Wednesday, November 20, 2013


In scenic Central Park, horse-drawn carriage rides have long served as an iconic attraction for many residents and visitors in the Big Apple. That era may be coming to an end, however. During his campaign for mayor, Bill De Blasio promised to end horse-drawn carriage rides in New York City on his first day as mayor. He wants to replace them with “old-timey” electric cars.

It’s another example of animal rights activists run wild. The pending ban will destroy several, generations-old, family carriage businesses. To radical animal rights advocates and leftists like De Blasio, these businesses are necessary collateral damage in their quest to re-order our lives.
The horses live a pampered existence, working no more than 9 hours per day under the care from trained equestrian experts, who undergo a rigorous licensing process that involves a 3 day test, 80 hours of apprenticeship, and a 6 month probationary period. 
With 5 weeks of mandatory vacation, the horses enjoy a level of workplace regulation that would put a French union worker to shame.  The stables housing these animals are lavish, granting the horses a standard of living that outperforms most human residents of NYC.  Still, nothing is good enough for the radical animal rights activists who have been scheming to abolish these stables for over a decade. 
Activists, who claim the carriage rides are unethical, base their case on the deaths of two horses in 2006 and 2007 that resulted from traffic accidents.  Nearly 300 people die every year due to traffic accidents in New York City.  Meanwhile, carriages have seen less than three horse fatalities total in the past three decades, despite giving countless thousands of rides every year.  The care and safety provided to these horses is extraordinary, yet with big money, animal rights activists have been able to blow isolated incidents way out of proportion. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

USDA's Rule to Regulate Breeders Out of Business Plans to Proceed

Though the government shutdown remains unpopular with many Americans, pet breeders around the country have greeted the news with a sigh of relief.  For once in their recent history, they can operate their businesses without the perpetual harassment of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a government agency that frequently collaborates with extreme animal rights activists to make it more difficult to raise and own animals in this country.  Upon the re-opening of the USDA, pet breeders will be subject to a new rule from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which would broadly expand their ability to regulate small businesses. Under the new rule, any pet breeder who sells even one of their animals over the internet, phone, or mail will now be subjected to the onerous licensing and inspection requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Under current law, retail pet stores and small hobby breeders are not required to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. The proposed APHIS rule would strip this exemption from any breeder who uses the internet, phone, or mail to sell their pets, as many have chosen to do in the modern economy. During a conference call unveiling the rule, APHIS clarified that if a breeder sells even one animal in a location other than where the animal was bred, that breeder would then be subject to the AWA. They refer to this change as “closing a loophole.” In actuality, it is a vast expansion of the regulatory jurisdiction of the federal government.

Many Americans have chosen to obtain their pets from small hobby breeders, as these dogs have a reputation of being some of the best-socialized pets in the industry.   Bringing a small breeding establishment into compliance with these rules is estimated by APHIS to cost as much as $5000, a prohibitively expensive sum for many.  In addition, these small breeders would be potentially subject to fines up to $10,000 for non-compliance, a risk that has many opting to instead close up shop for good. 

As this rule will require countless thousands of additional inspections to occur, the estimated costs to the taxpayer for the implementation of this regulation are astronomical.  The USDA assures us, however, that the costs are justified by the “improved animal welfare” that will result from this rule.  Yet, no study has been done as to the nature of the positive results from the rule, and they continue to refuse to quantify the supposed benefits that the public should expect. 

The purported reason for the proposed change is to ensure that all pets sold to consumers sight-unseen are delivered in a healthy condition. Their Notice of Proposed New Rulemaking observes that the USDA has received “some” reports in recent years of dogs purchased over the internet arriving in bad health. APHIS then goes on to mind-bogglingly admit that they have no evidence to suggest that this situation occurs at any greater frequency than dogs purchased directly from a traditional pet store.  Nonetheless they claim that a vast expansion of their regulatory power is immediately necessary in order to address this crisis.

Unsurprisingly, the rule is being pushed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a group which has a long history of trying to put breeders out of business. For those unfamiliar with HSUS, they are essentially PETA in suits, and they raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year from sappy commercials picturing abused dogs, while spending less than 1% of that money per year on the actual care of animals. The rest, of course, is spent lobbying on behalf of their radical agenda to make animal ownership and consumption prohibitively expensive. HSUS is calling the new rule “a huge step forward for the welfare of dogs in puppy mills.” A “puppy mill” is the affectionate term used by HSUS to describe all dog breeding establishments.

For many years, the HSUS has been working to put dog breeders out of business in order to make adoptions the only viable means of obtaining a pet.  They know that during hard economic times, hobby breeders cannot afford to comply with these costly federal regulations. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is coordinating with radical activists to implement job-killing policies through the rule-making powers of bureaucrats with no oversight from Congress.  We all know that the government will again be open for business before long.  For many breeders, that will only mean the beginning of the end of the establishments they spent years to create.

Phil Christofanelli is the Director of Public Affairs for The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related businesses, sportsmen, and agriculture concerns legally nationwide.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


The effect of government overreach can, at times, be hidden in the form of diminished opportunity or higher prices.  In the case of the deer-breeding industry, the effects are much more recognizable and in some cases, people and their families are left completely devastated, often with no recourse. Case in point:
Tom and Rhonda Brakke are your typical American farmers.  It has often been said that happiness is finding something you love – then figuring out a way to do it for a living. Tom and Rhonda did just that and were on their way to creating a business around one of their favorite hobbies: deer hunting.  The Brakkes acquired some land and began to breed and raise deer.  Upon maturation, the Brakkes would release the deer on a large preserve in order to allow hunters to enjoy the sport in a controlled and private environment.
Their small venture was a great success as they worked hard and followed their pursuit of happiness. Then – as often happens whenever achievement in the private sector develops – the government showed up to help:
In 2012, inspired by a Humane Society of the United States scare campaign, the USDA adopted a new set of rules to address Chronic Wasting Disease, a rare ailment that affects deer and other cervids. This uncommon disorder is not communicable to humans or other animals and displays few symptoms until the death of the deer many years after infection.  In other words, CWD is not a threat at all, but rather, the Restless Leg Syndrome of the deer world, a contrived crisis designed by activists to make captive breeding and hunting preserves nearly impossible to operate.
The same month that the USDA released their new CWD rule, the Brakkes were informed that one of the deer in their herd of nearly 700 had tested positive for CWD.  The government offered no evidence that their test was not a false positive, nor did they allow for any additional tests by a third party.  The Brakkes were forced to take the government at their word.  The Center for Disease Control estimates the rate of CWD infection among deer nationally to be at about 2%, other sources say 1% or less.  Still, in accordance with the new USDA guidelines, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources ordered the
Brakkes to eradicate 200 deer on their hunting ranch, despite their having an infection rate of only 1/7th of a percent.  They were then ordered to erect an electric fence around all of their property, test all their remaining animals, and dig up and rebury the top soil on several parts of their land. In addition, under the direction of the USDA, the State of Iowa quarantined and required continued testing of the remaining 500 deer in their herd.  The quarantine is in effect until 2018, and if they find another positive, the clock will reset for another five-year quarantine. In other words, game over.
Don’t worry, the Brakkes are still required to spend roughly $3,000 weekly to feed the remaining 500 deer on their property without any means of profiting from the livestock. They have spent a small fortune in a futile attempt to comply with the new USDA regulations, all while the government has put them out of business. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
The truth is that this has nothing to do with the Brakkes, their small business, their hard-earned money, or even the health of deer or any other animal. This is about a government agency permeated by left-wing activists and operated as an arm of the animal rights extremist movement. The USDA is using a non-problem to create a non-crisis to regulate captive hunts out of existence, because animal rights activists don’t like them. By the USDA and the Center for Disease Control’s own admission they don’t even know how CWD is spread.  They offer no evidence there was a potential emergency with the Brakkes' operation – yet the jack-boots marched in and declared the place to be shut down. End of story. No recourse.
Directors, spokespersons, Department heads in the Obama Administration, and the President himself may smile and say that new gun restriction proposals have nothing to do with Americans right to hunt, but hunters should recognize that they are aggressively getting it done another way. Beware of the new changes in the name of “animal care” that occur behind the scenes or else one day we may wake up in a world where hunting is a thing of the past.

Author, Phil Christofanelli is the Director of Public Affairs for The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related business, hunters, and agriculture concerns legally nationwide.


Many of those who donate to the Humane Society of the United States are unaware of the fact that HSUS is one of the greatest foes to fishing and hunting in the country.  Wayne Pacelle, President of HSUS, on numerous occasions has revealed his personal disdain for the American sport.  Pacelle was once quoted by the AP saying, “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.”  To date, HSUS has spearheaded upwards of 25 anti-hunting ballot initiatives across the country.  Like many Fabian left-wing groups, HSUS takes an incremental approach in making hunting progressively more difficult through additional regulation of the sport at the ballot box and in state legislatures.
One of the main targets is what HSUS refers to as canned hunts.  These hunts are of wildlife bred in captivity and released over a large, enclosed area for hunting.  HSUS believes that it is “cruel” to breed animals for the purpose of hunting, but these hunting areas have provided business opportunities to many struggling, rural Americans and have also allowed hunters to enjoy the sport in a controlled and safe environment.  In fact, many of the species bred in captivity would have long since gone extinct, but for the cultivation of these businesses.  For radical animal rights activists, however, the needs of animals always outweigh the needs of humans.
As Rahm Emanuel aptly taught us, it is critical to create a crisis in order to quickly implement one’s agenda.  HSUS seems to have found their silver bullet against captive hunting in an obscure ailment known as “Chronic Wasting Disease,” or CWD.  CWD is a progressive disease which in rare occasions afflicts older cervids (read: deer) and results, over time, in brain lesions and ultimately, death.  According to the Center for Disease Control, there is no evidence that CWD poses any threat to humans who consume a deer with the disease, nor is there any way the disease could spread to domestic livestock.  Infection rates among your average white-tailed deer linger at less than 1%.  Infected deer can live quite a long time with the disease, produce healthy fawns, and remain nearly symptom free until their deaths.
By now you might be thinking: What’s the big deal?  However, to HSUS, and lately the USDA, CWD is a massive crisis crying out for a swift passage of numerous regulations on captive hunting farmers.  According to HSUS’s website, in order to address the CWD crisis, states must ban all game farms and captive hunting, as well as end the transportation of any deer across state lines, a move which would effectively decimate the ability of deer farmers to make money and to breed genetically diversified livestock.
Unsurprisingly, it is not difficult to determine the source of the USDA’s newfound obsession with CWD.  The head of the CWD Program at the USDA is none other than Dr. Patrice Klein.  Dr. Klein is a former employee of the Humane Society of the United States where she served as a Wildlife Veterinarian and Director.
Just last year, the USDA took HSUS’ policy recommendations to heart.  In their new CWD Program Standards manual, they proclaim that the most reasonable course to be taken once a deer on a captive farm tests positive is complete eradication of the entire herd.  These irradiations are done entirely at the owner’s expense and leave little avenue for appeal to the farmer.  The USDA also has begun to test the waters for extensive regulation of the transportation of cervids across state lines with a new “voluntary” policy which sets the guidelines under which interstate trafficking of deer can occur.  The USDA admits that it has no idea how CWD is spread, yet it still holds that entire herds should be destroyed if even one deer develops this disease which occurs naturally and does not in any way affect humans!
While CWD may pose some threat to cervid species and may be worthy of study, analysis, and careful monitoring, the disease should definitely not be used as an excuse to destroy hunting and farming in accordance with the extreme agenda of a radical few.  In the rare cases of CWD infected, deer farmers have shown great success at controlling the disease within their herds.  Fear mongering from HSUS has nonetheless resulted in gross overreactions that have completely destroyed some American farms.  Bottom line: HSUS is out to destroy people’s way of life, not help animals. They are an extremist, radical, corrupt group bent on taking away the rights of law abiding citizens through deceit, manipulation, and intimidation.

Author, Phil Christofanelli is the Director of Public Affairs for The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related business, hunters, and agriculture concerns legally nationwide.

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The contemporary “animal rights” movement and its various factions are not what they seem. For every legitimate concern, there are dozens of front groups operated and funded by extremists with radical agendas. For instance, over the past several years, the ASPCA, PETA, and HSUS have been waging a war against so-called “puppy mills.”  

They lead Americans to believe that their focus is on rogue, unscrupulous dog breeders, but in a recent interview, the ASPCA admitted that they consider even law-abiding dog breeders to be “puppy mills.” Animal rights activists hold the belief that bringing new, pure-bred dogs into existence is unethical so long as there are dogs in shelters.  Thus, they seek to put every law-abiding dog breeder permanently out of business by any means necessary.  
Their public relations war against dog breeding has raked in countless millions from unsuspecting donors who are unaware of the fact that almost none of this money actually goes to the care of dogs. The numbers of abused animals are inflated and exaggerated to the point where you would think that puppy mills were an epidemic. In reality, almost all dog breeders are hard-working, rural Americans, who take very good care of their animals.  
Recently, the activists have turned to a disturbing, new tactic of singling out individual breeders and publishing their names, their addresses, and photographs of their breeding establishments. Where do they obtain such information, one might ask? The answer: None other than our own government, courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture.  
The USDA, once tasked with protecting American farmers and breeders, has crawled into bed with the most anti-farming elements of the Left. Despite the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) explicitly granting a protection through Exemption 6 for any personal information that can be linked to an individual, the USDA decided to respond the ASPCA’s FOIA request by handing over the personal information and inspection photos of dog breeders from all over the United States.
As part of the inspection process, the USDA takes these photographs of breeding facilities in order to ensure compliance. Many breeders report being told that these photos are to be used only for the purpose of inspection. Several contacted The Cavalry Group, an organization which defends the rights of animal owners, horrified to find pictures of their homes and businesses on the ASPCA website. Many of the photos were over 10 years old, and some included pictures of businesses that have changed owners. In several notable cases, the breeder in question had been deceased for many years.
The ASPCA wants people to believe that these photos depict a day-to-day reality of all dog breeding facilities. 
The photos, however, were taken out of context in order to support an exaggerated claim of widespread animal abuse and to renew calls for widespread regulation of the dog breeding industry. In reality, the breeding facility in question corrected any areas of non-compliance with the law shortly after the inspection. 
Yet today, their businesses are being perpetually smeared by an organization that seeks to bring about an end to pure-bred dogs in favor of adoption from shelters, all with the help of our own government.
The ASPCA is well within their rights to advocate for adoption, but using out of date information to smear the reputations of individual dog-breeders is going a step too far. Most importantly, the USDA should not be skirting FOIA exemptions in order to accommodate the agenda of radical activists. However, when the USDA is hijacked by these very same groups, we should not expect anything less. A once-sensible objective of animal welfare has been corrupted by today’s activists, who exploit government in order to put animals ahead of humans at any cost.

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Author, Phil Christofanelli is the Director of Public Affairs for The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related business, hunters, and agriculture concerns legally nationwide.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Animal Rights Activists Transforming USDA from Top to Bottom

For most Americans, contact with the United States Department of Agriculture is rare, save for reading the occasional sticker on a package of ground chuck or baby carrots. For farmers and animal breeders, the USDA is an ever-present and often arduous force. Decisions made by these bureaucrats determine the viability and fate of many farms and livestock-based businesses every day.  Just as we have seen with the EPA and other agencies, this power makes the USDA a ripe target for infiltration by extremist elements on the Left who seek to radically remake American life.

At the forefront of organizations pressuring the USDA is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Many people believe that HSUS is a friendly organization that raises money for pet shelters through sappy commercials featuring abandoned dogs and cats. In reality, HSUS is a radical animal organization with an agenda similar to PETA. Despite what their commercials lead unsuspecting donors to believe...  (READ MORE)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tyson Foods Lets the Fox in the Henhouse

The Cavalry Group takes a hard line in protecting its members' Constitutional rights to private property against the onslaught of the animal rights agenda.  In doing so, we often say privately to our members and publicly when speaking at agriculture and liberty events, "Never collaborate with those who seek your demise."

Tyson Foods failed that Creed with the announcement of their newly formed Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel.  Shocked were we to learn that they invited Miyun Park, executive director of Global Animal Partnership to be a member of this board.

As a quick reminder, Wayne Pacelle is on the board of Global Animal Partnership.  And let's not forget that Global Animal Partnership's agenda is the elimination of animal agriculture and furthering global governance through the implementation of Agenda 21.

Our friend at iloveag further describes Tyson's tragic announcement quite well in this excellent article:

Tyson Confirms Fears: Fox IS in Henhouse
by iloveag

In “Tyson Foods Announces A Win For Wayne Pacelle” and ”Dancing With The Devil” I warned about Tyson Foods’ futile attempt to placate animal rights activists.

Tyson finally announced the 13-person advisory panel that will develop standards for their Farm Check audit program.

Members of the panel include:
  • Ryan Best, 2011-2012 president, Future Farmers of America
  • Anne Burkholder, cattle feedlot owner
  • Ed Cooney, executive director of the Congressional Hunger Center
  • Gail Golab, Ph.D., DVM, director of American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Division
  • Temple Grandin, Ph.D., professor of animal science, Colorado State University
  • Karl Guggenmos, dean of culinary education, Johnson & Wales University
  • Tim Loula, DVM, co-founder and co-owner of Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minnesota
  • Miyun Park, executive director, Global Animal Partnership
  • Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, National Chicken Council
  • Richard Raymond, M.D., former U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Food Safety
  • Janeen Salak-Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor in Animal Sciences, University of Illinois
  • Janice Swanson, Ph.D., chair and professor, Animal Behavior and Welfare, Michigan State University
  • Bruce Webster, Ph.D., professor of poultry science, University of Georgia
The fact that animal rights and vegan activist and former HSUS Vice President Miyun Park is on the panel should give every producer heart palpitations.
Miyun Park

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Obama Administration Tightens Grip of Hobby Pet Breeders

Don’t believe the “job-creating” rhetoric coming out of the current administration. At every turn, Obama’s bureaucrats are developing new and creative ways to make it more difficult for small businesses to survive. Down at the Department of Agriculture, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has decided to broadly expand their jurisdiction. Under the new proposed rule, all pet breeders who sell their animals over the internet, phone, or mail will now be subjected to the demanding licensing and inspection requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Under current law, retail pet stores are not required to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. The proposed APHIS rule would strip the retail pet store exemption from any breeder who uses the internet, phone, or mail to sell their pets, as many have chosen to do in the modern economy. During a conference call unveiling the rule, APHIS clarified that if a breeder sells even one animal in a location other than where the animal was bred, the breeder would then be subject to the AWA. They refer to this change as “closing a loophole.” In actuality, it is a vast expansion of the regulatory jurisdiction of the federal government.   Continue reading

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tennessee Governor Haslam Veto’s Agriculture Legislation: The Real Story

On Monday, May 13th, 2013, Tennessee Republican Governor, Bill Haslam elected to veto the Tennessee legislation known as the Animal Abuse Reporting bill (HB 1191/S 1248) under the guise that the current wording of the legislation needs to be reworked to avoid constitutional challenges. 

While I want to give Governor Haslam the benefit of the doubt, what was really at work here was an over the top effort by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other animal rights activists to pressure Governor Haslam into submission. Although there were many non-Tennessean’s such as singer Carrie Underwood and celebrity Ellen DeGeneres who were involved in this effort, HSUS, the self appointed arbitrator of animal welfare, is the loudest of the voices who regularly manipulate the facts and, in many cases, lie to support their ideological view.
While they claim the mantle of free speech, those who don’t agree are ignored or told to shut up.  Unfortunately, this particular subject matter has serious consequences which ruins lives and businesses while throwing the 4th, 5th and 14th Constitutional Rights of American citizens out the window.

In this recent instance, HSUS has used every dishonest tactic available to them to pressure Governor Haslam to veto this legislation passed by the Tennessee legislature to protect animals from abuse, while also protecting the Constitutional and private property rights of citizens.  The legislation, fraudulently labeled by HSUS as the “Ag Gag Bill” was a response to abuses perpetrated by HSUS and other animal rights extremists attacking animal owners, animal related businesses, and animal agriculture around the country. 

HSUS targets animal owners and businesses, illegally gathers or manufactures evidence of supposed “animal cruelty,” while manipulating prosecutors and judges to obtain search warrants and/or seizure warrants against private citizens or companies.   The subjects of most cases are law abiding citizens caught unprepared in a cruel web of accusations, and without legal representation or the funds to defend themselves. 
HSUS takes weeks or months, and sometimes years to plan out these actions to create the biggest spectacle with the real intent of raising money from the process while destroying their target. The target is then blanketed in the media as an “animal abuser,” ruining their reputation and business before having their day in court.  Overwhelmed by the process and the cost, some cop pleas to lesser charges, but those who have fought back have, in most cases, had charges dismissed.   Unfortunately however, their lives and businesses are already destroyed, and their private property (animals) have been euthanized, sold off, or have disappeared without a trace.

Case in point, HSUS issued a press release last week claiming that the Tennessee Walking Horse industry required HSUS to police their industry with lengthy undercover investigations.  To support that claim, HSUS produced a lengthy evaluation of the inspection results from the Super Bowl of the Tennessee walking horse industry, the 2012 Celebration intended to provide evidence for the need for HSUS’s ongoing investigations claiming that 76% of the horses were found in violation of the rules.  As typical of HSUS, they again manipulated the facts and fabricated information to make their point.  

The actual USDA inspection results present a much different picture with actual violations issued to only 9% of the participants rather than the 76% that HSUS would like you to believe.   To further pressure Governor Haslam, HSUS and former HSUS employees (now working at USDA) orchestrated a surprise attack on a facility owned by high profile Tennessee walking horse trainer, Larry Wheelon, who has been targeted for years by animal rights activists.  
The legally questionable search and subsequent seizure of 18 elite horses from the facility raises some serious questions especially when some of the horses were immediately released to an owner with ties to one of the animal rights groups involved in the seizure.   Notwithstanding the fabricated propaganda, Mr. Wheelon has been charged with only one count of animal cruelty and legal sources close to the case expect the charges to be dropped.  Unfortunately, HSUS and cooperative media outlets don’t care about Mr. Wheelon’s right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.  They have declared him guilty, and in addition to bullying Tennessee lawmakers they are using this case to raise money for future HSUS terrorist activities.
The Tennessee Animal Abuse Reporting Bill attacked last week by HSUS would have required accusers to simply bring forth evidence of animal cruelty to law enforcement within 48 hours to get law enforcement to act.  Common sense would require that if an animal is at risk, law enforcement should be contacted immediately with the evidence to protect the animal.  I would think that HSUS would be in favor of such a law.

To further connect the dots, you may remember that last year Pilot Travel Centers, owned by the Haslam family, dropped their support of the Humane Society of the United States due to HSUS’s attacks on animal enterprises and agriculture.  It’s clear that this correct change in corporate policy coupled with the Animal Abuse Reporting Bill awaiting Haslam’s signature put the Governor in the cross hairs of HSUS’s intimidation tactics.
Hopefully Tennessee lawmakers and Governor Haslam will rise to the challenge and reinvigorate their efforts to pass legislation to protect Tennessee citizens and businesses from those who want to abuse due process, and private property rights under the guise of animal welfare.  

Mark Patterson is the CEO of The Cavalry Group a private member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related businesses, sportsmen, and agriculture concerns legally, nationwide at the local, state, and federal levels.