Animal rights group vows to pester Mitt

Sunday, March 24, 2002

Deseret News

By Brady Snyder
Deseret News staff writer

The leader of an Illinois-based animal rights organization says Olympic chief Mitt Romney can expect some negative publicity from his group during the Massachusetts governor's race.


While the group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), can't become involved in political campaigns because of its tax-exempt status with the federal government, Steve Hindi said his group will be in Massachusetts.

Romney announced his plans to run for the top spot in his home state Tuesday.

Besides informing the public about animal abuse that occurs during rodeos, Hindi said he will let people know about Romney's actions leading up to the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo, held during the 2002 Winter Games as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

"There are a lot of people that care about animals in Massachusetts and all along the East Coast," Hindi said. "We will make them very well aware of Mr. Romney's record here."

The Olympic rodeo drew the ire of many animal rights groups who said rodeos are inherently cruel and compromise Olympic ideals of peace and goodwill.

Before the Games Romney said he would work to eliminate some of the more controversial aspects of the rodeo. However, Romney was unable to persuade the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to bar calf-roping from the event.

Activists, like Hindi, don't believe Romney went far enough and suspect he hoodwinked them about his desire to make the Olympic rodeo more humane.

"He saw something that he thought was wrong and wanted it gone but then he never really forced the issue," Hindi said. "The contract with the PRCA was more important than cruelty to animals."

Romney was not available for comment. While he was president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee Romney did fire two letters to the PRCA asking that calf-roping, tail-pulling and electric prodding be eliminated from the Olympic rodeo.

Letter writing wasn't enough for Hindi, who said the Olympic boss could have been more persuasive.

"Romney demonstrated that ethics and his word are worthless," he said. "I don't think a guy like that should be running anything much less a state."

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