[Tweeters] OT: ABA bribery conviction

Michael Hobbs birdmarymoor at frontier.com
Mon Apr 1 07:17:28 PDT 2019

Tweets – let’s hope the WBRC never faces something like this.

== Michael Hobbs
== www.marymoor.org/birding.htm
== BirdMarymoor at frontier.com

Knoxville Gazette
April 1, 2019

An orthopedic surgeon and noted birdwatcher from Bramburton has pleaded guilty in Federal district court to attempted bribery in a a case that has ruffled a few feather. Dr. Cooper Newton was arrested in 2018 after he attempted to bribe several members of the American Birding Association’s Checklist Committee.

“If you saw the 2011 movie, The Big Year, with Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson, you might understand just how important bird lists are to some people,” explained Deputy Prosecutor Virginia Smith. “They are extremely competitive about their “life list”, a count of all of the bird species they’ve seen in their lives. These people are a bit crazy about it, and apparently that pushed Dr. Newton into trying to bribe some people.”

Those people were members of the ABA “checklist committee”. In 2017, the membership of the ABA voted to add Hawaii to the “ABA area”, which meant Hawaiian birds would be added to the possible list of “countable” birds, for serious birdwatchers such as Dr. Newton. The checklist committee was then charged with figuring out which birds would be added to the ABA checklist from Hawaii, which involved determining which birds were “established in the wild” there.

“Hawaii is losing it’s native birds to habitat loss and avian malaria, but an increasing number of species of bird have been brought to the state and have escaped. Some, but not all, of those escaped birds have successfully established themselves as permanent populations of birds on the islands, with many generations of successful breeding,” explained committee member Dave Johnstone. “Dr. Newton wanted to influence which species of escaped birds we declared were established, and would be added to the ABA Checklist.”

Prosecutor Smith had nothing but praise for the ABA committee members. “They seemed bemused when the doctor offered them money and trips in exchange for certain rulings, but they realized it was bribery, and immediately contacted the FBI. “

Dr Newton is expected to face fines, not jail time, for his crimes. He has already had his membership in the ABA permanently revoked, which means his life list totals will no longer be published by the ABA. “Dr. Newton has permanently lost his high ranking,” stated the ABA’s Johnston.
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