Another HSUS Front Group

In reading the Coloradoan’s coverage of our increasingly popular 50-state report titled "Not Your Local Humane Society," you might have noticed that an organization called the “National Federation of Humane Societies” (NFHS) recently sent us an angry letter:

After catching wind of the [HumaneWatch] campaign, the National Federation of Humane Societies — a comprehensive trade federation that represents the animal welfare industry — sent [the Center for Consumer Freedom] a letter regarding the situation, stating the claims by the CCF were “inaccurate based on our collective experiences.”

So you might be wondering: Is the animal sheltering community upset with HumaneWatch?

Hardly. The National Federation of Humane Societies is actually an HSUS front group. HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle co-founded it (so says his official biography), and Pacelle still sits on its Board.

So yes, we got a nasty-gram from NFHS. And yes, it went right into the trash can. But not before we made a few observations.

On its letterhead, NFHS lists its address as 808 Cottage Street SW in Vienna, Virginia. But lest you think this is a tiny local group run out of someone's basement, the Washington, DC government’s Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs lists HSUS general counsel Roger Kindler at HSUS's Washington, DC address as its official "registered agent" for legal purposes. HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle co-founded NFHS in 2006 and currently sits on its board of directors. And Humane Society University, also run by HSUS, lists NFHS as one of its two "affiliates."

Starting to get the idea? Wayne Pacelle basically used Organization A to attack HumaneWatch for putting pressure on Organization B. And then tried to make it look like an independent action.

Here's more: NFHS Executive Director Steve Putnam was a vice president at HSUS from 1997 to 2007. According to NFHS’s filings with the IRS, former HSUS door-kicker Scotlund Haisley was also an NFHS board member in the past. And on its tax returns, all the board members have the same address: 2100 L Street, the downtown Washington HSUS building.

And more: If you compare NFHS’s board with our accounting of HSUS’s outgoing grant money, the majority of NFHS’s board members represent groups that received money from HSUS between 2006 and 2008.

Still more: In 2008, NFHS only brought in $107,000 in revenue but paid Putnam more than $130,000 in salary. Those kinds of numbers aren’t exactly financially sustainable—unless you have a $192 million animal-rights sugar daddy right down the hall.

A few people have suggested that many of NFHS’s member organizations (and even more of HSUS's shelter grantees) are headed by former HSUS staffers. Wouldn't it be odd if NFHS turned out to be little more than an HSUS alumni club? If you have information that could help us investigate this, you know where to send it.