Editor's note: The following is a commentary by HumaneWatch.org - Keeping a watchful eye on the Humane Society of the United States.
HSUS’s lobbying arm, the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), made incumbent Rep. Steve King, R- Iowa, its major target. Filings from the Federal Election Commission show HSLF spent more than $750,000 to oppose King, insinuating he supported dogfighting.
Wayne Pacelle, HSUS CEO, also launched scurrilous attacks against King’s character, apparently in retaliation for the Congressman pushing pro-farmer legislation that would undo HSUS gains in increasing the cost of eggs and other food products from animals.
The result? Steve King won re-election handily, and HSUS’s lobbying arm added to the egg on its face with a complete whiff.
HSLF also spent $100,000 to try to defeat U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and failed, and also failed in its bid to unseat Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
In North Dakota, HSUS went in heavy behind Measure 5, a ballot initiative to make certain forms of animal cruelty a felony. HSUS and HSLF poured in more than $675,000 to support the measure, which dwarfed the contributions to the opposition campaign.
However, the farming and ranching community in North Dakota didn’t like HSUS’s involvement—it knows all about HSUS’s anti-farmer agenda—and was joined by a number of local veterinarians and animal welfare advocates. They also questioned the wording of the initiative and proposed a legislative solution for next session that will pass similar laws (without HSUS at the table). And they won—by a whopping margin of 65 percent to 35 percent. Further, a pro-farming constitutional amendment passed in North Dakota by a similar two-to-one margin, dealing another blow to any future HSUS designs for the state.
And let’s not forget the ballot measures that never came to be. HSUS dropped its planned initiative in Oregon to attack egg farmers after the main national egg trade group agreed last year to pursue federal “compromise” legislation—which has gone nowhere. And HSUS strangely abandoned its “Your Vote Counts” Missouri initiative this spring, possibly fearing another bit of bipartisan blowback in the Show Me State, after it had pumped several hundred thousand dollars into the campaign—again, money that donors likely thought was being used to help animals, not fund a political campaign to tweak legislative vote requirements.
We also noticed that the Humane USA Political Action Committee has now apparently folded. Humane USA, whose board included HSUS board members and staff, apparently filed a termination report with the FEC in October. Humane USA PAC’s website now redirects to a donation page for HSLF.
On a final note, HSUS state director Sarah Speed lost her bid for Pennsylvania state house. She wasn’t running on an animal rights platform, but obviously she would have been an open door for HSUS in the legislature.
In all, HSUS and its legislative arm spent bundles of money and came up empty. And for homeless animals in need, it’s a lost opportunity.