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Thread: Gulf Council Members in BIG Trouble

  1. #1
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    Default Gulf Council Members in BIG Trouble

    This was just sent to me. Thought you guys might like to know what is going on since the Sector Separation vote. Quite an interesting read no matter what side of the issue you favor.

    ************************************************** ****************************************
    From: The Fishing Rights Alliance

    How They Broke The Law

    Date posted: February 11, 2015

    What you need to know:
    The Fishing Rights Alliance has called for the immediate removal of three Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council members, Corky Perrett, John R. Greene, Jr., and Harlon Pearce, for their violation of section 301(j) Disclosure of Financial Interest and Recusal of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act 2007.



    Why?
    Specifically, the three individuals failed to disclose their positions beginning in 2013 as Directors of the Gulf Seafood Institute. In the Magnuson-Stevens Act it clearly states on in section 302(j)(2)(C) that a voting member of the Council must disclose, “any organization (other than the Council) in which that individual is serving as an officer, director, trustee, partner, or employee; in any harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activity that is being, or will be, undertaken within any fishery over which the Council concerned has jurisdiction, or with respect to an individual or organization with a financial interest in such activity”.

    Apparently, Perrett, Greene and Pearce have been on the Board of Directors of Gulf Seafood Institute (GSI) since 2013. In their 2014 NOAA Form 88-195 Statement of Financial Interests, they did not mention their affiliation with GSI. Check out the 2014 forms for yourself for Corky Perrett, John Greene, Jr. and Harlon Pearce.

    How long does a voting member have to disclose information?
    Council members must report a change “at any time any such financial interest is acquired,” according to Magnuson. When they submitted their signed disclosure forms one year ago, none of these Council members disclosed their interest in GSI.

    In their latest filings, they broke the law again by showing their involvement with GSI started in 2014. The Gulf Seafood Institute was formed by September of 2013, according to an article on the GSI website. Page 71 of Magnuson: “An affected individual referred to in paragraph (1)(A)(ii) must update his or her disclosure form at any time any such financial interest is acquired, or substantially changed, by any person referred to in paragraph (2)(A), (B), or (C).”

    The law is made crystal clear to Council members before they sign the NOAA Form 88-195 Statement of Financial Interest. At the bottom of Page 1 – “It is unlawful for an affected individual to knowingly and willfully fail to disclose, or to falsely disclose, any financial interest as required by the Magnuson Stevens Act or to knowingly vote on a Council decision in violation of this Act. In addition to the criminal penalties applicable, a violation of this provision may result in removal from Council or SSC membership.”



    What’s the big deal?
    Perrett, Greene and Pearce broke a federal law multiple times by failing to disclose their interests in the Gulf Seafood Institute. Those interests conflicted with their duties as Gulf Council members. Gulf Seafood Institute, with Perrett, Greene and Pearce, lobbied in Washington, DC for sector separation (Amendment 40) while the sector separation issue was before the Council. See photos below.

    According to the 2013 Conduct Rules for Members of Regional Fishery Management Councils and Magnuson, these members were not allowed to vote on Amendment 40 – yet they defiantly did so.

    From page 5 of Conduct Rules: “NOT ALLOWED/ Disqualification Required You cannot participate fully as a Council member on a matter: (1) that will affect your financial interests (or those whose interests are imputed to you) for which no exemption applies (see above); (2) in a harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing financial or employment interest or activity that you have not reported; (3) is a harvesting, processing, lobbying, advocacy, or marketing activity that will have an excepted and substantially disproportionate benefit (see below) that will affect your interest (or those whose interests are imputed to you); or (4) is a matter of primarily individual concern that will affect your interests (or those whose interests are imputed to you).”

    From Page 72 of Magnuson: 302(j)(7) (A) “After the effective date of regulations promulgated under subparagraph (F) of this paragraph, an affected individual required to disclose a financial interest under paragraph (2) shall not vote on a Council decision which would have a significant and predictable effect on such financial interest. A Council decision shall be considered to have a significant and predictable effect on a financial interest if there is a close causal link between the Council decision and an expected and substantially disproportionate benefit to the financial interest of the affected individual relative to the financial interests of other participants in the same gear type or sector of the fishery. An affected individual who may not vote may participate in Council deliberations relating to the decision after notifying the Council of the voting recusal and identifying the financial interest that would be affected.”



    What punishment do they face?
    Failure to Disclose is a big deal, made even bigger by the voting violations due to that non-disclosure. They face removal from the Council and criminal and civil penalties. Magnuson Page 71: 302(j)(8) “Section 208 of title 18, United States Code, does not apply to an affected individual referred to in paragraph (1)(A)(ii) during any time in which that individual is in compliance with the regulations prescribed under paragraph (5).”

    Being not ‘in compliance’ means that there is no protection from section 208, which defines applicable civil and criminal penalties in Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 11 › § 216, which reads in part:

    (a) The punishment for an offense under section 203, 204, 205, 207, 208, or 209 of this title is the following:
    (1) Whoever engages in the conduct constituting the offense shall be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined in the amount set forth in this title, or both.
    (2) Whoever willfully engages in the conduct constituting the offense shall be imprisoned for not more than five years or fined in the amount set forth in this title, or both.
    (b) The Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against any person who engages in conduct constituting an offense under section 203, 204, 205, 207, 208, or 209 of this title


    Then, why haven’t they been removed?
    Good question. We are waiting for that answer from the Secretary of Commerce. The Council members chose to ignore the repeated verbal and written warnings from Department of Commerce attorneys about the seriousness of non-disclosure of a ‘financial interest’. They signed a form saying they understood the law.

    Council members don’t have to get a paycheck to have a ‘financial interest’. Failure to disclose financial interest is a serious violation of the law. A Director/Officer does indeed have a financial interest in the group in which they are Directors. Therefore: “an affected individual required to disclose a financial interest under paragraph (2) shall not vote on a Council decision which would have a significant and predictable effect on such financial interest.” Page 72 Magnuson.

    Failure to abstain from voting due to conflict of financial interests is another violation of law. Here’s the definition of conflict from Magnuson 302(j)(7)(A)[with obvious inserts]: “A Council decision shall be considered to have a significant and predictable effect on a financial interest [Gulf Seafood Institute] if there is a close causal link between the Council decision and an expected and substantially disproportionate benefit to the financial interest [Gulf Seafood Institute’s sector separation beneficiaries and their legislative initiative] of the affected individual relative to the financial interests of other participants in the same gear type or sector of the fishery.”


    What has been done and what can you do?
    The FRA has issued a letter to Secretary Pritzker calling for the immediate removal of these council members. We are continuing to pursue the matter with appointed officials. So far, over 2,300 signatures have been received to support the removal of these Council members in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act and U.S. Code.

    Act now. Show the Council members, the Secretary of Commerce and your Congressmen that you will not stand for this. Join us in demanding the removal of these three Council members for breaking the law by signing your name in support of the FRA’s request to Secretary of Commerce. If you are one of the 2300+ that have already signed, we thank you for your stance. Be prepared to make your voice heard again. Very soon
    Candy
    President, ECRA
    Reef Deployment Director

  2. #2

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    Corruption where big money is involved? Who would have thunk it?

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I live in Val-p, FL. My boat lives in Niceville & I dive off the coast of Destin.
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    Default

    I have the feeling that the FRA has just shown a light on the tip of the iceburg. The truth has a way of coming to the surface sooner or later. Stay tuned, the story may have only just begun!
    Candy
    President, ECRA
    Reef Deployment Director

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