Nov 12, 2006
Philip Brasher's piece in the Sunday, November 12 Des Moines Register should make you smile. It is headed, "Animal activists step up political pressure" and sub-headed, "Lawmakers who don't support certain legislation find themselves targets as groups' clout grows."
"Washington, D.C. - Republican U.S. House members Heather Wilson and Richard Pombo already had enough problems in their re-election races when a new set of opponents surfaced - animal-rights activists.
"The Humane Society Legislative Fund, a new political arm of the Humane Society of the United States, decided in September to actively work for the election or defeat of lawmakers based on issues key to the animal-welfare movement, such as banning the slaughter of horses.
"The group then spent more than $200,000 in the final four weeks of the campaign, most of it targeted at defeating two lawmakers who were in tight races, Pombo in Northern California and Wilson in New Mexico. Win or lose, the Humane Society was sending a message: Lawmakers could pay a price for their votes on issues of animal welfare.
"For a member of Congress such as Rep. Steve King, a Republican from a heavily agricultural district in western Iowa, that's no threat at all. King, an ardent opponent of banning horse slaughter, has little to fear from taking on the Humane Society.
"But to lawmakers who represent urban or suburban districts, the Humane Society is an opponent they could do without. And the livestock industry is alarmed about the organization's growing financial and political clout."
The article tells us that HSUS has been gaining clout by merging with other groups and it explains, "Unlike its parent, the Humane Society of the United States, the legislative fund is organized under a tax law that allows nonprofit groups to spend money actively campaigning for and against lawmakers. HSUS directs its spending to ballot measures and lobbying."
The piece ends with a quote from a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, "
"They are getting into the political game now. ...As big as they are, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with."
You'll find the whole article on line at:
http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061112/BUSINESS03/611120329/1001/NEWS OR http://tinyurl.com/y6az76
Though I sent the article out partly just to make you smile, I also urge you to follow up on the opportunity it presents for animal friendly letters to the editor. The Des Moines Register takes letters at http://tinyurl.com/cduqy
That page has useful tips for getting published.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To discontinue, go to http://www.DawnWatch.com/nothanks.php
You are encouraged to forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts but please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)
Brasher: Animal activists step up political pressure
WASHINGTON FARM REPORT
Lawmakers who don't support certain legislation find themselves targets as groups' clout grows.
By PHILIP BRASHER
REGISTER WASHINGTON BUREAU
November 12, 2006
Washington, D.C. - Republican U.S. House members Heather Wilson and Richard Pombo already had enough problems in their re-election races when a new set of opponents surfaced - animal-rights activists.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund, a new political arm of the Humane Society of the United States, decided in September to actively work for the election or defeat of lawmakers based on issues key to the animal-welfare movement, such as banning the slaughter of horses.
The group then spent more than $200,000 in the final four weeks of the campaign, most of it targeted at defeating two lawmakers who were in tight races, Pombo in Northern California and Wilson in New Mexico. Win or lose, the Humane Society was sending a message: Lawmakers could pay a price for their votes on issues of animal welfare.
For a member of Congress such as Rep. Steve King, a Republican from a heavily agricultural district in western Iowa, that's no threat at all. King, an ardent opponent of banning horse slaughter, has little to fear from taking on the Humane Society.
But to lawmakers who represent urban or suburban districts, the Humane Society is an opponent they could do without. And the livestock industry is alarmed about the organization's growing financial and political clout.
Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, sees her group doing for animal welfare what organizations like the National Rifle Association and the League of Conservation Voters have done for gun owners and environmentalists.
"We can make this an issue that factors into who is elected to office and who is turned out," she says.
The Humane Society has become the leading force in the animal-rights movement, surpassing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, through a series of mergers and increased fundraising.
Amundson joined the organization in September after the Humane Society took over the Doris Day Animal League.
In 2005, the Humane Society hired Paul Shapiro and Miyun Park, leaders of a group called Compassion Over Killing, fresh off their successful campaign to stop conventional egg producers from labeling cartons with the term "animal care certified."
Also in 2005, the Humane Society merged with The Fund for Animals, an anti-hunting group, and formed the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the political arm that Amundson now runs.
Unlike its parent, the Humane Society of the United States, the legislative fund is organized under a tax law that allows nonprofit groups to spend money actively campaigning for and against lawmakers. HSUS directs its spending to ballot measures and lobbying.
Between Oct. 4 and Nov. 3, the legislative fund spent nearly $220,000 on radio ads, direct mailings and canvassing homes, records show. More than $146,000 was directed against Pombo alone, $105,000 of that on radio advertising.
Pombo, who was heavily targeted by environmental groups, wound up losing his race. Wilson claimed victory, although the outcome was still contested as of Friday.
Pombo, a staunch critic of the Endangered Species Act, had enough enemies that the Humane Society can hardly be credited with defeating him.
Nevertheless, the organization's influence is growing.
HSUS says it raised about $125 million in 2005, up from less than $79,000 reported the year before.
HSUS spent $2.8 million on state ballot measures in this year's elections, including a successful measure in Arizona to restrict the way sows can be housed. That is more than five times what the group spent on 2004 ballot measures.
"They are getting into the political game now," says Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, which is concerned that the Humane Society may try to attach animal-welfare measures to the next farm bill.
"As big as they are, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with."
Nov 12, 2006 6:56pm
Nov 7, 2006
How Humane Society
Gets the Vote Out
Animal Welfare Is the Issue,
Not the Candidate's Party;
Loaded for Bear Hunters
By BRODY MULLINS
November 7, 2006; Page A1
DUBLIN, Calif. -- Wayne Pacelle marched up to a one-story house here last week, hoping to persuade the two Republicans inside to vote against incumbent Republican Rep. Richard Pombo.
"Beware of dog," read a nearby sign as Mr. Pacelle knocked on the front door. Suddenly, a pit bull charged from inside the house. Mr. Pacelle stumbled backward. The dog slammed into the door. A screen was all that separated the growling beast from the chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States.
"I may be with the Humane Society, but I prefer little dogs when I'm canvassing," said the 41-year-old Mr. Pacelle. For Mr. Pacelle, the pit bull is just one snarling obstacle in his path toward transforming the nation's largest group of pet lovers into a ferocious force in congressional elections. Call it puppy power at the polls.
For the first time in its 50-year history, the Humane Society is trying to elect candidates to Congress who support its animal-welfare agenda. After a series of mergers with other animal-welfare groups, the Humane Society counts 10 million Americans as members, an average of 23,000 in each of the 435 House districts. That's more than twice the membership of the National Rifle Association, which is considered one of the most effective single-issue campaign organizations.
More important, the Humane Society's motivating issue -- the promotion of animal welfare -- resonates with the white suburban women who could be the key block of voters who decide this election.
The Humane Society isn't campaigning for just one political party. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican from Pennsylvania, won its support this year for championing federal funding for animal-protection programs. Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen was endorsed for introducing legislation to require bitter-tasting antifreeze to discourage pets from lapping up spills.
In the House, the Humane Society is campaigning for several Republicans in close races, including Reps. John Sweeney of New York and Christopher Shays of Connecticut. Mr. Sweeney, who represents Saratoga's race track, pushed legislation through the House to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Among Republicans the Humane Society is targeting are Montana's Sen. Conrad Burns, who opposed Mr. Sweeney's horse-slaughter bill in the Senate, Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Mr. Pombo of California.
The Humane Society has endorsed more than 300 candidates for Congress. But it has spent money in just two dozen of the closest races where Mr. Pacelle believes he can swing about 5% of the vote.
"Animals are a part of the fabric of our culture, so it's inevitable that the organized network that protects animals would activate for political ends," Mr. Pacelle said in an interview. About two-thirds of households have pets. "We can be an incredibly influential political organization, as powerful as the Chamber of Commerce," Mr. Pacelle told a crowd of election volunteers in Las Vegas last week.
Carolyn Mathias, a lifelong Republican, learned from the Humane Society that the state's Republican governor, Bob Ehrlich, had approved the state's first bear hunt in 50 years. The Humane Society publicized the decision in television advertisements that featured graphic images of dead bears.
"I'm sure it must sound unusual for a Republican to suddenly not vote Republican based on one issue," Ms. Mathias says. "The way I look at this is that the bears have no political party."
It cuts both ways. When Mr. Pacelle knocked on doors in Las Vegas last week for Republican Sen. John Ensign, a veterinarian, all but one of the volunteers who accompanied him were Democratic women.
Mr. Pacelle began creating the Humane Society political operation two years ago when he was named chief of the organization. Since then, he has quietly built a formidable election campaign machine. To comply with tax and election laws, Mr. Pacelle has created two offshoots of the Humane Society to focus on election campaigns. In total, the entities have spent $3.4 million on congressional elections and ballot initiatives, more than Exxon Mobil Corp. They have contributed $150,000 to candidates for Congress, which is more than Halliburton Co. has contributed.
The Humane Society has a long history of winning state ballot initiatives on issues ranging from banning cockfighting in Oklahoma to prohibiting hunting with steel-jawed leg traps in Colorado. This year, the Humane Society is battling the NRA over dove hunting in Michigan and big agriculture over the size of pigpens in Arizona.
The Humane Society first tested the waters in congressional elections in 2004 -- and then, in just one race. In that campaign, the group campaigned against Rep. Chris John in Louisiana when the Democrat ran for an open Senate seat against Republican Rep. David Vitter. Mr. John championed the state's legalized cockfighting industry, and the Humane Society didn't want to see him in the Senate.
Polls showed that nine in 10 women in Louisiana opposed cockfighting, so the Humane Society set about to tell 300,000 white female voters that Mr. John supported the practice. The group spent $400,000 on radio ads and mailings to get the message out. When Mr. Vitter won with 51% of the vote, the Humane Society knew it could be a force.
"If we could win in 'Sportsman's Paradise,' we can win anywhere," says Mr. Pacelle. A Yale graduate, Mr. Pacelle considered going to law school before dedicating his career to the protection of animals. Mr. Pacelle says he grew up with several pets and an "unusual interest in the welfare of animals." On his way to a recent news conference, Mr. Pacelle brought his fuel-efficient 2006 Toyota Prius to a halt to let a pigeon pass in front of him. "More than one million animals are killed each day by cars," he says. Divorced, Mr. Pacelle has no pets these days because, he says, he travels too much.
In the campaign's final days, the Humane Society focused on defeating Mr. Pombo, the California Republican who chairs the House Resources Committee. From that perch, Mr. Pombo has broad authority over environmental and agriculture legislation. The Humane Society backed Democratic candidate Jerry McNerney.
The Humane Society spent more than $100,000 on radio ads and $50,000 in mailings accusing Mr. Pombo of blocking legislation to promote animal welfare. A radio ad that aired last week accused Mr. Pombo of voting to "deny funding to crack down on the barbaric practices of dog fighting and cockfighting" and opposing legislation to outlaw the slaughter of American horses, "so the French can eat horse meat as a delicacy."
Such tactics "turned what might have been a snooze of a race into a nationally watched showdown," according to an Oakland Tribune article last week.
In Oakland last week, Mr. Pacelle embarked on his door-to-door canvassing tour dressed in tan khaki pants and a T-shirt that said "Get Political for Animals." After his encounter with the pit bull, Mr. Pacelle eyed a bumper sticker on a truck parked in a driveway: "Dog is my co-pilot," it read. "This is a good sign," Mr. Pacelle said, advancing to the door. In his typical pitch, Mr. Pacelle described Mr. Pombo as "so extreme he even actively supports commercial whaling."
A spokesman for Mr. Pombo predicted the Humane Society's effort would fail because voters would view the group as too extreme. "They are basically accusing members of Congress of clubbing baby seals and kicking puppies," said Brian Kennedy, the spokesman.
That sentiment was echoed by the Republican owners of the growling pit bull. Mr. Pacelle's speech about Mr. Pombo was cut off midsentence. "I don't think he kills dogs," the occupant said, shutting the door.
Mr. Pacelle fared better a few minutes later when he spotted a young couple getting into a black Ford Mustang. "She watches Animal Planet all the time," the man yelled as he drove away. "You've got our vote."
Write to Brody Mullins at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aug 23, 2006
I have just received this code from HSUS. It makes a "clickable" graphic that says "Tell China Vaccinate Do Not Eradicate". When clicked, it brings up the HSUS webpage for their campaign to end dog "culling" in China.
Please display on your profile page here at Care2, at myspace, or any of your webpages out on this World Wide Web of ours. Tell everyone you know, to "snag" and display it. Be sure to let folks know it is "clickable" too.
Let's see how far we can spread this banner around, and how many letters we can get written for the HSUS who will be hand delivering hard copies of the letters.
I don't know if you all had luck sending your emails to the governments in China, but mine bounced back or tied up my computer for hours and never went through.
Humane Society International, the global arm of HSUS, has a long-term commitment to improving the lives of animals throughout the world and has a proven track record of success in implementing rabies prevention programs in countries where indiscriminate killing campaigns used to be practiced. So its definitely a wise investment of our time to support their efforts.
To everyone who has been working so hard for the dogs in China and for all animals suffering everywhere, my deepest heart-felt "thank you". Let's never surrender!
<a href="https://community.hsus.org/campaign/china_dogs?source=gabawe" ><img src="http://www.hsus.org/web-files/Banners/120x240chinavaccinate.gif" alt="tell china vaccinate do not eradicate" width="120" height="240" border="0"></a>
Instructions on Care2:
On your profile page, in the billboard toolbar, click "edit"
In the editor that pops up below, click "html"
Copy and paste the code above between the <>'s
Click "update" in the html box
Click "save" in the editor box and the "websticker" appears on your profile page
If you have any other questions, please let me know. I'm still new to all this stuff, so I hope that these instructions work okay.
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.
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