National head of Humane Society calls for Bevin to quit Senate race

Candidate maintains he didn't speak at cockfighting rally

By Kevin Wheatley, Published:

The president of The Humane Society of the United States’ Legislative Fund has called for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin to withdraw from the race Thursday after he spoke at a pro-cockfighting rally last weekend in Corbin.

Bevin reiterated his stance that Saturday’s event at The Arena in Corbin was a states’ rights rally in an interview with 84WHAS radio Thursday. He said he’s “never been to a cockfight, don’t condone cockfighting,” and there were no roosters present at the event. 

He did not hear other speakers at the rally, he said, adding he supports attendees’ constitutional right to “gather and talk about whatever they want to talk about.”

“Apparently there were enthusiasts of cockfighting who were at this as well,” Bevin said in the interview. “I was asked to speak to a states’ rights rally.

“… It’s just so much nonsense. The reality is I’m running for statewide office. I’m not there to condone what other people believe or don’t believe at all.”

A Facebook post from David Devereaux, of the American Gamefowl Defense Network that sponsored the meeting, contradicts Bevin’s stance that Saturday’s event was a states’ rights rally, saying the gathering was held “for the purpose of unifying and uniting gamefowl enthusiasts around the principle of using the democratic process to change the law, not break the law.” 

A statement from Michael Markarian, president of The Humane Society of the United States’ Legislative Fund, includes two advertisements for the event, which make no mention of states’ rights while calling for the legalization of cockfighting, which is illegal nationally and a Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky. 

One ad features the iconic finger-pointing Uncle Sam calling “cockfighters and liberty activists” to attend to “legalize liberty” and “legalize cockfighting.” Craig Davis, a former state House candidate and Bevin supporter, is featured in both ads and listed as the meeting’s organizer in one. 

“There’s no hidden purpose here: Organized criminals want to repeal Kentucky’s already weak anti-cockfighting statute,” Markarian said in the statement. “We have plenty of evidence that they are brazenly breaking the law, strapping razor-sharp knives and ice pick-like gaffs to the legs of roosters, throwing them into a pit and forcing them to hack each other to pieces — just so they can shout out bets and be titillated by the violence and bloodletting.”

Bevin’s campaign spokeswoman, Rachel Semmel, did not return messages from The State Journal seeking comment Wednesday or Thursday.

Bevin seeks to unseat U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the May 20 GOP primary, but speaking at the pro-cockfighting rally “probably works against him in the grander scheme” in his bid against McConnell, Scott Lasley, a Western Kentucky University political science professor and chairman of the Republican Party of Warren County, told The State Journal Wednesday.

The federal Farm Bill recently signed into law includes a provision punishing spectators who attend cockfights. Markarian said the Farm Bill earned support from congressmen and women of both parties, including McConnell, and politicians and society in general have largely ignored the “small and active group of cockfighters” still in operation.

“Matt Bevin showed appalling judgment in associating himself with this band of lawbreakers and perpetrators of unspeakable animal cruelty,” Markarian said. “He’s brought discredit upon the state of Kentucky, and he should withdraw from the Senate race.”

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  • Nephie, April 4, 2014 8:27PM

    "Bodeen...Men are natural born fighters also but do we allow men to fight now?"

    Yes, we do allow them to fight, publicly at that! Nationally televised MMA fights are not men/women dancing with each other, but this is acceptable? When the MMA first started it was an underground sport because of the brutality, but now look at it... It's regulated and quite popular among millions all over the world. I respect that you have an opinion that differs from mine. You are free to feel this way without reprocussions, however I would appreciate the same respect. I have seen gamefowl get loose from tie cords and beat each other to death with their natural spurs (without human interation). "

    Nephie makes Bodeens point very well...that human beings are the kings of bloodsport and that rooster fightin' is that by proxy.  But Nephie offeres a strawman argument to counter Bodeen's thoughtful and poignant rendition of his family's history with fightin' roosters...one which a few members of my family shared back in the day.  Nobody on here is saying that streetfighting in a cage is cool, but Nephie uses it anyway to make exactly the opposite point intended. In the not too distant past, there were slaves who fought to the death in a pit for the entertainment of white men.

    It is time to pretend that humans are civilized, but it really isn't going to happen as long as we consider all other animals as food...and then we even literally eat each other upon occasion.  It is all part of the darker side that dwells within us all...even our God (don't take my word for it, go watch Noah).

  • Nephie my comment wasn't an attack on your views! It was based on my first hand knowledge of this sport. I didn't mean that we didn't allow men to fight but meant that we do not allow them to use weapons to kill. It would be fair to say that swords would be equal to the steel spurs that are used. We do not allow it and in MMA fights, they are not in the ring to fight to death. I meant no disrespect but something like this cannot be cast in a view that it isn't no big deal. Animals or not, death is death and no sport should be based on a fatal outcome. Thanks.

  • "Bodeen...Men are natural born fighters also but do we allow men to fight now?"

    Yes, we do allow them to fight, publicly at that! Nationally televised MMA fights are not men/women dancing with each other, but this is acceptable? When the MMA first started it was an underground sport because of the brutality, but now look at it... It's regulated and quite popular among millions all over the world. I respect that you have an opinion that differs from mine. You are free to feel this way without reprocussions, however I would appreciate the same respect. I have seen gamefowl get loose from tie cords and beat each other to death with their natural spurs (without human interation).  

  • I want to chime in on this to try and give people more info than what they think they know. My family heritage goes 8 generation deep here in Franklin County on my fathers side and 9 generations deep in Eastern Kentucky on my mothers side. I have often told personal stories about my family that I am not proud of but yet to hide certain things may not be good to others. I've spent a lot of time growing up all over the mountains visiting family for most of my school breaks. I have been to a lot of **** fights and have bet on lots of them in my younger years. I am not proud to say any of this but what I did when I was young doesn't represent who I am today. I have family who made their living off game fowls because they think there is nothing wrong with it. If anybody claims that strapping on razor sharp knives to a rooster is natural then they are wrong. Yes some breeds are natural born fighters and will fight any rooster put in front of them without much provoking. Right before two roosters fight in a game pit, the handlers will fling the roosters towards eachother several times and let them peck the other to get them to fight. I have seen roosters get stabbed over a hundred times during one fight by those razor sharp steel spurs that are tied on them. I have seen roosters get stabbed in the eyes and through the heads and seen many violent deaths from this so called sport.

    I am ashamed that I ever attended these events and certainly wouldn't nowadays. What a lot of folks do not know is it is a very popular sport even in todays times although hidden. They are weekly fights right here in this county, anderson county, mercer, scott, woodford, bourbon and all the way east, west, north and south. We have people in elective offices right here in Franklin County that secretly approves this sport. We have people in congress that approves it. I've heard one official here say one time that on a regular farm they face certain death, in a pit, they have a fighting chance. I am not going to name names but want to let people know that lots of people in power approves this secretely and I know in years past, attended fights. This is the most brutal sport I've ever seen and nobody can tell me it is natural when they have to use weapons to cause quick death. I will challenge anybody that thinks nothing is wrong with this to let a rooster stab their hand one time with those razor sharp spurs and then see just how much pain a rooster goes through in this sport when it gets stabbed dozens if not hundreds of times. You cannot compare this law to how certain other things were illegal at one time like alcohol or marijuana. That is just stupid to compare it people standing up to change those laws. We do not live in an age anymore where this can be OKed. Believe it or not, Men are natural born fighters also but do we allow men to fight now? less alone, use knives!

    Nephie you may have close friends who enjoys this and you sided with their views on it but I actually have family that did this and their views are just obscurred. It isn't natural and it is wrong. You should rethink your views. As far as Blevins go, he is a politician.

  • Nephie, April 4, 2014 9:49AM

    "I am completely disgusted by the Humane Society's ability to publicly threaten United States Senate Candidate Bevins. First off, the meeting in Corbin was not just about pro-cockfighting as many of the journalist reporting on it has stated."

    Ol' Nephie is right, the meeting was more of a Klan/Teabagger get together and plot against minorities and Jews than anything else.  They just had cockfightin' as the entertainment afterwards and then went out looking to kill some Mexicans.  This a a real fun bunch who will do anything for a party!  And Matt Bevin is one of them...fit right in.

    It really gets me how these yahoos try to put a happy face on cockfighting.  Some days I wonder how they keep from draggin all of the skin off of their knuckles just getting around during the day.  Yep, they are just you good ol' garden variety community organizers!

  • Nephie, April 4, 2014 9:49AM

    "I am completely disgusted by the Humane Society's ability to publicly threaten United States Senate Candidate Bevins. First off, the meeting in Corbin was not just about pro-cockfighting as many of the journalist reporting on it has stated."

  • ukfan... Explain to me how allowing to chickens interact in their naturally aggressive state is cruel? It's preservation of the TRUE breed, and its not something you can train or teach. Do some research on the birds before you claim cruelty. They are not a barnyard chicken! As for your comment about volunteering for our armed forces, you have no idea the service men/women involved in the love of gamefowl, some of which date back to wars prior to your birth. Maybe you weren't listening very closely to the TV shows (clearly that is where your mis-information has come from) when the HSUS seizes gamefowl, they immediately euthenize them because of their natural aggressiveness. They throw them in a huge gas chamber and murder all that will fit. They fight with each other in the chamber until the gas takes effect on their body... Some of which live for various lengths of time until they die. I can slice the throat of a chicken and let it flop around for several minutes trying to die as its body bleeds out, still very much so alive, but according to you, I am cruel for allowing them to do what they do in their natural state? Gamefowl live a "King's Life" in comparison to your food source. Visit a slaughter house and then visit my farm... The true definition of cruel is nowhere remotely near how my animals are treated. You sir/madam have been blinded by the ignorance that has infected so many in our country. The commercials are fake! Surely you didn't think activists like the HSUS were just animal lovers without a political agenda?

  • Response from the American Gamefowl Defense Network, 4/4/2014

    HUMANE SOCIETY STATEMENT ABOUT GAMEFOWL LEGALIZATION RALLY IN KENTUCKY IS INACCURATE AND INFLAMMATORY.

    The statement issued by the head of the Humane Society Legislative Fund concerning the political gathering in Corbin Kentucky on March 29, 2014 is completely inflammatory an inaccurate, asserting that individuals that gathered in Corbin are organized criminals because they are exercising their constitutional right to express that they believe a change in the law is appropriate.

    The American Gamefowl Defense Network is a grassroots movement arguing for political change. A cornerstone of the AGDN's philosophy is to change the law, not break the law. Using the democratic process means expressing your views and telling your story to policymakers that can change the law. It happens every day across America. It's one of the things that makes this country great. THE AGDN ENCOURAGES ALL GAMEFOWL ENTHUSIASTS NOT TO VIOLATE STATE OR FEDERAL LAW. People have every right to argue for a change in the law without being accused of being criminals.

    I am not a member of the gamefowl community and I have never been to a cockfight. I have a close friend that has raised gamefowl and now puts his energy into the democratic process to effectuate change the way our system is intended to function. I think it's important to stand up for the underrepresented but no less important. This community is politically unpopular because it has never effectively stood up and told its story.

    Use your energy to change the law, not break the law. Breaking gamefowl fighting laws only delegitimize your credibility because the rule of law is critical to a stable society. But laws sometimes change in order to accommodate history, tradition, economics, and a multitude of other justifications.

    Consider medical marijuana, even recreational marijuana, gambling, and alcohol. All of these things were illegal at the time advocates stood up and used the democratic process to make them legal in various states. Politically organizing to change the law designating something as a legal activity is not organized crime or criminal in any way. It is protected by the 1st Amendment. The AGDN would never accept any donations knowingly derived from any illegal activity and the AGDN has consistently advocated changing the law, not breaking the law.

    Importantly, federal statute anticipates changes in state law and deems them legitimate. The federal statute applicable to gamefowl fighting contains an exemption to accommodate states that legalize the practice as long as no birds in the fighting venture travelled in interstate or foreign commerce. Indeed, at the time the law passed in 2007 three US states and various US Territories had legal gamefowl fighting.

    Having a discussion on the merits of gamefowl policy issues and allowing people to make a decision and exercise their rights to speak and appeal for a change in the status of legality is an indisputable part of a functioning democracy. To label political expression criminal is concerning and outrageous.

  • If you are so eager to see fighting and blood being spilled go enlist and fight for your country. Having dumb animals fight and kill one another is just blood sport. What part of cruel treatment do you not get. As far as the chickens we eat, we kill them to survive and that is the difference. One point I do agree with you on is that we should not be putting these people in jail but fining the heck out of them and take away their fighting chickens.

  • Next thing you guys will be saying is that pit bull fighting is a great sport and everyone should be able to participate. :-(

  • ~~"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office."

    Don't believe that HSUS or affiliated groups have the right to be active in campaign, everyone turns their head when it comes to HSUS. They only donate approx. 1 % of their intake to animal shelters.

  • I am completely disgusted by the Humane Society's ability to publicly threaten United States Senate Candidate Bevins. First off, the meeting in Corbin was not just about pro-cockfighting as many of the journalist reporting on it has stated. It was more about the fact that many Kentuckians or Americans for that matter are sick and tired of the Federal government urinating all over the states' Constitutional rights to govern their own laws. We are getting hit from many aspects of "Big Government" intrusion including the definition of marriage, the right to own and maintain arms, the right to choose, and the list can go on and on. Each state has its own unique group of individuals, and the laws that apply to Texans, Californians, and others may or may not be suitable for the people in Kentucky and vise versa. That's why we choose our laws.  This is what Bevins was voicing at this meeting! He was not there to endorse any aspect of the gamefowl harvesting. He was there to support the fact that he believes EVERY individual in the state of Kentucky should have the right to be HEARD, whether others agree to what they are saying or not.

    Secondly, the gross misconception that everyone who attended the rally was a criminal is disturbing! All walks of life enjoy many different aspects of the gamefowl heritage, including breeding, showing, and harvesting. Individuals who attending are very much so law abiding citizens. Hence the part that you did actually get correct (Change the law, not break the law.) The Humane Society of United States has several CONVICTED CRIMINALS on their payroll, convicted dogfighter Micheal Vick to name one.

    Before you go spewing ignorance about what you think happened at a publically closed meeting, you should make sure you speculations are correct. Since most everyone seems to be on the HSUS bandwagon, here a a few questions you should be asking them... Why is this non-profit organization storing away millions of dollars in off-shore accounts while we have local animal shelters starving for funding? Why are they under investigation for misleading the public about where their money is going too? Why, if you have valid evidence to prove your elephant cruelty case, did you have to pay your "star" witness? The HSUS is nothing more than a fat-cat corporation looking to retire on easy money. Wake up people! Ask them how many animals THEY slaughter each year? Cockers are not drug dealers, dope-heads, drunks, or any of the other derrogatory words they have been called. They are human, real people who work hard every day to support their families without government assistance. They support each other during hardships. They have a love for tradition, heritage, and something that unless you research (with actual research, not HSUS fallacy) you will never understand.

    We eat billions of chickens every year, and we can kill those chickens in pretty much any manor we see fit, but because one chicken fights with another chicken you want to imprison the person that allowed it. If its the money factor you want to look at, here is a few facts for you: The average annual cost per individual inmate in the state of kentucky is $14,603. The average number of inmates the state of KY currently has is 21,347... That's a huge total of $311,730,241 spent to care for and house incarcerated individuals each year in KY, alone. If we arrest every single indiviual in KY that harvest their game-chickens you can add 10,000 (plus) to the number of individuals the state will have to care for. That amount is astounding, and does not include the state cost of families left behind, of those you will incarcerate. Many will be force into public assistance, costing the state more money! Personally, I would rather my tax dollars go to house the murderers, rapists, and child molestors rather than somebody letting a chicken fight with another.

     

  • Stick a fork in him!!!!!!!!!!