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Too Rich for Words-Part II PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Tuesday, 01 May 2007
AFF Sentinel Vol.4#13

Who Really Knew?

We've been examining - by department - a few of the myriad examples of R-CALF conflict, irony, confusion and paranoia. Remember, this group purported to know the one true way for "reforming" the "live cattle" industry.

Information and quotes come from, the R-CALF expos? site containing reams of e-mails, news releases and official documents from R-CALF officers, members and staff.

Irony Department
"This R-CALF, one of divisiveness, manipulation and greed ..." It was ironic that should use one of R- CALF's favorite words - manipulation - to describe the machinations within their group. R-CALF frequently refers to U.S. cattle markets as being "manipulated" by unseen hands. And, of course, they feel it is the greedy, "multinational packers" who are the unseen hands, with mainstream cattle groups the pawns.

But while no evidence has been found to document manipulation of the markets in decades of hunting, and other sources have certainly documented manipulation or misrepresentation of R-CALF financial reporting. And the only question about the misrepresentation of membership numbers is whether it was deliberate manipulation or just incompetence. Either way, the membership numbers appear to have been publicly inflated by 50 percent, maybe even more (11,600 vs. 18,000 claimed). They're not sure.

Double-talk Department
A couple weeks after The Coup, R-CALF convened a public regional meeting in Rapid City (2/23/07). According to the Rapid City Journal, R-CALF member Shana Baisch called on the remnant board to resign to make way for new elections and a new board. Thornsberry replied that the remaining board members were elected by their districts and had a responsibility to stay on the job.

On March 1, Director Dennis McDonald pleaded with the remaining board members to allow the resigned members to return, along with the D.C. staff and committee chairmen, to try to put the organization back together. Instead, the board voted to start removal proceedings against McDonald, despite the fact that he had been duly elected by his district and had a responsibility to represent them. McDonald noted that would result in all founding members being purged from R-CALF's board.

Conflict Department
In a letter from Kiker to Bullard in September 2006, Kiker said: "Your views of Leo [McDonnell] and your attitude toward his ideas ... are a little disturbing. If Leo McDonnell is the enemy then we are really in trouble. I do know there have been a lot more phone calls and arm twistings than what you've discussed ..."

Bullard replied, in part, "Leo is in no way an enemy of R-CALF. Leo had a different view of how this litigation should be handled from the outset ..."

A very curious argument to be having about your founder. If they have such a hard time categorizing Leo McDonnell, maybe that explains why they have a hard time figuring out who the industry's customers are. Packers and fast-food chains, for example, baffle them no end.

After Dennis McDonald was slated by the remnant board for removal, his resignation letter claimed a "concerted effort to rid the organization of Leo McDonnell, myself and others" began over a year ago. He also referred to the exchange of letters between Bullard and Kiker discussing the "inherent conflict" between Bullard and McDonnell worsening in 2006. How could an "inherent conflict" exist between the founder of an organization and the employee hired by the founder-led board to serve the organization?

That Leo McDonnell should be discussed as a possible enemy is like the enviros debating whether Algore is their friend or the Teamsters discussing whether Jimmy Hoffa is friend or foe.

Conflict Department
The Web site introduction rued that R-CALF was near an evolution from a litigating organization to a lobbying organization that sometimes litigated.

Hello - the group's name includes the words "Action Legal Fund." Litigation should not have been a big surprise. But it does make one wonder how many people joined R- CALF not to sue people but as a haven for contrarians or a holding company for splinter groups.

But shows the underlying philosophy is the same: that it is "necessary to change the politics and policies that keep the independent producer beholden to the packers and the importers."

(This spectacular quote is the subject of another AFF Sentinel.)

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 May 2007 )
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