Letter from the California Attorney General to HSUS, Dec. 6, 1990

This letter to Humane Society of the United States Board Chairman K. William Wiseman is dated December 6, 1990. It was sent by California Attorney General John Van De Kamp and Deputy Attorney General Yeoryios Apalla.

In it, the California AG’s office gives HSUS two weeks to turn over a wide variety of documents—including Board minutes and recordings of meetings, and copies of financial records—related to the financial scandal that enveloped HSUS’s president and treasurer from 1985 to 1989.

The letter reads, in part:

Information obtained by this office reveals that certain principals of the organization have engaged in a course of conduct that, in our opinion, is a violation of fiduciary duties owed to the charitable beneficiaries of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), among them citizens of this state.

Information in our possession indicates the following:

  • The senior officers of HSUS, Messrs. Hoyt and Irwin, received significant sums of money in the form of compensation some of which was never authorized by the Board of Directors;
  • In May, 1987, HSUS purchased Mr. Hoyt’s home for 310,000 and leased it back to him rent-free, declaring the foregone rent to be additional compensarion; W-2s were issued to My. Hoyt which reported to IRS a rental value of $600/month;
  • The Deferred Compensation Committee, whose legitimacy is in question, acted in excess of its authority in transferring certain life insurance policies to senior management and approving reimbursement to Mr. Irwin of some $85,000 for funds he expended in improving a piece of property in Maine.

It’s unclear how (or if) HSUS responded to this inquiry.