Paul Watson’s announcement last summer at AR 2003 that he was just three seats away from controlling the board of the Sierra Club suddenly started getting a lot of media attention in early 2004 as the Sierra Club’s April election deadline comes closer.
The Sierra Club, of course, has a $95 million budget which Watson wants to control in order to push his agenda. According to the Center for Consumer Freedom, Watson said at that time,
One of the reasons that I’m on the, um, the Sierra Club board of directors right now is to try and change it Â… we’re only three directors away from controlling that board. We control one-third of it right now. And, uh, once we get three more directors elected, the Sierra Club will not, no longer be pro-hunting and pro-trapping and we can use the resources of the $95-million-a-year budget to address some of these issues. And the heartening thing about it is that, in the last election, of the 750,000 members of the Sierra Club, only 8 percent of them voted. So, you know, a few hundred, or a few thousand people from the animal rights movement joining the Sierra Club — and making it a point to vote — will change the entire agenda of that organization.
According to Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope, about 18 percent of Sierra Club members fish or hunt, and Pope worries that those individuals would be driven from the organization and that it would end up marginal,
It’s important to have hunters and fisherman in the Sierra Club. We are a big-tent organization. We want the Sierra Club to be a big-tent organization. We want the Sierra Club to be a comfortable place for Americans who want clean air, clean water, and to protect America’s open spaces.
The most amusing commentary on the controversy came from FARM USA’s Alex Hershaft who distributed a letter charging that it was, in fact, the hunters and fisherman who were trying to take over the Sierra Club rather than vice versa. According to Hershaft,
The Sierra Club, with 750,000 members and a $95 million annual budget, is being hijacked by the hunting, trapping, and fishing cadres in the forthcoming Board election. Their leaders have been urging members to join the Sierra Club in droves. We can not do any less.
Hershaft parted ways with reality long ago, so this claim should not surprise anyone.
According to Hershaft the three candidates the animal rights activists want to win are activists Kim McCoy and Robert Roy van de Hoek as well as Cornell University Professor David Pimentel.
Pimentel is part of the other group that is trying to hijack the Sierra Club — an organized effort by right wingers and extreme environmentalists to turn the Sierra Club into an anti-immigration organization. A few years ago this coalition managed to put up to a vote by the members a proposed anti-immigration stance that they wanted the Sierra Club would take, but that failed. Along with Dick Lamm and Frank Morris and promoted by racist web sites like VDARE.Org, the anti-immigration effort has also seen the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Morris Dees enter his name as a candidate for the board in order to protest and highlight the anti-immigration effort.
Keep the Sierra Club Out of Hunters’ Clutches! Letter, Alex Hershaft, January 23, 2004.
Sierra Club: Ever More Radical. Center for Consumer Freedom, September 4, 2003.