Topic: Gov’t, Lobbying, Politics

  • HSUS Tied to Lobby Shop That Housed Accused Fraudster

    The Humane Society of the United States has come under scrutiny from Members of Congress for spending an inordinate amount of money on lobbying in possible violation of charity rules. New revelations shine a light on the lobbying apparatus in which HSUS operates.

    According to the Washington Free Beacon, lobbyist David H. Miller was recently indicted for embezzlement for allegedly ripping off an autism charity and a Virginia state political campaign. Miller worked for New World Group Public Affairs, a lobbying firm that represents the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), HSUS’s official lobbying arm. Miller was indicted in September, but it sounds like he was only recently let go; one of the firm’s clients learned about the indictment from the Free Beacon reporter.

    This shouldn’t have been hard to notice. Miller’s wife already pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to years in prison, and court documents from that case show that “D.M.” was listed as a co-conspirator. (Miller also was the subject of media reports during a previous run for office that he owed $38,000 in back taxes.)

    Meanwhile, the managing partner of the firm, former Congressman Jerry Weller—listed on the registration documents for HSLF—has come under scrutiny for ethics issues related to failing to report assets he bought and sold in Nicaragua while in office.

    We’d ask if no one at HSUS does their due diligence, but the fact is, they probably don’t care. Welcome to “the swamp.”

    Posted on 11/20/2017 at 5:25 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Gov't, Lobbying, Politics


  • HSUS Cozies Up to Trump Administration

    The Humane Society of the United States’ political arm endorsed Hillary Clinton last year, calling a Donald Trump administration a “threat to animals everywhere.” So why is HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle now getting close to the very people he condemns?

    Pacelle visited the White House on Wednesday for a roundtable featuring himself, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, Lara Trump, and the wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Along with HSUS’s condemnation of Trump’s agenda, HSUS’s political arm singled out Lara Trump’s husband, Eric Trump, and his brother Don Jr. for going on safari hunts in Africa. Pacelle has also raged against Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

    And now Pacelle is hobnobbing with the Trump family while sitting just two chairs away from Zinke at the White House. HSUS also hosted Lara Trump at its Washington, D.C. office in July.

    One possibility: Pacelle is looking for money. Pacelle, you may recall, betrayed many HSUS supporters by publicly allying with Michael Vick after Vick’s release from prison for dogfighting-related charges. HSUS took $50,000 from the Philadelphia Eagles and embarked on a public rehabilitation tour for Vick. Pacelle even endorsed Vick getting another dog as a pet.

    Now, Pacelle sees a new opportunity: Get close to a billionaire’s family and its social network. Oily Pacelle loves to attend and host events for the wealthy in Palm Beach and Manhattan. And it’s clear from Vick that anyone’s money is green to Pacelle, who laid off 55 people last year after HSUS had fundraising troubles.

    We have followers of all political stripes, so we’re neutral as to the politics here. But if Wayne Pacelle wants to play both sides—much like he tried to have it both ways with Michael Vick—people deserve to know.

    Posted on 10/19/2017 at 6:42 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Gov't, Lobbying, Politics


  • Your Taxpayer Dollars Fund HSUS

    The $640 toilet seat bought by the Pentagon. The $7,600 coffee pot. The $37 screws. The annals of government waste run long.

    Add one more chapter: the Humane Society of the United States.

    Federal records show that HSUS was awarded $715,000 last year from the federal government. Most of that money came from the Department of Justice, with another chunk of change coming from the Department of the Interior.

    And what exactly is your money going towards? Some of it pays for shooting up feral horses with contraceptive drugs, while other money covers work HSUS should already be doing for free.

    For the Department of the Interior, moneys to HSUS included $99,000 for “training on new penal code to improve enforcement of wildlife laws in Vietnam” and $65,000 for testing the contraceptive drug PZP on feral horses in northwest Arizona. HSUS wants the costly PZP to be used broadly to control wildlife populations, as an alternative to hunting–and taxpayers would foot the bill.

    Ironically, Bureau of Land Management officials think PZP is a waste of time. According to a Government Accountability Office report released last month, “Due to the costs, limited duration of effectiveness, and the difficulty of accessing most areas, administering the treatments on a large scale is not currently cost-effective for maintaining most wild horse populations at sustainable levels, according to agency officials.” So why the outlay of public money to HSUS?

    Funds from the Department of Justice, meanwhile, went to help pay for the care of dogs seized in criminal cases under the agency’s asset forfeiture program. The original contract value appears to have been reduced this year, but isn’t this something HSUS could do for free? HSUS has $50 million sitting in offshore Caribbean accounts, according to its latest tax return, and has enough money to pay 44 people over $100,000 a year in compensation. It spent $70 million on fundraising last year—couldn’t HSUS cut back on the junk mail solicitations to help care for some dogs? (Apparently not.)

    Don’t want your tax dollars given to HSUS? Contact your Congressman and complain. A group hoarding $50 million in the Caribbean does not deserve a penny of taxpayer money. And since HSUS is on the public dole, perhaps an oversight committee can take a closer look at just how that money was spent.

    Posted on 09/21/2017 at 11:42 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Fundraising & MoneyGov't, Lobbying, Politics


  • HSUS Failures on Capitol Hill Mount

    This week a letter signed by several dozen Members of Congress—who are members of HSUS’s so-called Animal Protection Caucus—was sent to the House agriculture committee ranking members asking that HSUS-backed provisions be included in the 2018 Farm Bill. The request is quite telling—because it goes to show how little success HSUS has had over the past several years in getting its legislation through on its own.

    Despite its propensity to toot its own horn, HSUS has been a specialist in failure when it comes to the halls of Congress. One particular black mark came as HSUS backer Rep. Ed Whitfield was investigated by the House Ethics Committee following allegations that his wife, HSUS lobbyist Connie Harriman-Whitfield, improperly used his office’s resources for her lobbying efforts. The Committee issued a “scathing report” against Whitfield, and he resigned last year. His wife is no longer lobbying for HSUS.

    The legislative failures have piled up. Here are some notable ones:

    PAST Act: Supposedly would combat horse soring. First introduced in 2010, hasn’t passed in seven years. (Opponents have submitted a competing anti-soring bill.)

    Egg Bill: Introduced in 2011 after HSUS cut a deal with the egg industry’s main trade group, it would have created mandatory requirements for hen housing nationwide. Went down in flames.

    SAFE Act. Introduced since 2013, would ban the export of horses to Mexico for slaughter for human consumption—a problem ironically created by HSUS when it pushed to ban horse slaughter domestically 10 years ago in US plants overseen by federal humane-treatment regulations.

    In fact, HSUS has pushed an additional nine animal rights bills (some for multiple years) that have gone nowhere. It’s not clear if they haven’t passed because they are simply inept, or if their reckless style has made HSUS toxic in the halls of Congress. (We have worked to make sure Congressional staffers understand what HSUS is all about with ad campaigns on Capitol Hill such as the one at right.)

    Meanwhile, HSUS pushed a Congressional Resolution last year against the dog meat trade in Asia—a lay-up that HSUS still couldn’t get passed. (The main sponsor of the resolution was Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was removed from a judgeship for bribery and perjury. Is he the only guy who would return HSUS’s calls?)

    And then there’s the plethora of state bills that HSUS has pushed, many of which do absolutely nothing (like restricting how farms house pigs in Rhode Island—where there are hardly any pigs).

    The only bills we can find that HSUS appears to have had a hand in passing was a 2010 law banning pornographic videos that involve killing animals and one banning being a spectator at animal fights—pretty much no-brainer laws.

    Tellingly, HSUS’s federal legislation website is so out of date that it still has a call-to-action to Tom Vilsack—who hasn’t been agriculture secretary in over six months. In other words, like most of HSUS’s bills, the web portal is collecting cobwebs.

    It’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of money than donating to HSUS’s PAC or legislative fund.

    HSUS currently has an employment posting for political director for its legislative arm as well as three public policy positions. Any prospective candidate who does his homework will know it’s a dead-end job.

    Posted on 08/03/2017 at 12:40 pm by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Gov't, Lobbying, PoliticsHorsesLobbyists


  • Court Rules HSUS a “Lobbying” Organization

    Facing a lawsuit for breach of contract and fraud, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently faced off in federal court against a former donor.

    Hiroshi Horiike, CEO of the Genlin Foundation, in association with the Hong Kong-based World Dog Alliance, created “Eating Happiness,” a documentary that tackled multiple aspects of the abhorrent dog meat trade in Asia. HSUS, through its international organization, agreed to do promotional work, lobbying, and screenings of the movie in the United States in return for a donation of $1 million over two years.

    But after HSUS, apparently, couldn’t come through with the screenings, and HSUS failed to get legislation introduced in Congress, Horiike sued for breach of contract some months later, arguing HSUS wasn’t upholding its end of the deal.
    Unfortunately, a judge didn’t agree and dismissed the suit, arguing that it was premature–even though something like documentary screenings is a timely matter and cannot drag on for the length of a two-year agreement.
    But the judge also noted in his ruling that “HSUS is a lobbying organization. Its success is predicated on its ability to maintain and use relationships with lawmakers. Common sense shows that it has an interest in preserving those relationships. Therefore this is not a sufficient basis to establish a triable issue as to the claimed breach.”
    This is interesting. As a 501(c)(3) organization, HSUS is not allowed to be a “lobbying organization.” It has a very limited scope for the amount of lobbying it, and its volunteers, do.
    In 2011, it faced a call for investigation from federal lawmakers regarding the total tonnage of its lobbying. These members of Congress complained to the IRS, but it may have gone nowhere because the now notorious Lois Lerner, who oversaw tax-exempt groups, was a member of HSUS.
    With a sitting federal judge now calling HSUS a “lobbying organization,” it’s about time the IRS looked into how HSUS is spending its tax-free dollars.

    Posted on 06/12/2017 at 1:52 pm by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: Courtroom DramaGov't, Lobbying, PoliticsLitigationLobbyists


  • See Our New “Doghouse” Ad in Politico

    With the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) pushing its legislative agenda on Capitol Hill, we decided it was time to release another ad highlighting some of the group’s worst actions. This time, we focused on targeting legislators and staffers by placing it in Politico.

    HSUS recently began pushing its radical agenda by overtly lobbying Republican lawmakers and staffers. By sending a delegation of “conservative” staff members to CPAC and by placing op-eds in Washington papers from a “conservative” employee—not to mention a column from one employee’s mother—HSUS has tried to normalize its repugnant brand of animal justice by making palatable arguments for animal welfare without mention of its overall goal to drastically reduce, and ultimately eliminate, all farm animals and pets.

    Parties on both sides of the aisle should reject HSUS.

    Posted on 05/23/2017 at 10:41 am by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: Gov't, Lobbying, Politics


  • State Supreme Court: HSUS Offers Opinions, Not Facts

    The Missouri Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling last week in a lawsuit filed by a Missouri dog breeder against the Humane Society of the United States for defamation and invasion of privacy. The plaintiff, Mary Ann Smith, who is the mother of a U.S. Congressman, alleged HSUS defamed her by calling her kennel a “puppy mill” in a 2010 report. There was suspicion that HSUS targeted her because it had a political problem with her son, who served in the state legislature and tussled with HSUS before joining Congress.

    HSUS tried to have the case dismissed by arguing that “puppy mill” is an opinion, which is protected speech. A lower court agreed, a court of appeals reversed, and the state Supreme Court now has ruled that “puppy mill” was indeed a protected “opinion” and therefore couldn’t be defamatory. Had it considered “puppy mill” a fact, the phrase could have been defamatory.

    While it would have been nice to see HSUS taken to trial to defend its use of the slur—particularly since its M.O. often involves smearing and threatening people—on the bright side, we’d like to thank the court for clarifying that HSUS offers “opinions,” not facts.

    Coincidentally, we’re putting together an ad. The ad will of course contain facts, such as the fact that HSUS only gives 1% of its money to pet shelters, according to its tax return. But we could also use a few colorful “opinions” to spice it up. Perhaps we’ll call HSUS “puppy exploiters” for the way they raise money with sad dogs and then shortchange pet shelters. Or perhaps we’ll label them “women abusers” for how they rip off their (mostly female) donors?

    Leave a comment below with your best opinion and we might use it.

    Posted on 05/01/2017 at 9:49 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Courtroom DramaGov't, Lobbying, Politics


  • Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train (2017 Edition)

    When it comes to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), we have never had high hopes that it would live up to its heart-wrenching advertisements and actually help shelter animals. Historically, HSUS would rather spend money on lawyers and lobbyists. But after analyzing its financials from the most recent IRS Form 990 tax return, even we were stunned at the paltry 0.68% of the total budget that was spent on grants for pet care in 2015.

    More takeaways include:

    • HSUS has stashed away over $58 million in Caribbean hedge funds, showing how it prioritizes Caribbean tax shelters over American animal shelters.
    • Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, received a nearly $24,000 raise, increasing his compensation to $448,980, or about half of what HSUS spent on pet-care grants. No wonder he could buy a $1.1 million house in cash.
    • HSUS spent $5.8 million of donor money on hiring Quadriga Art—a fundraising group that was exposed in national media and paid over $20 million to the New York Attorney General to settle a deceptive-fundraising investigation the previous year.
    • HSUS spent over $40 million on fundraising costs, or over 29% of its total expenses. Including management and general expenses that total increases to 31%. That’s not an overhead percentage to write home about.
    • HSUS spent $4.1 million on lobbying, with $1.1 million going to Massachusetts Question 3, a referendum that dramatically increases the cost of pork and eggs by banning the sale of commonly produced eggs and pork products. This will ultimately hit the poorest residents of Massachusetts the hardest.
    • HSUS spent over $3 million on its pension plan—more than three times its grants for pet care.

    As “charities” go, HSUS is a bad investment. With so much money spent on superfluous legal and lobbying staff and fees, it’s no wonder that the organization’s impact on helping shelter pets is so limited. If you want to help pets, then please donate to a local shelter where your dollars will go the furthest, and spread the word about the deceitful advertising by HSUS.

    Posted on 04/12/2017 at 1:52 pm by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: Annual ReportsDocument AnalysisExecutive StaffFinancial DocumentsFundraising & MoneyGov't, Lobbying, Politics


  • HSUS Helps PETA-Linked Group Lobby on Capitol Hill

    If you watch any of the ads from the Humane Society of the United States you likely think it’s related to all the local humane societies that care for pets—name confusion is how it raises millions of dollars a year. HSUS also likes to imply that it’s a mainstream animal welfare group that doesn’t work together with radical animal rights groups. Given how many staff members at HSUS come from PETA and other extremist elements, we know that’s not true. And emails from an ethics investigation is one more bit of evidence that HSUS works with fringe elements.

    The emails come from a Congressional ethics investigation involving former Congressman Ed Whitfield and his wife, who is an HSUS lobbyist. Whitfield resigned last year after the investigation reprimanded Rep. Whitfield for giving his wife special privileges by allowing her to use his office’s resources to further HSUS’s lobbying.

    The emails show that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) asked HSUS for help in getting sponsors on a bill to ban the military from using animals to practice battlefield medical procedures, and received it:

    “I’d be more than happy to help hook you up with our friends in [Sen.] Blumenthal’s office,” replied Jessica Feingold-Lieberson, then with HSUS. (She’s the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, who lost last fall despite HSUS’s political arm spending a pretty penny on ads in his favor.)

    What is the “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”? It’s a PETA-linked group that advocates for veganism while wearing white coats. PCRM has received funding from The PETA Foundation, and PCRM president Neal Barnard reportedly lived with PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. Barnard also “co-signed letters, on PCRM letterhead, with the leader of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an animal-rights group the Department of Justice calls a ‘domestic terrorist threat,’” according to Newsweek, and has uttered such ridiculous proclamations as, “To give a child animal products is a form of child abuse.” (Kids who enjoy chocolate milk would disagree.)

    The American Medical Association has previously called PCRM a “fringe organization” that uses “unethical tactics” and is “interested in perverting medical science.”

    Last we heard, only around 10% of PCRM’s members were actually physicians. No surprise why: PCRM is notorious for campaigns comparing hot dogs to cigarettes. Its advocacy is as silly as PETA’s; even The Daily Show couldn’t resist making fun of PCRM a few years ago.

    That’s probably why HSUS doesn’t publicly work with PCRM. But when it comes to fringe animal liberation groups, HSUS is all too happy to assist under the radar.

    Posted on 04/05/2017 at 10:28 am by Humane Watch Team.

    Topics: Gov't, Lobbying, PoliticsLobbyists


  • HSUS Political Arm in Trouble with the FEC

    On Monday, the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) was sent a letter by the Federal Election Committee (FEC) for a 2016 campaign violation. In the run-up to Election Day, nearly $80,000 was reported to the FEC outside of the 24-hour window allowed for such expenditures.

    Paperwork mishaps can happen to any organization every once in a while, but HSLF has a history of these “errors.” In 2014, they had two “requests for additional information” pertaining to the tardiness of their fillings, which followed the 2012 cycle that saw three of the same violation.

    Given HSUS laid off dozens of people last fall, perhaps it’s understandable that things were running a little behind. But HSUS should know, if you’re going to play the game, you’ve got to play by the rules.

    Posted on 03/29/2017 at 3:50 pm by HumaneWatch Team.

    Topics: Document AnalysisGov't, Lobbying, PoliticsGovernment Documents