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Amendment 13 backer calls claim that dog racing ban could threaten hunting ‘outrageous, false’

A backer of the Nov. 6 ballot issue to ban greyhound racing in Florida called an opponent’s statement outrageous, false, and fully-refuted by the Florida Supreme Court after the NRA Political Victory Fund circulated a warning Tuesday that Amendment 13 could one day threaten hunting and fishing rights.

Carey Theil, senior advisor for the Yes on 13 campaign, was replying Tuesday to the alert put out by Marion Hammer, past president of the NRA and executive director of the United Sportsmen of Florida. Her alert to members charged that the amendment’s language declaring “the humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida” could lead “extreme animal rights organizations” to “immediately begin work to ban all hunting and fishing.”

“Those groups even claim that animals shouldn’t be owned as pets because it’s inhumane. In short, Amendment 13 is not really about greyhound racing, it’s a front for much more,” Hammer wrote in her alert to the USF and NRA members and friends mailing list. The alert was then circulated Tuesday by opponents of Amendment 13.

Theil responded that the claims are outrageous, fear-mongering, and false, that the amendment is entirely and exclusively about greyhound racing, and that the Florida Supreme Court has agreed with that after hearing similar assertions in court hearings and filings challenging the amendment this summer.

He said claims such as Hammer’s contention that hunting and fishing were at risk were explicitly refuted earlier this month in the Florida Supreme Court decision to allow Amendment 13 on the ballot, when the court wrote that amendment value provisions such as the one she cited have no force of law.  “Amendment 13’s fundamental value provision is devoid of any legislative or judicial mandate: it bestows no rights, imposes no duties, and does not empower the Legislature to take any action,” the court wrote.

“It’s now clear that opponents of Amendment 13 are incapable of debating the merits of commercial dog racing. In recent days, they have started to circulate a series of falsehoods,” Theil said in a written response.

Jack Corey, spokesman for opponents of Amendment 13, notably the spokesperson for the Florida Greyhound Association, replied that the Supreme Court decision is only the opinion of the current court. He asserted it could be changed after a new court, with new members, takes office.

Corey also said he welcomed support from the NRA or “any organization in the state of Florida.” He also charged that the amendment was being pushed by out-of-state political action committees, largely connected with the Massachusetts group GREY2K USA, for which Theil also serves as executive director.

Amendment 13 backers have made the same charge about the Amendment 13 opponents’ Committee to Support Greyhounds, contending that its chair lives in Texas and its treasurer in North Carolina.

Amendment 13, placed on the ballot by the 2017-’18 Constitution Revision Commission, would outlaw the racing of dogs and wagering on such races. Amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

Corey added that he considered the Supreme Court’s statement to be moot, considering he expects the question to lose in the Nov. 6 ballot.

The proposal also would allow other gambling at tracks, such as card games, to continue even after dog racing ends.

If approved, the amendment takes effect immediately but allows greyhound racing to continue through the end of the year 2020.

In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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