Ethics Charges Overshadow the Commission Meeting and Threaten Credibility

Ethics Charges follow commissioner Sutton

firstforhuntersbirdhunteranddogA complaint request was filed with the attorney general in December by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) for an investigation into possible conflict of interest on the part of Michael Sutton, President of the California Fish and Game Commission. After being appointed to the Commission in 2007, Mr. Sutton accepted a position as Executive Director with Audubon California and Vice President of Pacific Flyway (co-sponsors of the lead ban), and in his capacity as President of the Commission he would be implementing the regulations. The request asked the California Attorney General to open an investigation into whether Mr. Sutton has violated any state laws or policies concerning his private and public positions. The Attorney General responded in mid-February, declining the request for an investigation. In February at the Commission meeting, Kathy publicly requested that Commissioner Sutton recuse himself; Mr. Sutton responded with “No Comment.”

Another request for investigation into possible conflict of interest was sent to the Senate Legislative Ethics Committee. NSSF’s attorneys also sent a letter to the Commission on August 5th filing a formal complaint against Commissioner Sutton. It will be posted on the Commission website prior to the October 8th Commission meeting. Kathy Lynch again brought up the topic of Ethics at the August 6th Fish and Game Commission meeting. [Agenda Item #30 (Public Forum) – She read an excerpt from the Governor’s Incompatible Activities Statement and requested that the Commissioner recuse himself. (Meeting Video, 7:33:14 timestamp*) Commissioner Sutton made no comment during this complaint.

*Please Note: Instructions for Accessing Video clips are available at the bottom of this Alert.

Call to Action

We call upon all California SCI members to weigh in with the Commission on this issue. Mr. Sutton needs to step down as President of the Commission – he has an obvious conflict of interest.

ALL California SCI Members SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CONTACT THE Fish and Game Commission and strongly recommend that Commissioner Sutton step down. Choose a Method of contact from the options below:

1) E-Mail:

2) Phone Number:  916-653-4899

3) FAX Number: 916-653-5040

4) Mailing Address:

California Fish and Game Commission

P.O. Box 944209

Sacramento, CA 94244-2090



Fish and Game Commission Meeting, August 6, 2014

The Fish and Game Commission met on August 6, 2014 in San Diego. Here is a link to the agenda. Agenda items and action of particular interest include:

Agenda Item #2 (findings for the gray wolf decision) will be deferred to the next Commission business meeting on October 8, 2014.

Coyote Contest Proposal Rescinded

Agenda Item #10 (discussion and possible action regarding offering inducements for hunting contests) – Draft Initial Statement of Reasons, Draft Economic Impact Assessment

Request to set aside authorization to publish notice of Commission intent to establish a prohibition on inducements for predator hunting contests, tournaments or derbies. The action was rescinded.

Request for authorization to publish notice of Commission intent to amend regulations regarding the prohibition on inducements for nongame and furbearer hunting contests. This was approved, and new amendments will be posted on the Commission website.

Ammunition Industry Will Present the FACTS on Non-Lead Ammunition Cost and Availability

Agenda Item #25(G) (Wildlife Resources Committee) – There was a discussion concerning the Wildlife Resources Committee’ next agenda. Kathy Lynch presented an opportunity for the Commission to hear from the ammunition industry on the cost and availability of nonlead ammunition for hunting in California per AB 711 (Chapter 742, Statutes of 2013). This was agreed upon and scheduled for September 17 (Meeting Agenda, Item #5). (Meeting Video, 6:19:50 timestamp)

SCI Petitions the Commission for Formal Rules and Public Access—Scores a Victory!

firstforhuntershunteronridge1Agenda Item #25(I) (New Business) – Kathy Lynch introduced the SCI letter requesting Transparency, Structure and Fairness in the Operations of the California Wildlife Resources Committee. (Meeting Video, 6:46:04 timestamp – Please see the meeting video for this discussion.) NSSF and the National Rifle Association also sent formal letters to the Commission stating their concerns about the WRC.  Since January SCI has been publicly requesting that the Wildlife Resources Committee (WRC) operate with more transparency and to provide more opportunities for the public to participate remotely.

SCI additionally made a Public Records Act Request on the predator management issue as part of the concern with how the Commission was functioning. I am pleased to report that there was agreement at this Commission meeting to allow staff to work with petitioners, which include SCI, NRA and NSSF to make recommendations for policies and procedures for the WRC at the next Commission meeting in October. This is a positive development for us, and we will be meeting with Commission staff in the near future to continue these discussions.

Formal Petition Process Recommended for the Commission

In addition, the Executive Officer of the Commission indicated they will be formalizing their (petition) process to have a more structured requirement to petition the Commission. Attention was brought to this issue with the (informal) petition by HSUS and Project Coyote when they brought forward their predator management policy request for action. This remains pending at the WRC and extremely controversial.

Nonlead Ammunition Regulations – Update

The Commission is discussing the implementation of AB 711 (Rendon) Hunting: nonlead ammunition (Chapter 742, Statutes of 2013). AB 711 has until July 1, 2019 to be implemented.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife held/will hold several workshops on this issue in July and August: July 19 in Redding, July 29 in Sacramento, August 5 in San Diego, August 12 in Fresno, and August 19 in Rancho Cucamonga. A Department representative detailed a proposed plan for implementation at this workshop; the presentation is available on the Department website.

The ammunition industry will be presenting on the cost and availability of nonlead ammunition at the September 17th Wildlife Resources Committee meeting.

HSUS Gets Special Treatment on the Commission Agenda

Agenda Item # 29 (Presentation on the History of Lead Ammunition Concerns by the HSUS) – This was followed by remarks from Kathy Lynch concerning Commission ethics and fairness.

This item was placed on the Commission agenda by Commissioner Sutton when he pulled lead from the WRC to the full Commission agenda at the request of his employer (the Audubon Society), Defenders of Wildlife and HSUS, all co-sponsors of the legislation. The opponents cried “Foul” and “Conflict.” As an employee of the Audubon Society who co-sponsored the lead ban, Commissioner Sutton appeared more like an advocate advancing his agenda than the President of the Commission overseeing the resources of California.

This item elicited a very heated discussion between commissioners, and the conflict with Commissioner Sutton was glaring in the comments raised during discussion of this item. Watch this segment to see what is happening at the people’s commission. (Meeting Video: Preface by Commissioner Sutton, 7:45:50 timestamp; Presentation, 7:47:15 timestamp; Remarks by Kathy Lynch, 8:04:10 timestamp)

Proposed Changes in Waterfowl and upland bird Regulations

The Fish and Game Commission has announced proposed changes to the following regulations

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations – The notice, proposed language and additional information are available on the Commission website.

Upland Game Bird Hunting Regulations – The notice, proposed language and additional information are available on the Commission website.

Big Game Management Account Grant Process

The California Legislature created the Big Game Management Account in 2010 to make sure that funds provided by hunters through the purchase of big-game tags are used in programs/ projects that will benefit big game species (bighorn sheep, bear, deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, and wild pigs). A Big Game Public Advisory Committee was created to review project proposals/budgets and provide recommendations on those as well as other issues relevant to the big-game executive leadership team. The Big Game Grants Program (BGGP) will solicit proposals annually that will help meet goals that (1) guarantee that populations of big game species will exist in perpetuity for their intrinsic value, (2) provide hunting opportunity, and (3) provide other public uses. The Fiscal Year 2014-15 Proposal Request has been posted on the Department website, announcing the availability of $750,000 of Account funds available for projects valued between $10,000 and $200,000.


SB 53 – Mandatory Ammunition Buyer Registration Legislation

Positioned for August Vote in Legislature

SCI Strongly Opposes SB 53

SB 53 (de Leon) Ammunition: purchase permits would require that anyone who purchases ammunition, with some exceptions, first be authorized by the State Department of Justice to do so. A fee would be charged for the authorization which requires passage of a background check. Authorization would be valid for two years after which it would have to be renewed.

This would apply to all ammunition and would reinstate the following provisions of law that were previously enacted but did not take effect because of a court ruling that the definition of handgun ammunition used was unconstitutionally vague: 1) Ammunition sales could only be made in a “face to face” transaction, thus making internet and mail order ammunition sales illegal; 2) The vendor would have to record personal information about the purchaser, including obtaining a signature and thumbprint, and 3) The brand, type, and amount of ammunition purchased would be recorded for each transaction. The purchaser would then be checked by the Department of Justice to determine if he or she is prohibited from owning firearms and ammunition.

SB 53 would apply to all ammunition (rifle, shotgun, and handgun), including hunting ammunition. Ammunition offered for sale could not be on display in a location that is accessible to customers without the assistance of the vendor or a vendor employee.

Ammunition vendors would have to obtain an ammunition vendor license from the Department of Justice.

Call to Action


1) Governor Jerry Brown: Phone: 916-445-2841; FAX: 916-558-3160. To send an e-mail:



LOCATE your Assembly Member and Senator by your Address/Zipcode: Please go on line and enter in your browser. Enter your street address, city and zip code in the boxes above the map of California; click on “Locate”. Your legislators and their contact information will then become available.

This bill will be taken up this month for a final vote in the Assembly and Senate. Please make your calls, faxes and/or e-mails immediately and let your elected officials know that you oppose this bill!


September 17              Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, Sacramento, CA (Meeting Agenda) –

Presentation from the ammunition industry on the cost/availability of nonlead

ammunition for hunting in California per AB 711 (Agenda, Item #5)

October 8        Fish and Game Commission Meeting, Mount Shasta, CA

October 9        Joint Meeting with Oregon Fish and Wildlife, Central Point, OR

December 3     Fish and Game Commission Meeting, Los Angeles, CA


The California Fish and Game Commission currently includes five members:

Michael Sutton, President – his term began on May 4, 2007; his current term expires on January 15, 2015

Jack Baylis, Vice-President – his term began on September 29, 2010 and expires on January 15, 2016

Richard B. Rogers, Member – his term expired on January 15, 2011; he can serve until the governor makes a new appointment

Jim Kellogg, Member – his term began on January 1, 2002; his current term expires on January 15, 2018. Mr. Kellogg was recently reconfirmed by the Senate.

Jacque Hostler-Carmesin – Ms. Hostler-Carmesin was appointed on June 4, 2013 and her term expires on January 15, 2019. She passed her confirmation hearing on April 30, 2014 in the Senate Rules Committee by a 4-0 vote. Kathy Lynch testified for her during the hearing. Jacqueline Hostler-Carmesin was confirmed on May 15, 2014 by the Senate, 36-0. We supported her confirmation.

*Instructions for Accessing Video Clips from the Fish and Game Commission August 6th video:

1) Click on Meeting Video.

2) Find August 6, 2014 meeting in right hand column; Click on “Complete,” under

“Video” (third column)

3) When video begins to play, move bar near bottom of screen to the required timestamp;

(Numbers will appear as you slide the bar across the page)


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