September 21, 2015
DENVER – A national dog fight has come to Colorado, or maybe it’s more like a hog fight.
An official complaint was lodged against the Humane Society of the United States with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office in July, alleging the nonprofit giant is running “a deceptive and fraudulent” fundraising campaign.
“Most people think that when they give money to the Humane Society of the United States it’s going to go back to the local humane society and it’s just not the case,” said Will Coggin, director of research with the Center for Consumer Freedom. “They’re not upfront with the public about what their real agenda is.”
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS, says the same thing about Coggin and the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom which is run by Richard Berman a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist who earned his reputation by representing big tobacco, the food and beverage industry and most recently the agricultural industry, including pork producers.
“Basically if you find the most disreputable causes and controversial industries, Berman is their front man,” Pacelle said. “He sets up different front groups because it makes them sound like they have a patina of legitimacy. … There’s a lot of people who don’t like what we do, a lot of people have an ax to grind, I don’t think it’s news for one of those industries to criticize us.”
Both groups have websites dedicated to exposing the “dark secrets” of the other.
Coggin doesn’t shy away from the nonprofit’s connection with Berman. Berman is the Center’s executive director, the nonprofit pays his Berman and Company to manage it. Coggin is also paid by Berman and Company.
The group’s 2013 tax return discloses almost $1.5 million in donations, with $757,379 to Berman and Company for management, advertising and research.
“In terms of our motivation, I think we are pretty up front about that,” Coggin said, acknowledging that the Center for Consumer Freedom is funded by the food and restaurant industry among many other donors.
Most recently, the center has launched ad campaigns going after Chipotle, the fast food chain that made waves for dropping pork products that contained antibiotics and went genetically modified organism free. Coggin said the center also was behind opposition to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to ban big sodas.
The Humane Society’s primary work involves campaigns to end animal cruelty, notably by lobbying for laws that end certain practices in the agricultural industry – like gestation crates for pregnant swine (enter the hog industry). HSUS aired undercover video of pork swine confined to crates, giving them barely enough room to stand up and lie down for their entire lives. A law banning gestation crates was passed in Colorado with HSUS backing.
So is there anything to the Colorado complaint? Continue at site.