Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ~George Orwell
I’ve been working on Wisconsin’s wolf recovery since the year 1999. Then, stepped up into the political arena when the Wisconsin legislature created legislation mandating a wolf hunt. Entering the wolf advocacy political arena has been an eye opener to say the least. It’s been fraught with in fights from Wisconsin’s advocacy, which thankfully, I’m the odd woman out. There’s a story in all this that needs to be told. Exposing the intent to deceive will cause a backlash…
I met Melissa Smith of Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf back in 2012, and worked with her until I found out some news. The following is an account of my experience with Melissa Smith, director of Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf, that led me to pull away from any associations with her. Here’s where the backlash begins.
In April of 2013, I put together an event in Madison to bring advocates together. We viewed the film True Wolf, and politicians were invited along with key scientists, that worked on the wolf recovery program in WI.
One politician who wrote a bill to remove the dogs from the hunt, Senator Fred Risser was invited. He couldn’t make it, but sent his aide to attend in his place.
Melissa Smith had advertised on her website, that she helped Senator Fred Risser write the bill to remove the dogs from the wolf hunt, and even said she knew him well. In fact, she ran for and won a seat on the WI Conservation Congress with that information. So I invited Melissa Smith to set up a booth at the screening as well.
At the event that evening Melissa walked over to me, and Senator Fred Risser’s aide (who was standing at my side) to tell me she had just gotten off the phone with Fred, and that he was going to be there.
I just stared at Melissa in shock. That’s when I discovered that Smith didn’t even know the senator or his aide. I let it go that evening, but contacted the senator’s office the next week. The following email is the response from the senator’s office regarding what Melissa Smith was telling others about her work with the senator:
From: Jurenci, Cassie <Cassie.Jurenci@legis.wisconsin.gov>
Date: Thursday, April 11, 2013
To: Rachel Tilseth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I’ve just sent Ms. Smith an email telling her that we have received numerous contacts asking about her involvement with our office concerning SB 93 and that we have been telling those who ask that she has not been working with us and there is some misrepresentation occurring. I’ll let you know if she responds. Thanks for bringing this to our attention and for reminding us about it.
Office of Senator Fred Risser
Wisconsin State Senate
130 South, State Capitol
After finding that Smith wasn’t part of writing Fred Risser’s SB93 I lost all trust in her. Here’s the irony; was told I must ignore this lie and continue work with her. I did not ignore the lie. I’ve moved on, but felt that this experience needs to be shared, because it wasn’t just one lie, it’s been a long list of half truths.
Then, outright character assassination for revealing the lie began and continues to this day.
In the end, should we just blindly trust someone?