Did You See Us on the NYT Front Page?

Try as they might, the Humane Society of the United States laid a big egg this morning. HSUS’s well-paid spin doctors pitched a story to a New York Times reporter a few months ago, trying to convince her that there was something evil afoot with HumaneWatch. But at the end of the day, despite their best efforts (and a raft of reporting errors), the story was a great big nothing.

Not only that, but HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle is oozing sanctimony on his blog today. Haven’t seen it? You’re not alone. Because—guess what?—HumaneWatch has been consistently attracting more traffic than Pacelle’s blog for a few months now.

The bottom line is that Pacelle—whose HSUS has a horrible 1-star rating for organizational efficiency from the respected Charity Navigator organization—apparently doesn’t understand how to run an organization that actually gets meaningful things done. Witness HSUS’s anemic response to the Gulf oil spill. Or the group’s embarrassing habit of diverting more than 99 percent of its income away from pet shelters. Or the millions it wastes every year paying a company just to count its Scrooge McDuck-like fundraising windfalls.

Apparently, the worst thing Pacelle (and theTimes) can say about the Center for Consumer Freedom is that it efficiently reimburses its management company for a lot of expenses. Billboards in Times Square and full-page ads in big national newspapers aren’t cheap. But a management firm can negotiate better rates than a tiny charity. It can save nonprofit groups loads of dough by pooling resources with other nonprofits. Think of it like Costco: There’s great savings in numbers. That sure doesn’t mean the company that manages the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (which owns HumaneWatch) is raking in the dough.

Pacelle has been reduced to a punchline, a hatchet-man who can’t think of anything better to do than lash out at organizations that are far more effective with far, far less money. Keep in mind that CCF operates on less than 3 percent of HSUS’s budget. (We spend less on everything we do than HSUS puts in its wealthy executive pension plan.) In this David vs. Goliath story, we’re holding the pea-shooter.

None of this, of course, will distract us from the sham that HSUS has become. Wayne Pacelle can’t run from his own record of waste, fraud, and abuse. And since when was a little sunlight a bad thing, anyway?