Skip to content

Rep. Yoho - Misled by Whitfield or Misleading His Colleagues?

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has voted unanimously to recommend the House Committee on Ethics further investigate Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY).  Whitfield’s wife, Connie Harriman-Whitfield is a lobbyist for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, an arm of the Humane Society of the United States.  The ethics inquiry centers around her lobbying of Congressman Whitfield on HSUS bills and using his office to lobby other Members of Congress.

A key to HSUS and Whitfield’s support for the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act was Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).  Yoho met with members of the Walking Horse industry in February 2014 along with Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) and Whitfield.  Yoho assured industry representatives that if the HSUS had anything to do with the PAST Act he would not be sponsoring the bill.  Yoho, a veterinarian, assured them that it was an industry and veterinarian supported bill.

However, in information released as part of the OCE ethics inquiry, emails document that Yoho either knew of HSUS and Connie Harriman-Whitfield’s involvement or she purposely misled Congressman Yoho about her employment or involvement with HSUS.  In an email on October 19, 2013 to her colleagues at HSUS, Harriman-Whitfield writes:

“I think HSUS can put this over the top but only by targeting certain members.  To pass this in the House we need at least 50 more Republican co-sponsors.  Sadly, HSUS is anathema to the majority of them.  Example:  we have a good shot of getting the Republican Study Group (RSG)( app’x 50 extreme conservative members) to support the bill.  Yoho, who is one of them, has prepared a video to show the RSG.  And I have prepared a Dear Colleague letter for Yoho.  BUT*****Yoho told Cong Whitfield and me that the HSUS is evil because “They want to give ALL animals the exact same rights that humans have.”  He HATES HSUS.  If we allow him to sway the RSG, however, the bill is assured of passage.  That is the delicate tightrope we walk.”

She went on to reiterate her and Rep. Whitfield’s misleading strategy to gain Republican support.  “With Republicans, Ed and I emphasize that it is an industry-backed bill…we don’t even mention animal welfare groups.”

During the OCE’s questioning of Mrs. Whitfield, her answer didn't match the email exchange regarding her involvement with Congressman Yoho.  When they asked about the meeting she and Congressman Whitfield had with Congressman Yoho, she answered, “Yoho was saying to Ed, we have to pass this, because otherwise the Humane Society is going to be all over us, and did you know the Humane Society wants animals to have the same rights that humans have, I am standing there listening to this, and that – and he – that’s why I know that part.  And he told Ed about the video he had prepared.  I never prepared a direct (sic) colleague letter for Yoho.

Despite repeated attempts to speak with the Congressman regarding Harriman-Whitfield’s statement that she prepared his dear colleague letter, Congressman Yoho chose not to comment.  Communications Director, Brian Kaveney would only state that Connie Whitfield didn’t prepare the dear colleague but that the Congressman’s staff prepared it.  

Congressman Yoho’s staff requested questions be submitted in email form, but after reading those questions chose not to comment on any other question besides the author of the dear colleague letter.  The Congressman would not comment on whether he knew of the HSUS involvement at the February meeting when he stated it was not an HSUS bill despite his correspondence with HSUS about the bill four months prior.

Ironically, the stated purpose of the Republican Study Group is the following:

“The Republican Study Committee is a group of House Republicans organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives. The Republican Study Committee is dedicated to a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government, a strong national defense, the protection of individual and property rights, and the preservation of traditional family values.”  

Congressman Yoho is a member of the Republican Study Group.  The PAST Act, of which Congressman Yoho is a co-sponsor and staunch supporter, would turn complete regulation and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to the federal government and eliminate the current industry self-regulatory system that works with federal government oversight.  This would seem to be in direct contradiction to the stated goal of the Republican Study Group.

The Congressman nor his office would release the video he prepared and despite assuring WHR they would send the dear colleague letter, the letter has not been sent.  The RSG was contacted but did not respond to inquiries from Walking Horse Report.

More Stories

  • Walking In The Smokies stall deadline approaching

    The Walking In The Smokies Horse Show, scheduled for April 8-10, 2021, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is preparing for their first annual show and would like to send a reminder to anyone needing stalls that the deadline is March 15. Please contact Lexi Stinnett at 828-550-8520 to reserve stalls on the show grounds. Read More
  • Trainers' Show announces judges

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association National Trainers’ Show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. March 18-20, 2021. Judges for the three-day event will be Wayne Dean, Newton Parks and Johnny Puckett. Read More
  • USDA prepares for 2021 show season

    The USDA recently conducted their virtual HIO training course for the 2021 show season. The USDA and industry recently received the final report from the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and some of the recommendations in that report are communicated in the new processes the USDA will implement in 2021... Read More
  • WHOA hosts virtual awards ceremony

    On Saturday. February 20th, the Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) held their National High Point awards for 2020 on their WHOA Facebook page with winners who chose to be zooming in to accept their awards... Read More
  • WHOA to host virtual awards ceremony on February 20

    The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) will recognize their award winners from the 2020 show season during a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, February 20, 2021. The show will be broadcast live on WHOA’s Facebook page beginning at 6 pm central time. Read More
  • FAST Spring Showcase announces judging panel

    The FAST Spring Showcase is pleased to announce that John Fikes, Newton Parks and Sam Sorrell will judge this years’ two-day event. The show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. April 16-17, 2021... Read More
  • Obituary – Kimberly Woods

    Kimberly Lynn Woods, age 47 departed this life on Sunday, February 14, 2021 at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky... Read More
  • WHAA annual barn party rescheduled due to inclement weather

    There will be a lot of great items to auction as well as breeding fees to some of the top stallions in the industry and training fees for many of the top trainers. Everyone is encouraged to bring your young horses to preview for the upcoming show season. Read More
  • Birth Announcement – William Jackson Bauer

    Dr. & Mrs. Will  Bauer of Gainesville, Georgia welcomed their first child, William Jackson Bauer, on December 4, 2020. Jack weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces at birth... Read More
  • Equine Obituary – Master's Razzle and Jazz

    The Walking Horse Community and the Alan Riddley Family lost Master’s Razzle And Jazz, the reigning 2020 World Grand Champion, on Friday, February 5, 2021, due to complications of colic. Master’s Razzle And Jazz, affectionately known as “Lurch”, will forever be remembered by his gentle ways, powerful gait and his eye-catching presence. Read More