Safari Club International

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Safari Club International (SCI) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for big game trophy hunters. According to its website, it does this by “protecting the freedom to hunt and protecting wildlife conservation worldwide.” SCI claims approximately 200 chapters, representing all 50 U.S. states and 106 other countries.

The organization consists of three separate entities: Safari Club International, the Safari Club International Foundation, and the Safari Club International PAC (SCI-PAC). These entities are incorporated in Arizona.

SCI is associated with the Super PAC “Hunter Defense Fund,” sometimes referred to as the “Hunter Action Fund.” The vast majority of the money for the Hunter Defense Fund comes from SCI and the SCI Foundation.

SCI Executives and Directors (as of 2016)

  • Philip Delone, CEO
  • Nathan Bolt, CFO
  • Elizabeth Grimes, Director of Conventions and Events
  • Anna Seidman, Director of Litigation
  • Doug Burdin, Senior Litigation Counsel
  • Nita Mackley, Director of Membership Services
  • Stephen Comus, Director of Publications
  • Angela Sagi, Advertising Sales Director
  • Martin Gerich, IT Director
  • Wayne E Pocius, Past President
  • Merle Shepard, Past President
  • Richard Ursem, Past President
  • Norden Van Horne, Past President
  • John Whipple, Past President
  • Douglas Yajko, Past President
  • Jack Beal, Past President
  • Peter Horn, Past President
  • Jack Leeds, Past President
  • Don Morgan, Past President
  • Philip Ripepi, Past President
  • Dennis Anderson, Past President
  • George Banks, Past President
  • Gary Bogner, Past President
  • Ralph Cunningham, Past President – Ex-Chairman, Tetra Technologies Inc
  • Lawrence Katz, Past President
  • John R Monson, Past President
  • Mike Rogers Sr, Past President
  • Mike Simpson, Past President
  • Ron Bartels, Director-at-Large – Managing Director, Eagle Energy Services LLC
  • Chuck Bazzy, Director-at-Large
  • Donald E Black, Director-at-Large
  • J Virginia Byrum, Director-at-Large
  • Ed Curits, Director-at-Large
  • Michael Drewnowski, Director-at-Large
  • Gary Gearhart, Director-at-Large
  • Steve Greenwell, Director-at-Large
  • Larry Johns, Director-at-Large
  • Ronald Lanford, Director-at-Large
  • Michael Leonard, Director-at-Large
  • Sven Lindquist, Director-at-Large
  • Tom Mattusch, Director-at-Large
  • Lee Murray, Director-at-Large
  • Bill S Swan Jr, Director-at-Large
  • Scott Swasey, Director-at-Large
  • Gary H Tennison, Director-at-Large
  • Lew Webb, Director-at-Large
  • Don Adams, International Director
  • Abigail Day, International Director
  • Uberto D'Entreves, International Director
  • Zsolt Kohalmi, International Director
  • Danield H Mulholland, International Director
  • Emilio Paris, International Director
  • Herb Atkinson, Regional Representative
  • Deborah Barrett, Regional Representative
  • James Stony Bing, Regional Representative
  • Bobby Boido, Regional Representative
  • Randall Bush, Regional Representative
  • Cal Campbell Sr, Regional Representative
  • Gordon Cashin, Regional Representative
  • Wayne Edward Clark, Regional Representative
  • Mike Crawford, Regional Representative
  • Barbara Creelman, Regional Representative
  • Troy Davis, Regional Representative
  • Donald Detwiler, Regional Representative
  • EJ Deubler III, Regional Representative
  • John Fidler, Regional Representative
  • Richard L Gotshall, Regional Representative
  • Mike Hagen, Regional Representative
  • Ray Hammond, Regional Representative
  • Orville G Hudspeth, Regional Representative
  • Mark D Johnson, Regional Representative
  • John-Mark Jurak, Regional Representative
  • Robert J Keicher, Regional Representative
  • Jeff Keim, Regional Representative
  • Jens Kjaer Knudsen, Regional Representative
  • WT Skip Leake, Regional Representative
  • Jose Maria Loa Reverte, Regional Representative
  • Jeffrey L Meyerl, Regional Representative
  • Mile Ohlmann, Regional Representative
  • Neal Porter, Regional Representative
  • Malcolm Scott Powell, Regional Representative
  • Mark Donald Robinson, Regional Representative
  • J Thomas Saldias, Regional Representative
  • Jeff Sizemore, Regional Representative
  • John Stohlman, Regional Representative
  • J Scott A Talbot, Regional Representative
  • Hubert Thummler, Regional Representativ
  • Norbert Ullmann, Regional Representative
  • Charmaine Wargolet, Regional Representative
  • Jon Wemple, Regional Representative
  • Mary Lynn West, Regional Representative
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Safari Club International programs use the term conservation loosely, with a focus on conserving animals for hunting purposes. SCI lobbies for bills that decrease species protections under the Endangered Species Act, and reduce federal oversight for species conservation on federal lands. SCI aims to lower species’ conservation status in the Endangered Species Act, to allow them to be hunted. Other issues SCI lobbies for are reducing hunting regulation (including bills that restrict the creation of protected areas) and decreasing regulations for civilian firearms.

SCI engages in litigation on behalf of hunters. According to its website, it is currently engaged in 16 cases of litigation. Some of these cases are lawsuits, while others are interventions into other court cases. SCI submits briefs in support or opposition of ongoing cases.

In 2013, SCI repeatedly opposed the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s “threatened” listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken, despite its own admission that the listing would not significantly affect its members. It has litigated against protections for the Greater Sage Grouse and the New England Cottontail, positions that run counter to other sportsmen’s groups but are beneficial for industry.

Safari Club International Connections to Oil & Gas Companies

SCI is partially financed by the oil & gas industry, and takes positions that align with the oil lobby. Some of SCI’s board members are executives at fossil fuel companies who have vested interests in the conservation fights that SCI has involved itself in. This includes Ralph Cunningham, a known oil and gas veteran.

Through its Political Action Committees, SCI accepts direct contributions from people and firms in the oil & gas industry including Tim Wigley and representatives from Conoco Phillips, Chesapeake Energy, and the Saudi Arabian Oil Company. Wigley, who has been called an “astroturf mastermind,” was the executive vice president of Pac/West Communications from 2002 to 2011, and president of the Western Energy Alliance from 2012 to 2016.

According to financial disclosure documents, SCI has contracted with Ogilvy Government Relations and Crossroads Strategies, two lobbying firms with deep connections to the fossil fuel industry.

SCI Lobbying ACTIVITY

In 2016, SCI lobbied a number of bills that lowered restrictions on hunting and fishing on federal lands, such as the SHARE act and Energy Policy Modernization Act. It lobbied for looser regulations on the movement of animal parts (such as polar bear trophies) in and out of the U.S., and appropriations bills for the Department of the Interior and related agencies.

In 2017, SCI is lobbying in support of the Sportsmen’s Act (S.733). This will open federal land to hunting and fishing. SCI lobbied in support of House Joint Resolution 40, which rolled back Obama-era gun regulations, and S33, which increases requirements for creating Marine National Monuments. Both bills are sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a proponent of the oil industry who has sponsored pro-hunting bills in the past.

SCI has also advocated for state autonomy regarding ESA protections, and for increasing the amount of supporting evidence needed to list a species as endangered.

Safari Club International and Melissa Simpson

Revolving-door lobbyist Melissa Simpson is a key link between SCI and the fossil fuel industry. Simpson is an avid hunter and former SCI Director of Government Affairs & Science-Based Conservation. In 2017, Simpson was appointed Special Assistant to Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, which is her second appointment at the DOI. She has also worked at the Department of Agriculture.

Before her stint at SCI, Simpson worked at Pac/West Communications, where she was Vice President of Policy and Regulatory Affairs. Pac/West Communications is a PR firm notorious for its ties to the oil and gas industry and for funding astroturf front groups. According to leaked documents, Simpson was hired in 2009 by the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (now known as the Western Energy Alliance) to “advocate on behalf of industry” to a number of regulatory agencies.

Safari Club International and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Many of the bills that SCI has lobbied for have been sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a senator with a history of ties to the oil and gas industry. It has also expressed support for Murkowski’s bills on its blog. Sen. Murkowski was the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources in 2017.

Donations to Cory Gardner

In 2014, the Hunter Defense Fund donated $85,495 to Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). It spent an additional $63,504 attacking Gardner’s Coloradan opponent, Mark Udall. Gardner is a staunch supporter of the shale gas industry and takes campaign funds from Koch Industries, Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck, Anadarko Petroleum, and Noble Energy.

SCI Contractor: Crossroads Strategies

Between 2011 and 2015, SCI spent $915,284 on services from Crossroads Strategies, a public relations and lobbying firm. Crossroads has many other clients, including Koch Industries and Valero Energy.

SCI Contractor: Brownstein Farber Hyatt & Schreck

In 2014, the Safari Club International Foundation paid $185,738 to the corporate law and lobbying firm Brownstein Farber Hyatt & Schreck. In 2011, BHFS co-chaired the Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). David Bernhardt, a revolving door lobbyist with links to the energy industry and the Department of Interior, was a partner at BHFS for multiple years.