Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle brags on his own blog that “Few are in a position to speak for the animals like Wayne Pacelle.” But do the animals really want this self-anointed “spokesman”?
Since joining HSUS, Pacelle has taken about $3.4 million in compensation. In 2012, Pacelle took in nearly $400,000, and we expect that figure to rise in 2013, bringing his total close to $4 million. And yet, here’s a guy taking animal lovers’ money who has written that “I don’t love animals or think they are cute.” Pacelle has also said, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.”
So what’s his real motivation? Money and self-aggrandizement, we wager.
Along with the hefty bank he’s pulled in for himself at HSUS, Pacelle seems to have received quite a few perks in the past few years. He released a book in 2011 called The Bond, which was slated for a six-city book tour. The irony of his book’s title? Pacelle said previously that “there’s no special bond between me and other animals.”
But Pacelle does seem to have bond between him and the limelight. The six-city book tour quickly morphed into a 100-city, 18-month book tour. Pacelle even wound up hawking his book in India. That’s a nice little tour to sell books and spread his brand around, and Pacelle is making money personally from the sale of his books—and it’s likely his travel was paid for on the dime of HSUS donors. (If we’re wrong, we’d love to see proof.)
Pacelle is now reportedly working on a second book about the “humane economy.” Perhaps that will be a 200-city, 100-country tour. Pacelle’s that important, after all. (And doesn’t he deserve a trip to the Bahamas to promote it while working on his tan?)
Then there are the glitzy galas that HSUS puts on. These events allow Wayne Pacelle to hit the red carpet with celebrities, socialites, and the wealthy, like the daughter of billionaire Michael Bloomberg or B-list actresses. HSUS last week had an event in super-wealthy Palm Beach, Florida, and it is planning a 60th Anniversary Gala sometime this year.
Capitol File did a puff-piece on Pacelle earlier this year, following him around for a day. His schedule consisted of writing a blog post, visiting a Congressman, getting a vegan drink from Starbucks, having a 10-minute radio interview, and working on his new book deal, before going home to watch basketball. Nice work if you can get it.
All this adds up to a whole lot of hobnobbing, where animals are the convenient cover, but are too often left out in the cold. The respected watchdog CharityWatch finds that Pacelle’s HSUS spends as much as 45% of its budget on overhead. Donor money should be treated with more respect. But this is Wayne Pacelle’s HSUS.