The Humane Society of the United States—not affiliated with local humane societies—has been reeling for several months after the resignation of CEO Wayne Pacelle after he was accused of sexually preying on staff for years. The situation began when The Washington Post reported on a leaked internal investigation into Pacelle’s conduct. The report not only detailed allegations against Pacelle, but indicated that senior management knew about his alleged misdeeds.
A follow-up report from the Post singles out Mike Markarian, COO of HSUS and president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. He was brought onboard by Pacelle in 2005 when his organization, the Fund for Animals, merged with HSUS. (Pacelle used to run the Fund as well.) The Post reports:
Melinda Fox, who worked as the senior director of outreach and strategic initiatives at the Humane Society from 2005 to 2008, said she was pushed out after expressing concerns about how Pacelle interacted with female donors.
She wrote in a widely shared Facebook post that she received “calls and emails from donors — women Wayne had affairs with, and when he turned cold with them, called [me] crying and sent lengthy emails saying they felt ‘used.’ ”
She sent “the most disturbing one” to Pacelle and Mike Markarian, the Humane Society’s current chief operating officer.
“Markarian called me into his office to tell me my job ‘was to protect Wayne,’ ” Fox wrote. “I told him it was ‘Wayne’s job to protect Wayne, and that he needed to reel himself in and stop sleeping with donors.’ ”
Did the HSUS board take this accusation seriously at all? Apparently not: Markarian has kept his position as COO of HSUS.
The Legislative Fund did announce a minor (symbolic) change: Markarian has been moved from president to executive vice president. The new president is Sara Amundson, who was senior VP and executive director. Amundson has been working in the animal-rights movement since 1988, when she joined the Doris Day Animal League, which HSUS has since taken over.
Apparently that news—which was announced several weeks ago—hasn’t crossed the hallway to HSUS. Markarian’s official HSUS bio still says he is president of the Legislative Fund.
It seems to us that HSUS management and its board of directors—is circling the wagons. Instead of running out questionable elements, they’re acting as if everything is hunky-dory and back to normal. Didn’t they learn from Pacelle that the chickens eventually come home to roost?