The past year or so has not been an easy one for the Humane Society of the United States in Oklahoma, especially with the state’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt around.
As I previously reported, Pruitt launched an investigation into HSUS’s fundraising activities last year. Later in the year, Pruitt issued a consumer alert when he became suspicious of the group’s fundraising efforts following tornadoes that devastated parts of the state. HSUS said it wanted to help pets displaced by the disaster and collected donations to do so, but Pruitt was skeptical of the group’s intentions and where the money was really being spent.
The main thrust of Pruitt’s investigations have focused on the solicitations made by the animal rights organization. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office is looking at whether donations made to the organization are being used for helping pets in Oklahoma, or whether those donations are going to more nefarious purposes. HSUS is notorious for its late night tear-jerker commercials of sad looking puppies and kittens. But while the group’s name and advertising suggests that donations will be used for local animal shelters, the reality is that HSUS uses a large chunk of cash attacking animal agriculture each year.
The lawsuit filed by HSUS is asking the judge to halt the investigation and stop them from having to hand over additional paperwork to the AG’s office.
In a press release, Pruitt’s office stated:
The attorney general’s office is reviewing the solicitation practices of the HSUS in order to address concerns that the group’s solicitations in Oklahoma may be misleading. The concern is that the HSUS projects heart-wrenching imagery of puppies and kittens in solicitations in order to extract donations from unsuspecting Oklahomans who believe their donations are going to help local animal shelters, but instead, their hard-earned money may go to high-powered lobbying and special interest campaigns that are determined to shape state and federal legislation that would harm farmers, ranchers and other Oklahomans.
In a further statement, Julie Bays, chief of the Oklahoma attorney general’s public protection unit, expressed confusion as to why HSUS is trying to interfere with the investigation, especially when they continue to claim they’ve done nothing wrong. In a statement she said:
Instead of respecting the donations of generous Oklahomans by providing clarity that such donations were used for the purposes represented in solicitations, the HSUS has decided to sue the attorney general’s office and wage a duplicitous war of misinformation against the people of Oklahoma.
I can’t really say that I am surprised that HSUS does not want to cooperate in the investigation. Anyone that follows the activity of this organization understands that they use the sad faced pets to raise money, and then use that money to fund campaigns against animal agriculture. (You can see a nice graph here of where the group’s annual budget is actually spent.)
I would love for HSUS just to come out and admit the real purpose here. Of course, if they really did that, then there’s no way they would be able to solicit the same amount of donations. People will respond to helping animals, especially pet lovers. But it would be a lot more difficult to solicit donations to campaign against animal husbandry on family farms.
Pruitt and his office seem to understand that and that’s what counts. Even if this lawsuit is successful for HSUS, at least the investigation and consumer alert by the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office has put the spotlight on this group and helped some folks wake up to their real agenda.
You can read more about the lawsuit and investigation at The Okalahoman.