In March, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced that his office was opening an inquiry into the fundraising of the Humane Society of the United States, issuing a “consumer alert” to the public about national animal charities. Things have been fairly quiet in the news since then—until yesterday.
Speaking to the radio show “All Around Oklahoma Ag,” Pruitt offered an update of his office’s investigation of HSUS. Pruitt stated that his office has recently issued subpoenas to HSUS in light of the $25 million settlement that major HSUS contractor and direct-mail firm Quadriga Art agreed to with the New York Attorney General earlier this month.
Pruitt also revealed that his office has met with HSUS leadership, and it didn’t seem to go well. Pruitt says that HSUS’s reaction has been “in some respects, not good…there’s been denial.”
HSUS can deny that its fundraising is deceptive all it wants to, but we have its CEO Wayne Pacelle admitting last year, on audio, that “I think there is some confusion among the general public and I think there’s occasional confusion with, with donors.” You can’t play the denying game when you’ve already admitted that there’s a problem with your donors. Even for an organization with dozens of staff lawyers, it’s hard to talk your way around that one.
As for other states joining in an investigation of HSUS, Pruitt offered that “I’ve been in contact with other state attorneys general. We’ve talked about this on a national basis. … I don’t have concrete information about their involvement but we are talking about that.”
We’ll see—we’re hopeful that other offices will see the light about the deceptive fundraising of the Humane Society of the United States. As for Pruitt, he says, “Someone can sit across a table and say, ‘We’re doing it the right way,’ but when you raise literally hundreds of millions of dollars, and all that we see so far is less than 1 percent of those monies going into what would be considered local shelters, it is a very fair and right question to ask this organization nationally, are they being deceptive and unfair in their communications? … We intend to push that issue, we intend to find out and if in fact they are engaging in what we consider deceptive practices, we will bring enforcement actions…and seek to recover damages.”
Kudos to Pruitt for doggedly attempting to hold HSUS accountable. It sounds like he’s going to see this through.