We’ve solved a little mystery about the $15.75 million settlement in May of a federal racketeering and bribery lawsuit against the Humane Society of the United States and other activists. When the settlement was announced, HSUS declined to say how much it paid. Now we know: HSUS and its affiliate the Fund for Animals paid nearly $6 million, according to their consolidated financial statement.
On its tax return for 2013, HSUS declares $4.4 million in settlement expenses and the Fund for Animals declares $1.2 million—making up almost all of the $5.675 million settlement. Amusingly, the vast majority of the settlement is characterized as a “program” expense—but somehow we don’t think it will make it into HSUS’s next annual report.
This is donor money—HSUS’s insurance provider denied HSUS coverage for the litigation. That’s a fact HSUS danced around and omitted when it commented on the settlement, saying things like it expected insurance would cover most of all of the settlement and “in the end, that no donor dollars from the HSUS will go to Feld [Entertainment],” the plaintiff. Considering the settlement was paid in May, donor dollars already went to pay the racketeering settlement.
Fortunately, HSUS didn’t escape scrutiny from third parties. In fact, Charity Navigator yanked its rating of HSUS and replaced it with a “Donor Advisory” to the public. HSUS can pay a witness, but it can’t buy itself out of that jam.