Sunday, August 5

Strange bedfellows accuse Humane Society of "fudging it" in fundraising appeal

I don't like the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). For me, the group has never been able to elevate above its reputation that it was anymore more than a conservative front group with questionable funding sources.

The group was created in 1995 as the Guest Choice Network by Richard Berman, executive director of the public affairs firm Berman and Company, with $600,000 from the Philip Morris tobacco company. It didn't take long for CCF to get donations from the same companies Richard Berman represented through trades association.

The supporters list as of December 1996 included Alliance Gaming (slot machines), Anheuser-Busch (beer), Bruss Company (steaks and chops), Cargill Processed Meat Products, Davidoff (cigars), Harrah's (casinos), Overhill Farms (frozen foods), Philip Morris, and Standard Meat Company (steaks). The group's Advisory Panel comprised representatives from most of these companies, plus further representatives from the restaurant industry, Senator George McGovern, and Carl Vogt of law firm Fulbright and Jaworski.
Make no mistake. The CCF has a scary agenda. It has been set up to expose embarrassing missteps of grassroots local groups that challenge the industries represented by Richard Berman.

So, I knew I was going to have a problem when a longtime reader sent me an email asking me simply to consider a link to a webpage set up by CCF that accuses The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) of intentional deception during its recent fundraising campaign on the Michael Vick dogfighting case.

Let’s recap: Vick was indicted on July 17. The next day, HSUS was raising money on the promise that it would be used to “care for” Vick’s dogs.

The Humane Society must have realized they shouldn't be raising "restricted gifts" if the group wasn't going to be closely involved with the case. So they changed their website to a more generic dogfighting message. It's interesting that the "Vick campaign" fundraising page doesn't mention Vick's name at all.

The expose at CCF points to recent article in the New York Times that not only wasn’t HSUS “caring for” them, but its president had no idea who is, or where. And -- oh, yes -- he’d very much like them dead.

Wow. That's a pretty fierce critique of HSUS's aggressive fundraising. No fundraiser wants to get caught raising money for something it might not even be doing. But would it change your mind about giving a potential donation - just because they sent a fundraising email saying they were going to care for the dogs seized and then weren't involved in that process?

And does it change your mind that this information is coming from the Center for Consumer Freedom - a group I describe as a front group for conservative business interests?

Strange bedfellows indeed... and that's without even talking about the identity of the person who send us the email tip ...or even the writer on this blog.

UPDATE: Wayne Pacelle, thePresident and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, posted this response to the CCF on his blog.


Anonymous said...

The response from the Humane Society is awesome because it shows the power that nonprofit leaders have in confronting bad press quickly - if they have their own blog... but unfortunately, he doesn't respond to the screenshot of the restricted gift fundraiser that was sent when the story first broke.

John H. said...

I will still donate to the Humane Society because of all their great work. I admit this looks bad - but we all make mistakes.

a fundraiser said...

Here is a great expose on CCF: