Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar is a powerful man who answers directly to President Barack Obama. He’s a former United States senator and attorney general for our state.
One might expect Salazar to act like a grown-up, if not a seasoned attorney and ranking employee of the president, when politely and professionally interviewed by a reporter. That expectation, it turns out, would be too high.
The Gazette’s Dave Philipps, a respected author and Pulitzer Prize finalist, tried to get answers from Salazar when the secretary visited Fountain on Nov. 6 to campaign for Obama. Philipps wanted to know about Tom Davis, a Colorado man who advocates horse slaughter. Davis, who has business ties to Salazar, has bought hundreds of federally protected wild horses from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management. The fate of the horses remains unknown and The Gazette will continue trying to determine what happened to them. It is our job to find out whether these horses are alive and well or if they’ve been turned into glue.
Uncomfortable with the questions, Salazar approached Philipps, pushed The Gazette’s video camera aside, and placed himself within inches of the reporter’s face. Pointing at Philipps, Salazar said:
“Don’t you ever. You know what, you do that again... I’ll punch you out.”
Don’t even think about it. Salazar has already crossed a line by threatening bodily harm to a man who was merely doing his job. Carry out such a threat and he’ll find himself behind bars without a job or political future. We can only imagine what would happen if a journalist threatened physical harm to a member of the president’s cabinet.
After threatening Philipps, Salazar lectured him about a need to avoid policy questions while he stumped for Obama. Philipps explained that he attempted to contact Salazar, through proper channels on several occasions, to no avail.
Salazar’s threat makes the average observer wonder just what the secretary may be hiding. It makes the horse mystery a higher priority, and not just for us.
Salazar’s disturbing behavior almost puts him in a league with former State Rep. Douglas Bruce, who in 2008 kicked a journalist who tried to photograph him during a legislative prayer. Politically, Bruce never recovered. That’s because Americans do not want men and women in power to threaten, harm or bully those who try to keep politicians in check on behalf of the governed.
Salazar’s threat became a national story Tuesday, and the secretary’s office issued a statement: “The Secretary regrets the exchange.”
Not good enough, Secretary Salazar. Anyone would “regret” making a threat that is caught on tape. At the very least, Salazar owes Philipps a heartfelt and written apology. Additionally, we ask that he consent to an in-depth, recorded interview about the wild horses in question and his connections to the man who bought them. Our readers deserve the truth.
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