The Humane Society of the United States only gives 1% of its budget to local pet shelters. Where does the rest of the money go? A significant amount is spent on employing dozens of in-house lawyers, which leads to frivolous litigation. The latest HSUS “fail” is a lawsuit intended to harass the pork industry.
Last year, as a part of its campaign of harassment against pork farmers, HSUS sued the USDA over an action by the National Pork Board, the quasi-governmental pork checkoff program that the agency oversees. Checkoff money is mandatory and goes toward research and general promotion of pork consumption.
If you’ve seen commercials promoting pork as “Pork: The Other White Meat,” that’s what the case was about. In 2006, the National Pork Board purchased the slogan from the National Pork Producers Council, which is a private trade organization for pork farmers, and agreed to pay $60 million over 20 years. HSUS concocted a theory that the National Pork Board, by paying for the slogan, was illegally sending checkoff money (which was collected for marketing and research purposes) to the Pork Council, which is allowed to lobby—something the Pork Board is not allowed to spend money on.
But HSUS’s lawsuit didn’t get far. A federal judge dismissed the suit yesterday, finding that HSUS did not have standing to file the complaint because it has no stake in how the checkoff spends its money. (No kidding—after all, HSUS is trying to end the use of animals for food.) The judge ruled that the other two plaintiffs, a pork farmer and a left-wing Iowa group, also did not have standing.
You can read the 34-page opinion here. It’s a thorough dissection.
Here’s a bigger question: How much money did HSUS waste on this suit that could have been spent on helping pets? Where in HSUS’s mission does it state that it cares about pork marketing money?
The entire suit smelled like sour grapes to us. HSUS doesn’t like the Pork Council, so it crafted a lawsuit that wasted time and money in an attempt to mess with it. It strikes us as too many lawyers with too much time on their hands. HSUS supported another lawsuit last year against another checkoff—the beef checkoff—but that went nowhere fast, with the plaintiff, an HSUS “ag council” member, dropping the suit.
Strangely, you don’t see all these lawyers in HSUS commercials. That’s why we made a parody: Lawyers in Cages.
Speaking of lawsuits, there’s one piece of litigation that HSUS must want to go away: The federal RICO lawsuit fingering HSUS and two of its in-house lawyers, including a senior vice president who runs HSUS’s legal department. That lawsuit alleges malicious prosecution and abuse of process, among other claims. That litigation, according to court documents, is moving toward discovery and depositions. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.