(Jason Howerton) -- Last week, during an Election Day event supporting President Barack Obama in Fountain, Colo., U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar threatened a local reporter following a seemingly routine interview.
“If you set me up like this again, I’ll punch you out,” Salazar told Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Dave Phillips.
In an email to TheBlaze, U.S. Department of Interior spokesman Blake Androff confirmed that the altercation occurred. “The secretary regrets the exchange,” he wrote. The official did not provide any additional details.
Salazar had just finished answering questions about his policies for managing America’s wild horse population when the alleged incident occurred. Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the Cloud Foundation, was standing just feet away from Phillips when Salazar lost his temper.
“I was standing 3 feet away from Dave,” Kathrens told TheBlaze. “And when I turned, he kind of spat that at him and I thought, ‘Oh my God’…It was unbelievable.”
She said Salazar was “very angry” when he threatened to “punch out” the reporter, shooting down the assertion that he made the comment in a joking or harmless manner.
Kathrens also said Salazar told her, “You know, you should never do that” after she reached out to shake his hand. She is uncertain what the secretary of the interior meant by that remark.
“These threats would have been inappropriate coming from anyone, but the fact that it came out of the mouth of the Secretary of the Interior is alarming,” Kathrens stated in a press release. “I can’t believe that a top official in Obama’s cabinet could be so defensive.”
According to the Cloud Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of wild horses on public lands, Phillips, the threatened Colorado Springs Gazzette reporter, was interviewing Salazar as part of a follow-up to a previous article he had written in September about the sale of wild horses to Tom Davis, a Colorado “killer buyer” who purchased over 1,700 wild horses from government owned facilities.
Salazar himself reportedly admitted that the buyer’s activity is being investigated. “It is believed [the horses] were trucked over the border to Mexican slaughterhouses,” the release states.
While it’s unclear exactly what set Salazar off, Kathrens told TheBlaze that she believes the mention of Davis during the questioning period initially flustered him. Then Phillips reportedly asked if the system regarding the protection of horses needs to change, which made the Obama administration official even more tense. It was shortly after this final question that Salazar marched towards Phillips and made the indiscreet comment.
She also claimed that the Davis family has worked for the Salazars, insinuating that the interior secretary and Tom Davis have ties.