December 17, 2017

SAM Sets Record Straight

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*Editor’s Note* – Below I have posted an article found on the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s (SAM) Facebook page. SAM’s director, David Trahan, expresses his concern for the need to clarify certain statements made by former SAM director George Smith, in his article in the Bangor Daily News, i.e. Anti-Bear Hunters’ Lawsuit Fizzles at the Maine Supreme Court.

I have heard and read several comments about differences and issues between George Smith and SAM. Many of those comments are about what some perceive as Smith’s improper usage of claims to his previous leadership role at SAM. I think that it is unfair for anyone to think that a person should be censored from informing his readers of his previous positions. For those who read Smith, they should know that he is proud of his accomplishments while at SAM. Not all agree that his accomplishments were always in the best interest of Maine sportsmen but that is not a reason to deny a person from recalling his work and position while executive director of SAM. Let the readers decide for themselves. If Smith is intentionally trying to mislead readers to think he is still a person of authority within the SAM organization, then that is wrong and should be corrected.

According to the new executive director, David Trahan, Smith made inaccurate statements in an article written in the Bangor Daily News. It is common practice to use the Media to clarify such mistakes. This is represented by the setting straight of the record listed below.

In addition to the divide between Smith and SAM, I’m also hearing that there is bickering among the Maine sportsmen over exactly how the sportsmen should proceed in dealing with efforts to resist lawsuits and ballot referendums that are opposed to hunting, trapping, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. As of yet, I see no “bickering.” I see a learning curve – the same learning curve that I’ve witnessed in many states across the nation. What transpires and how the posturing and building of resources manifests itself into the near future, will determine a united front or a divided front.

With posturing for power and control, always come disagreements. Politics creates strange bedfellows. The will to succeed, to stop the onslaught against a way of life, needs to be strong enough to rationally work through differences, keeping the focus on the bigger picture.

Can it happen? Let’s hope.

From the SAM Facebook page:

Important-Please read and share

SAM Statement-George Smith’s Blog-Setting the Record Straight

On February 11, 2016, George Smith blogged this piece: Anti-bear hunters’ Lawsuit Fizzles at the Maine Supreme Court, in which he made false and inaccurate statements about the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and our role in the pending lawsuit. In addition, by not allowing our organization an opportunity to present our concerns about the MWCC before writing his one sided blog gave readers an unflattering impression of our organization as well as, mischaracterized our absence from the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council. In the future, we would ask him to follow the basic and professional journalism principles of presenting all facts, before writing blogs that reflect poorly on any organization.

Updated-Statement

Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine statement regarding the MWCC:

We have fielded several calls from people confused by the George Smith Blog about the pending HSUS lawsuit (Anti-bear Hunters’ Lawsuit Fizzles at the Maine Supreme Court) and the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council’s role, as well as SAM’s absence from this organization.

As you all know, the outdoor community won a major victory when we defeated the bear referendum a little over a year ago. In response to the grave threat from the Humane Society of the United States, SAM worked with several of our outdoor partners, including the Maine Professional Guides Association (MPGA), the Maine Trapper’s Association (MTA), the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), and others to create the Ballot Question Committee titled “The Maine Wildlife Conservation Council (MWCC).” SAM was responsible for completing the IRS paperwork and registering the MWCC with the Maine Ethic’s Commission. Our staff completed the necessary forms to establish the committee, created an independent Employer ID Number (EIN), and helped establish the name: Maine Wildlife Conservation Council.

When the lawsuit was filed by HSUS, SAM was fully involved in the MWCC and during that time, we raised money from SAM members that later paid bills related to the lawsuit. After the referendum was defeated, SAM agreed to release the remaining MWCC funds (several thousand dollars), and those funds were used to pay the lawyers involved in defending the lawsuit. Smith’s statement about SAM not helping with the lawsuit is completely false!

After the referendum was successfully defeated, we had a fundamental difference of opinion/disagreement with the MPGA, MTA and USSA organizations regarding whether it was necessary to continue raising money for the MWCC, as SAM is already an established organization that defends the rights of Sportsmen and Women in our state. The SAM Board felt that a continuation of the MWCC as envisioned by the MPGA, the MTA, and the USSA would be a duplication of SAM’s efforts, and the cost of hiring additional staff for MWCC would consume too many resources.

In addition, we were told by USSA’s representatives that because of the HSUS lawsuit, they would have over $100,000.00 in new legal fees and they expected the new MWCC to pay them. Given that USSA was acting as intervenors and IF&W was actually defended by the Attorney General’s Office we questioned the need to pay lawyers for work that was already being done by the AG’s office.

At that time, MWCC was proposing hiring two staffers and expenses that combined, totaled nearly $2000.00 per week, (over $100,000.00 per year) and their intention to pay anticipated additional legal fees of over $100,000.00. SAM’s priority at the time was passing a Constitutional Amendment to stop these attacks once and for all, and saving money for any new referendum that might come forward. We were also concerned that contributors to MWCC were not aware that the new MWCC was planning to use most of the money raised from contributors to pay these new legal fees and staff.

SAM’s Alternative Proposal to the MWCC Plan – Flatly Rejected

What is unknown to the public is that SAM offered our partners an alternative that would have allowed us and many other groups to participate in the MWCC or an alternative group. The alternative we proposed would have allowed each organization equal representation on an Outdoor Council, would have retained staff on a very limited basis, and used existing staff to raise money and place it in rainy day funds. The proposal as it was sent to the current MWCC leadership is at the end of this statement. The current MWCC leadership rejected this SAM proposal and decided to move forward without SAM. We will not speak to their motives, they can address why they didn’t want to accept our compromise.

Since we were unable to come to a consensus with these organizations, the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council and SAM parted ways and have continued to work together at the Legislature. Many people correctly viewed SAM as one of the key leaders of the MWCC during the referendum fight, and since very few people are aware of the fact that the MWCC is no longer associated with SAM, we want to clarify the relationship. We also feel it is important that people donating money understand who they are donating to, and how those donations will be spent.

SAM Concerns are Reflected in New MWCC Ethics Report

? According to the MWCC 2015 Campaign Finance Report, filed in January, 2016 the MWCC has raised around $120,000.00 and spent nearly $100,000.00. According to Don Kleiner, MPGA Director and leader of the MWCC, they also have an outstanding legal bill of $30,000.00. This is the link to the report:
https://secure.mainecampaignfinance.com/…/FilingAmendmentSe…
There are many Guides, sportsmen, businesses and others that want to raise money to protect hunting in the future; SAM does as well. We would gladly support an effort that uses our resources wisely and efficiently. To Accomplish this goal, we have created our own defense fund called the Friends of Maine Sportsmen and will continue to raise money for a future battle without a huge overhead.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine remains ready to face any future referendum battles, and we are committed to working with all of our partner organizations. We appreciate all of the support we continue to receive from clubs, our members, and the public, and hope this explanation clarifies our position. Any questions should be sent to: David Trahan David.Trahan@SportsmansAllianceofMaine.org
This SAM proposal, (below) was presented to the current leaders of the MWCC just after the referendum and they rejected it.

SAM Proposal Moving Forward-Council of Outdoor Leaders

Priority-One

Hold a meeting of coalition leaders to determine whether there is support to create an entity whose sole purpose is to prepare for the next referendum or other significant threats that if successful could affect all outdoor groups. The next step would be to agree to the basic outline of the new entity, mission and structure.

Priority-Two

If it is decided to create the new entity, each organization would choose a representative and a non-profit would be formed whose role was to raise money each year and in rare cases, expend resources on issues like referendums. They would agree to a meeting schedule, (twice a year or as necessary).

Priority-Three

Each organization, represented in the non-profit would create a rainy day fund specifically designed to pay for referendums or other unique circumstances. The goal would be for each organization to commit to raising $5000 (or an amount determined by the coalition) per year for 5 years. Each account would remain under the control of the organizations, (SAM, Bow hunters, etc.). Best case scenario, within five years, each organization would have a dedicated rainy day fund for referendums. If the coalition had five members, there would be $125,000.00 in reserve held by each organization. Each year, at one of the two annual meetings, each organization would report on their fund status.

Non-Profit Role

The new non-profit would meet twice a year and their role would be simple, create a fund that accepted money to defend us against the next referendum and write by-laws to guide the new non-profit. They would create a fundraising plan with a set, yearly target determined by the leaders. For example, if they determined $50,000 per year was the goal, (or an amount determined by the coalition) within 5 years the non-profit would be in possession of $250,000.00.

In total, the member organizations would hold $125,000 in reserve and the non-profit, $250,000, for a combined total of $375,000. This amount would be easier to reach if the coalition was larger than 5 participant organizations. Pretty good start on the next referendum campaign.

I could see the non-profit hiring someone for limited work organizing fundraising activity like a summer fundraising event, (for example, golf tournament), I could also see this person responsible for calling the two yearly meetings and put together a communications plan for the non-profit members, if not, SAM can perform this role.

Below is the Structure Plan:

Non-profit-Leadership Structure-Financial Goals Five Members or More-Goal- Raise $50,000 per year-5 year plan-$250,000.00 kept in trust.

Organizational Outline

Council of Outdoor Leaders

• At least five organizations, preferably 10.
• Fundraising Goal in the Rainy Day Funds–$2,500.00-$5000.00 each year, per organization

• 5-year goal-$125,000.00.

Membership

Organizations choose representatives to serve on non-profit.
All utilization of non-profit resources would be decision of the non-profit representatives on a case by case basis and super-majority vote.
By-laws could be written to state: if the non-profit is dissolved all funds would be dispersed equally among coalition members.

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