A New Low: Lawmakers Target Undercover Investigators for Harassment

Earlier this year, Maine governor Paul LePage ominously called on state lawmakers to go after undercover animal cruelty investigators.

After yet another undercover investigation exposed horrific abuse and food safety risks at an egg farm in his state, LePage chose to ignore the growing calls for better farmed animal welfare laws—even though the facility’s owner, disgraced egg baron Jack DeCoster, is a “habitual violator” with a long rap sheet of environmental, worker safety, and animal welfare violations. DeCoster currently faces jail time for his role in a major salmonella outbreak.

LePage bizarrely demanded legislation that would let officials publish the personal information of the “political operatives” who exposed the abuse in the first place. For LePage, the real injustice was that these brave individuals were able to come forward and expose illegal and unethical practices without fear of potential abuse and harassment.

Now some unscrupulous lawmakers are following through: Late last week, state representative Jeffrey Timberlake introduced LD 1446, a bill that would amend the state’s whistleblower protection laws to exempt undercover animal protection advocates who inform state officials about illegal cruelty and neglect on factory farms. This would let state officials put investigators’ safety at risk by sharing their names and identifying information.

If lawmakers are trying to intimidate groups like Mercy For Animals into silence by threatening the safety of our brave investigators, it’s unconscionable and unconstitutional, and it won’t work.

After MFA’s investigator went undercover at the DeCoster facility in 2009 and discovered a horror show of extreme confinement, neglect, and overt abuse, the egg factory farm pleaded guilty to 10 counts of animal cruelty and paid $130,000 in fines and restitution. MFA will keep advocating on behalf of the countless cruelly confined hens who suffer at DeCoster’s operation, which is now run by Hillandale Farms, the largest egg producer in New England.

See what an MFA investigator found at Maine’s most notorious factory farm.

For his part, Governor LePage has a long track record of anti-animal policies. He’s vetoed bills to crack down on puppy mills and to temporarily restrict animal ownership after malicious animal cruelty convictions, and intervened against efforts to stop the cruelest forms of bear hunting. The fact that he disagrees with our mission to protect the most vulnerable animals-those raised for food—comes as no surprise.

That’s why we need you to take action on behalf of Maine’s abused hens by simply leaving eggs off your plate. Please visit ChooseVeg.com to learn how.