Humane Society of the United States watchdog group has released the latest installment in its “Visual HSUS” series. The subject of the latest visual graphic is HSUS’ significant lobbying expenditures.

According to HumaneWatch, “a large chunk of the $19-per-month pledge (the amount HSUS commercials typically request) pays for lobbyists instead of pet shelters. HSUS spent, according to its own tax returns, $17.3 million lobbying governments between 2005 and 2009. Though that averages out to only around 3.5 percent of HSUS’s budget, it's far more than the group shared with hands-on pet shelters.”

“HSUS consistently violates its own Articles of Incorporation by using its donors' money to lobby legislators and run a private school,” according to the watchdog group. “Under its original articles of incorporation, HSUS is forbidden from engaging in substantial attempts to influence legislation. Specifically: No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall consist of the carrying on of propoganda [sic] or otherwise attempting to influence legislation or to participate or intervene (including the publishing and distribution of statements) in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.”

 “All charities can engage in a limited amount of direct and indirect lobbying, but too much lobbying can be grounds for the IRS to revoke a group’s nonprofit status,” says HumaneWatch.

In addition to its lobbying efforts, HSUS has set its sights on animal agriculture by spending considerable time and effort on advancing ballot initiatives at the state level. The animal rights group promotes a vegetarian lifestyle and features vegetarian meal suggestions on its website.

“Seventy-one percent of Americans believe HSUS is an umbrella group in charge of thousands of pet shelters, but that's completely untrue,” says HumaneWatch. According to the watchdog group, HSUS currently shares less than half of one percent of its budget with real humane societies and other hands-on pet shelters.

The HSUS watchdog group says the respected nonprofit charity rating service Charity Navigator has officially downgraded HSUS to a level lower than People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“Put this all together, and it's a story of fiscal mismanagement, financial misdirection, and duping the public,” according to HumaneWatch. “HSUS actively perpetuates this name confusion in its television commercials. This leaves many Americans with the false impression that HSUS is affiliated with the humane societies in their communities, and implies that (donors’) $19 per month will provide care for animals near where they live.”