. Who was held responsible for the diversion of the $45 to 60 Million as identified by the GAO audit? Was anyone held accountable? How?

4. On what basis were the diverted funds used to introduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park and to open an office that Congress had likewise refused to authorize?

5. Who made the decision to transfer Beth Stevens to the California office shortly after the source of funding for that office was made public?

6. What role did you play in the reportedly missing email messages that would that were destroyed which would have implicated Jamie Clark in the Federal Aid diversion of excise taxes that were intended for State fish and wildlife programs?

7. You were responsible for a number of audits of the state use of the PR and DJ excise taxes since the mid 1990’s that found that over a hundred million dollars were being diverted by State agencies and State politicians. Why were only a small portion of these dollars recovered?

8. Do you believe that Congressional authority under the Constitution precludes the redirection of federal funds by federal employees as was the case in the established $45 to 60 Million identified in the GAO audit? What should be done when this legal responsibility is violated?

9. How do you understand your degree in Oceanography meets the statutory requirement for being the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service?

In the spirit of “hope” I will leave this at that. There are many more questions that could be asked but whether any will be asked or answered must be left to the integrity of a whole bunch of politicians, bureaucrats, and advocates that have spent a decade denigrating me and what I write about this scandal. So if anyone out there knows “someone” tell him or her about this and ask for consideration. Given the mania for “cooperation” and the blind acceptance of any nominee today, I am not “hopeful”.

“The company they keep”, does indeed tell us a lot.



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