HSUS/Fund for Animals Merger Apparently A Done Deal

The rumored merger between the Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals appears to be a done deal.

The Associated Press reports that the new organization will be headquartered in Washington, DC, where HSUS is currently located, but will maintain an office in New York where the FUnd for Animals is located.

Along with the merger, the groups plan to launch a new 501c(4) group to increase the amount that they can spend on political lobbying. Both Fund for Animals and HSUS are organized as 501c(3) which strictly limits the amount of lobbying they can do. Animal rights magazine “Animal People” obtained a memo written by Fund for Animals president Mark Markarian in which Markarian wrote,

“A key component of the merger would be the launch of a new 501(c)(4) organization which could spend unlimited resources on lobbying. It would raise money specifically for lobbying.” The new entity might be named either, “The Humane Fund for Animals” or “The Humane Society Fund for Animals,” the memo indicated.

“As you know,” Markarian and the memo continued, “The Fund and HSUS are both [IRS classification] 501(c)(3) organizations, and both currently face lobbying limits that severely encumber their effectiveness. HSUS must limit its [political] spending to $1 million per year—just 1.3 percent of total spending. The Fund must limit its expenditures to $450,000—about 6% of total spending. These hard caps cannot be consistently exceeded without risking the loss of our charitable status.

“In short, as our organizations grow, our lobbying programs cannot grow commensurately because of the rigid formulas established by the IRS. The HSUS spending cap is frozen at $1 million, no matter how much HSUS grows. The spending limit is the same whether an organization’s annual budget is $20 million, $80 million, or $200 million. As wages, benefits, printing, postage, and other expenditures rise from inflationary pressures, we face shrinking ability to spend in the lobbying domain.”

Markarian and the memo pointed out that the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund “distributes in excess of $5 million per year, and its lobbying arm spends nearly $20 million. Other political opponents, including the American Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers Council, Safari Club International, and Feld Entertainment, spend millions more on political activity. We are at a distinct and often insurmountable disadvantage,” Markarian and the memo contended, “when we attempt to push sweeping and meaningful reforms.

“Our hope,” Markarian and the memo said, “is that a single 501(c)(4), viewed as the political lobbying arm of both organizations, would appeal to donors from both The HSUS and The Fund. Within a few years, it is not unreasonable to think that the 501(c)(4) may be able to spend upward of $10 to $15 million on political activities—representing an increase in spending in this domain by a factor of 10.”

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance issued a press release on Nov. 19 saying that it had talked to Scripps Howard News Service reporter Lance Gay and that,

Gay stated that sources within the groups confirmed that the new organization would seek to ban bowhunting as a priority.

Pacelle has also been making noise about removing the exemption for poultry under the Humane Slaughter Act.

According to an article by Lance Gay, Pacelle apparently is looking to possibly merging with other groups as well,

Pacelle said he would like to further unify the animal rights movement in the United States through other mergers, or by creating an umbrella organization that could carry more political clout in Washington.

Sources:

Animal rights groups to merge. Associated Press, November 19, 2004.

Animal rights groups to announce plan to merge, ban bowhunting. Press release, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, November 19, 2004.

HSUS to merge with Fund for Animals. Lance Gay, Scripps Howard, November 22, 2004.

The Fund, HSUS, and merging packs. Animal People Online, September 2004.

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