Warning: this post is boring and addresses drama that was unnecessary, however is necessary for us to respond to.
Our organization exists and functions 100% through hard work of over 100 volunteers and support from the public. It is why the Salt River wild horses were saved from a terrible fate and can still be enjoyed by millions of visitors along the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest.
To support our important programs like our rescue program, habitat improvement program, fencing program and fertility control program, our volunteers handmake jewelry and we order cool wild horse merchandise to sell at our booths as well as online.
Last weekend was the Lost Dutchman Days in Apache Junction, which is a fun event we have participated in for the past 7 years with our booth as well as our handmade float in the parade. We love Apache Junction and Apache Junction loves us! The committee for the event has always been wonderful.
However, this time, it was absolutely a terrible experience of blatant discrimination against our organization. It started with our booth being placed in a different location than we had always been in; the farthest booth on the outside of the event! Alas, we did not know why, but volunteers spent all day friday setting up and making it as beautiful as possible.
Saturday morning, a new member of the Lost Dutchman committee (and a vocal opponent of wild horses) stated that we did not send in the full paperwork and needed a “TPT”. The booth managing volunteer explained to the committee member that all paperwork was sent in, and that according to state law, SRWHMG is exempt as a 501c3 , from the TPT. This was a very polite exchange.
To be clear, through emails with a committee administrator the status of the TPT was all confirmed long beforehand. The administrator for lost Dutchman even apologized for initially sending the wrong forms. (See screenshot of the email as proof)
The volunteer at the booth got on the phone and worked very hard to solve the issue ASAP.
Calls were made to city council members who were willing to vouch for SRWHMG on the phone. SRWHMG offered to come bring all the proof to the committee member on Monday, because there was no opportunity to get it, as the city is CLOSED on Saturday. The committee member then left, and volunteers were still making phonecalls to resolve the issue. In the meantime lots of supporters were wondering what was going on.
Not much later, the Lost Dutchman committee member (and vocal opponent of wild horses) came back with two police officers and kicked us out of the event!!
This was an event that all needed paperwork was sent in for, that had been prepared for for months. It took many hours of work to set up, and 2 to 3 thousand dollars were lost, which were highly needed for SRWHMG programs.
What is actually worst is that it was so unnecessary. No one had done anything wrong.
To make matters a lot worse, the committee member and his wife then started gossiping to other participants at the event and the slander is being picked up online by haters and also by “friends of the Tonto National Forest”, who are themselves a 501(c)3 and connected to the committee member who is a former Forest Service employee.
This is why we have to formerly address it.
Below is evidence of the fact that SRWHMG is exempt from TPT because all proceeds are used for the mission of the organization ( funds go directly into important programs.) This is allowed by Arizona State law. AZ state tax law, see screenshot below. (However, to be clear, SRWHMG was perfectly willing to get the TPT anyway. )
Below is also evidence that a Lost Dutchman administrator stated in an email that SRWHMG did not need the TPT and apologized for sending on the wrong form. See screenshot of the email sent from administrator to our administrator.
Therefore clearly, all information that was asked from SRWHMG was sent in far in advance, plus SRWHMG was 100%willing to get it whatever the committee member wanted, however couldn’t, because it was Saturday.
It was unnecessary to bring police over, when no one did anything wrong except for “paperwork” that was assumed to be missing but, was in fact NOT missing.
Gossiping and spreading false rumors that SRWHMG did anything illegal is not only unprofessional but is actionable in court.
Anyone spreading false rumors about this incident is asked to cease and desist.
Kindness is hard to find these days,