The Truth: HISA Is Practically Unaccountable

As previously relayed, I am very concerned that more and more states will use the establishment of the obscenely-named Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) as an excuse not to do their jobs, or at least the part that we’re most concerned about here – the compiling and disclosure of information on horse deaths. It’ll go something like this: HISA is in charge now; they will henceforth be the recordkeepers. Indeed, at least one state – Florida – has already begun claiming this.

Problem is, HISA, as they told me in an email this spring, “is a private, non-profit corporation and thus not subject to FOIA.” And the ostensible supervising agency, the Federal Trade Commission, told me: “The [FTC] does not have any responsive records to your request. Although we have broad oversight over the HISA, we do not have access to their records and, as a private entity, the HISA is not subject to the FOIA. Only the FTC is subject to the FOIA, but again we don’t have any responsive records.” Dizzying, huh?

I, of course, am not the only one who feels this way. Obviously, there are many within the industry itself who resent HISA’s existence, as the myriad court actions attest. In an Aug 25 legal brief, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association wrote: “Sometimes [HISA] wants to be like a government entity…. Other times it wants to be a private business league…exempt from…the Freedom of Information Act….” Exactly.

And in a recent Horse Racing Nation column, Ron Flatter writes: “Colleagues trying to shine a light into the dark recesses of [HISA’s] operation have been reminded that while the authority is carrying out a government mandate, it is not a government agency. Therefore, HISA does not feel compelled to respond to our demands for, dare I say, transparency.” Exactly.

(Flatter’s entire piece is an interesting read, including his lament that HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus makes over a half-million dollars per year.)

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  1. Flatter is Butcher Bob’s #1 cheerleader, yet ironically is calling for “transparency” from this joke of a no-clue organization. Constantly hiring “experts” with unlimited funding while their alleged “mission” continues to deteriorate before their eyes, HISA is truly the perfect example of the proverbial, “Be careful of what you wish for”.

  2. Rick: “Why are you closing me down, Louie, I paid off the…”
    Cpt. Louis Renault: I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that there’s GAMBLING going on here…”
    Unknown aide, to Renault: “Your winnings, sir….”
    Renault, obviously, caught with his pants down: “Oh, uh, yes, ahem… thankyouverymuch…”

    If this hypocritical exchange between the owner of The Café Americain and the chief prefect of police from the acclaimed 1942 movie, ‘Casablanca’ rings a bell, it should. HISA, who is obviously in bed with the heads of the racing industry have no intention of doing anything that might negatively affect their personal gravy train, which, of course, is the horse racing industry.

    Also, with $500K yearly salaries, obviously that factor alone is paramount in making critical decisions regarding horse racing- NOT the safety of the horses.

    I have said many times, and reading Mr. Battuello’s ‘A plea to bettors’, obviously he agrees with me: stop the wagering, stop the bets and you end horse racing. State and/or federal subsidies can only last so long before irate taxpayers start seriously questioning why they are paying their hard-earned tax dollars – to prop up a dying enterprise.

    And yes, Virginia, most good American folks DO NOT earn $500K a year .

    Interestingly, most younger citizens have little to no interest in horse racing other than on the big days- which, to them, simply suggests a fun party. And the majority of these young folks are blissfully unaware of the horror and tragedy that takes place behind the scenes, and, in the case of this year’s Saratoga meet, right in front of their eyes.

    Certainly the sport lost a lot of fans for good after seeing Maple Leaf Mel and NY Thunder meet their end so horrifically, but I think most people still feel these tragic events are rare.

    But, as always, I urge those reading to stop betting on horses, like I did, and find find alternative methods to slake your gambling thirst.

    I did. Anyone can.

  3. Regarding the “blue ribbon nominating committee” of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, I still have not heard or seen anything from anyone who can reveal the names of the “members” of this mysterious group of people. I can only assume that the members of the “blue ribbon nominating committee” are people who have a lot of clout in government and the horseracing industry. If Al Capone has any living relatives in the dark underworld of organized crime, I would assume that they could be members of the “blue ribbon nominating committee” and that their names are supposed to be a mystery.

  4. I guess I don’t understand. Isn’t HISA government funded? If so, who funds the government? Isn’t it the taxpayers? Don’t the taxpayers have the right to demand transparency? Or is like most of our government, what you don’t know won’t hurt you; we know what’s best; just pay your taxes and don’t worry about it? The USA was founded on a government “ Of the people, by the people, for the people”. What are we known for throughout the world … Freedom. Doesn’t that demand freedom of information? How can you be government funded and a private entity? Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all government funded and a private entity? What country are we living in??? Someone please help me understand. Maybe I am way off the beaten track here. If HW is prohibited from getting the truth, the greedy, money hungry vultures win and the horses continue to be tortured and die.

    • You make a valid point. If there were no such thing as corruption, you would not have to ask these questions and horseracing would have ended by now. Or, it would never have become a so-called sport in the first place.

  5. Funny how he’s a member of the (fact-seeking, dead-horse-revealing, high-credibility) racing press, yet he’s demanding “dare I say, transparency” from HISA. But notice it’s not the Dead Horse Data that Flatter’s seeking — and HISA’s hiding. Oh, no. He’s concerned they’re not revealing their FINANCIALS quickly enough. Doesn’t seem bothered in the least that they’re making it easier for him to do his job of NOT reporting or even mentioning the vast majority of TB killings on U.S. tracks.

    (Don’t worry, Flatter. HISA officials won’t be releasing any horse fatality information to the public; it’s just too damning. So, you really should be more appreciative of their secrecy. They’re truly just like you racing media super-journalists in this regard;)

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