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GOP lawmakers back Fish and Game commissioner who killed cougar

February 29, 2012 | 11:57 am


Eleven Republican state senators came to the defense of embattled Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards on Wednesday after Democratic lawmakers called for him to resign for shooting a mountain lion while on a hunting trip in Idaho.

It is illegal to shoot a mountain lion for sport in California, but the GOP legislators, including Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, said in a letter to the governor that it is unfair to apply this state’s rules to other parts of the country.

"If Mr. Richards is guilty off 'thumbing his nose at California law' as some have purported, how many other residents of the state are guilty of the same by gambling in Nevada, driving 85 mph while in Texas, or even renting a car in any other state that is not up to California’s demanding emissions standards?" asked the letter, signed by Sen. Tom Harman of Huntington Beach, Huff and nine of their colleagues.

Richards said in a defiant letter Tuesday he will not resign. A spokeswoman for Gov. Jerry Brown said the state Constitution prevents the governor from removing a Fish and Game Commission member in the middle of a term. Instead, Richards could be removed by a majority vote of both houses of the state Legislature. Some Democrats are weighing whether to call for such a vote.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) was the latest lawmaker to call for his resignation, saying he had the opportunity to "apologize for his misjudgments. Instead, Commissioner Richards issued a disrespectful, tone-deaf letter that shows he fails to appreciate his role as a public official on the Fish and Game Commission and the consequences of his actions."

The Republican senators said Richards is a conservationist as well as a hunter, and they disputed the notion that the controversy is a distraction for the Legislature. "We believe the opposite is true," the letter said. "What appears to be political-driven theatrics is in fact a greater distraction from the real work that must be done ..."


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: A mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains. Credit:  Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area