One Thing Leads to Another

Humane Watch has a full page ad in the New York Times today about HSUS. The ad reads, in part:

The Humane Society of the United States is NOT your local animal shelter. In fact, it gives less than one-half of one percent of its $100 million budget to hands-on pet shelters.

It’s always good to research any group before making a donation. Learning how your money will be spent goes a long way toward providing that peace of mind we seek when donating to a charity. To that end, users can explore HSUS relationships in detail by clicking on this interactive map. Some may be interested to explore these relationships further.

For example, the lobbying firm Hogan & Hartson lobbies/d Congress on behalf of many clients in addition to HSUS (which is a tax-exempt organization). Those clients include a number of farm related groups such as American Farmland Trust, International Dairy Foods Association, and National Chicken Council. There are many household name corporations including Wal-Mart, General Electric, Pepsi, American Express, Citibank, and Amway. Big auto is on the list as well with Ford Motor Company and General Motors. The insurance industry clients include Aflac, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, and Health Insurance Association of America. There are many clients from the pharmaceutical industry such as Bristol-Meyers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Graceway Pharmaceuticals, Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, PHRMA, and SmithKline Beecham. Other clients of interest include Monsanto Co and National Renderers Association.

According to HSUS’ 2008 tax return (pdf – page 19), they spent over $4 million on lobbying activities for the year. In the 2008 “Annual Filing for Charitable Organizations”, HSUS stated the following:

GENERAL PURPOSE FOR WHICH CONTRIBUTIONS WILL BE USED
Contributions are used to produce publications including educational materials, which are sent on a regular basis to members and the general public. The society investigates cruelty in the transportation, handling and sale of animals at pet shops, zoos, circuses and animal shelters. The Society also uses contributions for animals in the wild including wildlife refuges, predator control and people/wildlife problems.

I don’t see anything about spending millions on lobbying in there but hey, I’m not a tax professional. Maybe this is A-OK.

Related Tidbit:

On February 16, a federal lawsuit was filed against HSUS (and others) by the parent company of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus under RICO. The lawsuit alleges the defendants are using such crimes as bribery and money laundering in an effort to “unjustly enrich themselves” while working to ban elephants in circuses.

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