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KY Tea Party candidate wants states to decide whether cocks should fight to death for sport

By Travis Gettys
Friday, April 4, 2014 6:47 EDT
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Matt Bevin speaks to Now this is News (screen grab)
 
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Matt Bevin, the Tea Party-backed challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), took part Saturday in a rally to support the legalization of cockfighting in Kentucky.

The event’s organizer said the Corbin, Ky., event’s sole purpose was to gain support for legislation to legalize cockfighting in Kentucky, but a spokeswoman for Bevin was a bit more sanguine.

“It was not a cockfighting rally, it was a states’ rights rally,” said campaign spokeswoman Rachel Semmel.

About 700 people attended the weekend rally, organized by “gamefowl enthusiasts” who want voters to decide whether people should be legally allowed to force two game birds to be outfitted with sharpened spurs, tossed into a ring, and fight to the death as spectators gamble on their lives.

The birds’ owners sometimes suck blood from an injured cock’s throat and lungs to allow them to keep fighting, said a spokesman for the Humane Society.

“The movement is about changing the law, not breaking the law,” said David Devereaux, director of the American Gamefowl Defense Network.

Cockfighting is currently illegal in all 50 states and carries felony penalties in 41.

Bevin has not taken a position on cockfighting, although is spokeswoman said the Republican candidate believes the issue should be left up to states to decide.

The candidate also told a Louisville radio station Thursday that the Founding Fathers had engaged in both cockfighting and dog fighting.

“This isn’t something new, it wasn’t invented in Kentucky, for example, I mean, the Founding Fathers were all – many of them – very actively involved in this and always have been,” Bevin said.

Craig Davis, president of the Gamefowl Breeders Association, said states’ rights were discussed at the event, but he said “cockfighting was definitely a part of it.”

Bevin’s attendance was likely a last-ditch effort to boost his primary challenge.

The Louisville businessman is running far behind the well-funded McConnell, who is running neck-and-neck in the polls against the Democratic candidate, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

“I was the first person to speak and then I left,” Bevin said Saturday night, after another campaign event. “They knew I was here. They asked if I would be interested in speaking. I’m a politician running statewide, any chance I get to speak to a few hundred people I’m going to take it.”

Cockfighting enthusiasts threatened to “destroy” McConnell in February over his support for the federal farm bill, which sets penalties for attending a cockfight or dog fight.

Convictions for those federal crimes would carry the possibility of a one-year jail term and $100,000 fine, and the bill also prescribes a three-year jail term and $250,000 for those convicted of taking a child to watch game birds or dogs fight to their deaths for sport.

“When you make a law like that, you take good taxpaying people and you turn them into criminals overnight,” Davis said in February. “The grass roots on this are not playing games anymore. They’ve been beaten and battered for 30 years. They’re rural people. They want to be left alone.”

 
 
 
 
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