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Overview Summary of Excessive Lobbying by HSUS

Should the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Issue a Bill of Indictment and Withdraw the "Public Charity," Tax-Exempt Status of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Because of the Excessive AND Under-Reported Lobbying Activities of the HSUS?

Fact 1:
The HSUS is designated by the IRS as a 501 (c) 3, tax exempt, public charity.

Fact 2:
Guidance published by the IRS establishes limitations on lobbying activities by a public charity.

Fact 3:
HSUS is aware of the limitations on lobbying by a tax-exempt, public charity, and has discussed lobbying limitations in a document with the HSUS Logo that was downloaded from the HSUS website.

Fact 4:
Mr. Wayne Pacelle is the President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and Mr. Michael Markarian is the Executive Vice President of the HSUS for External Affairs, which includes the Government Affairs Section of HSUS. Both serve on the Board of Directors of the HSUS.

Fact 5:
Mr. Markarian also serves as the President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), which is an HSUS Affiliate, and Mr. Markarian "oversees the lobbying activity of that affiliate." He is responsible for "overseeing the organization's External Affairs section, which includes its campaigns, communications, field offices, government affairs, litigation and other work."

Fact 6:
There is no known HSUS document that explicitly explains how Mr. Markarian, who is directly responsible for the "official" lobbying activities of HSUS as President of the HSLF, is able to avoid the appearance of a "conflict of interest," let alone an actual conflict of interest, with respect to his Executive Vice President responsibilities for the HSUS, and his direct and indirect participation in political campaigns.

Fact 7:
The Executive BIO of Mr. Wayne Pacelle, which is found on a document bearing the HSUS Logo that was downloaded from the HSUS Website, has the following quotes:

  • "Pacelle took office June 1, 2004 after serving for nearly 10 years as the organization's chief lobbyist and spokesperson."
  • "Since 1990, Pacelle and Markarian have directed more than 15 successful statewide ballot measure campaigns."
  • "He and HSUS have worked for the passage of more than 225 new state laws from 2006 to 2008, and he has helped to pass more than 15 federal statutes to protect animals in the last decade."
  • "Pacelle . . . is the founder of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, a 501 (c) (4) social welfare organization that lobbies for animal welfare legislation and works to elect humane-minded candidates to public office. Working with both organizations, Pacelle has helped to defeat some of the strong antri-animal welfare politicians in the United States, including Rep. Richard Pombo of California (2006) and Rep. Chris John of Louisiana (2004)."

Fact 8:
Mr. Pacelle publishes a "Blog" which may be downloaded from the HSUS Website. In addition to the above quotes, several of the quotes from Mr. Pacelle's Blog appear to be in conflict with the above quoted IRS limitations on lobbying activities by a tax-exempt, public charity.

Fact 9:
Periodically, Mr. Pacelle sends E-Mails to many of HSUS's purported 11 Million Members and urges them to sign petitions to go to the White House or to contact their Members of Congress to vote a certain way on pending legislation.

Fact 10:
The above referenced "100 immediate steps" are set out in a 13 page document that bears the Logo of HSUS, and its comprehensive breadth details a 2009 "Change Agenda For Animals," which Agenda sets out the HSUS 2009 initiatives, such as the creation of an "Animal Protection Liaison in the White House," and the creation of an "Animal Protection Division in the Justice Department," as well as 100 other initiatives that it plans to pursue with U.S. Federal Offices.

Fact 11:
On May 29, 2009 HSUS posted its "Major accomplishments for animals since 2006" on its Website.

Fact 12:
HSUS Website Link entitled "Federal Legislation" boasting the magnitude of the lobbying efforts.

Fact 13:
The "Humane Scorecard" is a 14-page document that chronicles the voting record of every Member of Congress on bills supported by the HSUS, and it assigns a "score" for every member of Congress who received perfect scores of 100% on the Annual Humane Scorecard."

Fact 14:
Periodically, HSUS updates it "Action Alerts" Link, which has a preamble which reads: "Your action is critical to protecting animals from inhumane treatment and cruelty, and we want to make it easy for you to take action. Whether you are contacting your state or federal legislators, participating in one or our major campaigns, . . . you are making a difference for animals."

Fact 15:
More than 350 pages of Documents relating to the comprehensive Lobbying Activities of HSUS at the Federal and State Level, as well as detailed Guidance Documents published and distributed by the HSUS, may be downloaded from the HSUS Website.

Fact 16:
Each year HSUS sponsors major lobbying events in Washington DC and throughout the United States.

Fact 17:
The Humane Society of the United States sponsored an event in the Washington DC area that ran from July 23 through July 27, 2009.

Fact 18:
In addition to HSUS being very active in its lobby activities at the Federal Level, HSUS has been active at the State Level as well, as reflected by some of the Documents downloaded from the HSUS website.

Fact 19:
The "Search Results" for the phrase "lobbying activities" on the HSUS Website on August 13, 2009 "yielded 100 items results."

Fact 20:
The "Search Results" for the word "lobbying" on the HSUS Website on August 17, 2009 also "yielded 100 items results." (NOTE: These 100 articles were different than the 100 articles that were listed when the phrase "lobbying activities" was used. Thus, in addition to the documents in support of FACTS 1-18, there are 200 additional documents that discuss the lobbying activities of the HSUS.)

Fact 21:
On Line 47 of Page 16 of the HSUS IRS Form 990 Tax Return for 2004, the HSUS stated that its "Total Lobbying Expenditures" was $1,010,163, and that its "Grassroots Lobbying Expenditures" was $126,162. (NOTE: Mr.Pacelle established the Humane Society Legislative Fund in 2004, which was the first year that the "reported" lobbying expenditures of the HSUS had exceeded One Million Dollars.)

Fact 22:
On Page 18 of the HSUS IRS Form 990 Tax Return for 2005, the HSUS stated that its "Total Lobbying Expenditures" was $1,859,148. In response to the following questions on that Page: "(D)uring the year, did the organization attempt to influence national, state or local regulation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum, through the use of "Volunteers" or "Paid staff or management," the answers to those two question were "NO" AND "NO." Despite answering "NO" to those two questions, HSUS used three pages to describe its "Lobbying Activities," "Federal Activities" and "State Activities" on its 2005 IRS Form 990 Tax Return.

Fact 23:
On Page 20 of the HSUS IRS Form 990 Tax Return for 2006, the HSUS stated that its "Total Lobbying Expenditures" was $4,165,695. In response to the following questions on that Page: "(D)uring the year, did the organization attempt to influence national, state or local regulation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum, through the use of "Volunteers or Paid staff or management," the answers to those two question were "NO" AND "NO." Despite answering "NO" to those two questions, HSUS used three pages to describe its "Lobbying Activities," "Federal Activities" and "State Activities" on its 2006 IRS Form 990 Tax Return.

Fact 24:
On Page 17 of the HSUS IRS Form 990 Tax Return for 2007, the HSUS stated that its "Total Lobbying Expenditures" was $3,375,677. In response to the following questions on that Page: "(D)uring the year, did the organization attempt to influence national, state or local regulation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum, through the use of "Volunteers or Paid staff or management," the answers to those two question were "NO" AND "NO." Despite answering "NO" to those two questions, quotes from its description of its "Lobbying Activities" on its 2007 IRS Form 990 Tax Return include:

  • "The Humane Society of the United States plans, coordinates, and implements a public policy program. This program includes maintaining and expanding contacts with Members of Congress, State Legislators, Executive and Regulatory Agencies . . . ."
  • "At the Federal Level, the HSUS advocated for Animal Welfare Legislation relating to the following issues in 2007:" (17 Issues were listed.) A relevant quote from Page 59 of the HSUS Form 990 Tax Return for 2007 discusses various programs of the External Affairs Division, which is the responsibility of Mr. Markarian, Executive Vice President of HSUS, reads as follows: "Government Affairs focuses on Federal, State and Local Legislation."

Fact 25:
On Page 19 of the HSUS IRS Form 990 Tax Return for 2008, the HSUS stated that its "Total Lobbying Expenditures" was $4,246,732. Unlike prior year Tax Returns, HSUS did acknowledge that "Volunteers and Paid staff and management" did "attempt to influence national, state or local regulation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum." Significantly, HSUS used over 4 pages (Pages 19-24) of its Tax Return to describe its "Other Lobbying Activities."

Click here to visit the SAOVA website and click on the "HSUS - Overview summary of excessive lobbying issue paper" link to download a detailed report.


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