Museum stays mum on honoring Cheney
By Dennis Jensen
RUTLAND HERALD STAFF | February 06,2009
Cassandra Hotaling / Rutland Herald
The American Museum of Fly Fishing isn’t talking about reports that they will honor former Vice President Dick Cheney at the organization’s annual dinner.
Published reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney will be the guest of honor at the Manchester-based American Museum of Fly Fishing's annual dinner at the New York Angler's Club on March 5 has the organization re-examining that decision.
While Catherine Comar, the executive director of the museum, would not confirm or deny reports that Cheney was the guest of honor, reports of his upcoming appearance have appeared on the Web sites of several outdoor writers.
"We're not discussing this," Comar said.
Asked if the published reports were in error and if Cheney was not invited to speak, Comar said, "We'll contact you when we're ready to discuss the issue. The board (of directors) is having meetings. When we have any information to offer, we'll contact you."
Richard Tisch of Pound Ridge, N.Y., a member of the board of trustees for the museum, said he would not discuss the Cheney issue, but did acknowledge that the museum's board of directors would be addressing the issue in an upcoming meeting.
"We've got no comment at this time," he said. But Tisch said the board "will be meeting shortly, in the next week or two" to discuss the Cheney matter.
The museum has come under some criticism by several outdoor writers and others who maintain that Cheney is a poor choice to be honored by the museum, given, they said, his record on the environment.
Ted Williams, the conservation editor for Fly Rod & Reel magazine, apparently broke the Cheney story about a month ago on a blog he writes for that publication.
Williams explained his opposition to Cheney in a column written for High Country News, in Paonia, Colo.
"Can there be a better choice than traditional practitioner Dick Cheney — the man who … trashed the Endangered Species Act, who virtually canceled the Clean Air and Clean Waters acts, who suppressed science, who ruined the lives of dedicated resource professionals and who ran Christine Todd Whitman out of the EPA?"
The museum's Web site makes no mention that Cheney will be the guest speaker at its annual dinner. Tickets for the dinner are $175 a person.
Steve Wright of Craftsbury, an avid fly fisherman and a former commissioner of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, said he was surprised the museum would select a public figure as controversial as Cheney.
"I'm disappointed with the museum," he said. "I think it's sad. I wish the museum could have a higher standard for its fundraising practices."
Wright said he has always viewed the museum "as a conservation organization, but Dick Cheney is the archenemy of the habitat that supports cold water fisheries resources and he's proven that over eight years in office."
Wright said he suspected the museum didn't anticipate the kind of reaction it would receive when word got out about Cheney speaking at the annual dinner and said that might explain why the museum's board is having second thoughts about featuring him.
"The way these things happen is that some board member wants to play a big card just to show he can get someone from the inner circle to appear before his organization," Wright said.
Rep. David Deen, D-Windham, a fishing guide, said he didn't see a problem with inviting Cheney to speak.
"If having Dick Cheney will help the fly fishing museum carry out their mission, to raise some money to carry out their goals, then fine," he said. "The sport (of fly fishing) is not political; never has been."
Deen said that, as a lifelong Democrat, he "had some problems" with former President George W. Bush, but noted that Bush signed a number of executive orders that went a long way toward protecting ocean fisheries.
When Cheney was vice president, the code name given to him by the Secret Service was "Angler."