Just days after being forced to defend itself for socking millions of dollars away in Caribbean hedge funds and overpaying staff, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is suing the Oklahoma Attorney General in an effort to stonewall an investigation into its deceptive fundraising practices.
According to news reports, HSUS has refused to release documents that the Oklahoma official has requested as part of a civil investigation. HSUS was given several time extensions but responded with a lawsuit instead of coming clean.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced last February that his office would open an investigation into the extreme animal rights organization, which is known for selling overpriced jewelry to misled pet lovers. A statement from the Attorney General’s office explained:
The concern is that the HSUS projects heart-wrenching imagery of puppies and kittens in solicitations in order to extract donations from unsuspecting Oklahomans who believe their donations are going to help local animal shelters, but instead, their hard-earned money may go to high-powered lobbying and special interest campaigns that are determined to shape state and federal legislation that would harm farmers, ranchers and other Oklahomans.
Not long after the announcement of the investigation, HSUS and its co-defendants, including two HSUS employees, agreed to pay $15.75 million to settle a long-fought lawsuit filed against them in New York under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act—a law that’s been used to go after the mob.
The settlement prompted Charity Navigator, a charity evaluator, to remove its rating of HSUS and replace it with a “donor advisory.”
As HumaneWatch has documented, only 1 percent of HSUS’s budget is given to local shelters. Following that revelation, public support for HSUS declined.
If it has nothing to hide, HSUS should stop stonewalling and cooperate fully with Attorney General Pruitt’s investigation into its fundraising practices. Of course, it’s likely that a group that paid millions to settle a federal racketeering, fraud and bribery lawsuit has plenty it wants to keep under wraps.
TIMELINE OF INVESTIGATION INTO DECEPTIVE FUNDRAISING PRACTICES OF HSUS:
February 18, 2014 – AG Pruitt announces investigation into fundraising efforts of HSUS. (more information)
March 12, 2014 – AG Pruitt releases a consumer alert regarding national animal groups such as HSUS. (more information)
May 15, 2014 – HSUS and its co-defendants, including two HSUS employees, agree to pay $15.75 million to settle a long-fought racketeering lawsuit filed against them. (more information)
June 17, 2014 – Charity Navigator removes its rating of HSUS and replaces it with a “donor advisory”. (more information)
July 22, 2014 – AG Pruitt announces that he has issued subpoenas to HSUS. This comes following HSUS fundraiser Quadriga Art paying $25 million to settle claims of misconduct involving solicitations for veterans charities. (more information)
January 21, 2015 – HSUS sues AG Pruitt in an attempt to stonewall his ongoing investigation into their deceptive fundraising practices. (more information)