Posted: Thursday, November 01, 2012 1:00 AM
It is no secret that the Humane Society of the United States spends millions of dollars each year caring for the organization's favorite politicians, lobbying and political bulldozing.
An examination of HSUS tax returns we published last spring showed the organization spent more than $36 million on political campaigns and lobbying during the past 11 years.
The high-water mark was in 2008, when HSUS and related individuals contributed $4.1 million -- nearly half the total spent by proponents -- to push Proposition 2, a California ballot measure to regulate how egg-laying chickens are treated.
The organization's political action committee, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, spent $3.3 million last year alone pushing its anti-animal agriculture agenda in Congress and in newsletters and advertising.
This year HSUS, through its legislative fund, has entered uncharted political waters. In Iowa, the legislative fund has spent $592,620 airing attack ads, sending out direct mail propaganda and even paying for a telephone bank to run down Rep. Steve King, who is seeking election to a seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
His sin: He has criticized HSUS-backed laws, including Proposition 2, because he doesn't want to see a patchwork of state laws dictating how livestock and poultry should be raised. Farms in his Iowa district produce about 30 percent of the eggs sold in California. The way Proposition 2 was written, Iowa farmers are forced to abide by California law in how they treat their chickens.
That one state can in effect export its law to other states raises a serious question regarding interstate commerce. That 50 states could potentially have 50 different laws is an even more serious question not only regarding chickens but any other type of interstate commerce.
That is a legitimate point, but the HSUS folks apparently don't like members of Congress questioning their infallibility.
Beyond that, HSUS -- some of its board members also serve on the board of the legislative fund -- has created a huge problem for King's opponent, Christie Vilsack, wife of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. To her credit, she has rejected contributions from groups or companies that lobby USDA. That includes $1,000 the HSUS Legislative Fund tried to give directly to her campaign.
However, she has apparently done nothing to dissuade HSUS and its legislative fund from spending nearly $600,000 to get her elected. According to Federal Election Commission filings, she has raised $2.6 million for her campaign. The amount the Humane Society Legislative Fund has spent to defeat her opponent is like getting a 22 percent bump in her campaign funding.
If HSUS is successful and candidate Vilsack is elected, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack could find himself in an interesting predicament when the HSUS comes calling.
As the old Washington, D.C., adage goes, "Money talks."