Ethics Complaint Filed Against 7th District Representative Joel Kretz
A group that advocates for public employees has filed an ethics complaint against northeast Washington representative Joel Kretz. Kretz, the Republican Representative from the 7th district, has been cited by the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, as inappropriately pressuring WSU officials to take action against a leading wolf researcher.
PEER has filed an ethics complaint, citing numerous incidents over the past 6 years where Kretz contacted WSU administrators and researchers and issued threats in order to dictate the direction of the schools carnivore research, specifically that of Dr Robert Wielgus.
Adam Carlesco, PEER spokesman , says Kretz’s actions resulted in the University issuing a press release that disavowed Dr Wielgus’s statements concerning a northeast Washington wolf pack, “This essentially served as a character assassination. This was a researcher who was essentially at the top of his game, who was the leading large carnivore researcher in the northwest, who then was given gag orders not to speak to the press, all of his research had to be filtered through administrators, and had been threatened with firing.”
Representative Kretz feels the charges are overblown: “There are no ethical violations, to rise to that level, you’ve got to be doing something that benefits you personally, there’s no way this does. In fact, my efforts have been to bring the two sides together and reach some solutions where we have both a population of wolves and also a viable ranching community so, there are a number of ranching folks that are upset that I would go that far, so I’m getting it from both sides.”
Dr. Wielgus had been critical of ranchers in northeast Washington whose cattle were killed by the Profanity Peak wolf pack, saying that the rancher intentionally released his livestock directly on top of a wolf den site, leading to cattle loss.
Later WSU officials said some of Dr. Wielgus’ statements were both inaccurate and inappropriate.