The April 2001 issue of Animal People contains a story detailing charges against two high level employees of the Humane Society of the United States. A former employee claims she was fired by HSUS for questioning the use of the non-profit’s resources to apparently aid in the management of a for-profit business.
Former HSUS Legal-Exectuvie Secretary/Office Manager Nancy E. Dayton claims that HSUS president Paul Irwin fired her after she complained about what she believed were extensive and unaccounted excess benefit transactions by HSUS general counsel and vice president Roger A. Kindler and HSUS senior counsel Murdaugh Stuart Madden.
Kindler and Madden jointly do business as the law firm of Murdaugh Stuart Madden and Roger A. Kindler which handles cases in the area of tax-exempt law, trusts, wills, and other matters.
In a formal complaint to the Internal Revenue Service, Dayton alleges,
I have witnessed Roger Kindler[‘s] use of the following HSUS resources for private profit and personal gain: office space and meeting room with a prestigious business address; support staff time and services including receptionist, secretarial, accounting, runner/messenger, legal publications filing; computers, printers, copier, facsimile machine; computer software programs; office supplies; storage facilities; mailroom staff time and services; Internet access. Murdaugh Madden enjoys the same benefits.
The allegation that the duo utilize office space of the nonprofit is interesting, since Animal People reports that HSUS’ most recent IRS Form 990 filed on June 28, 2000 reports that the nonprofit received $607,231 in rental income in the previous fiscal year but doesn’t list where that rental income came from.
This is not the first time that the HSUS has been accused of illegally mixing its nonprofit ventures with private financial transactions. In the late 1980s HSUS actually bought President Emeritus John L. Hoyt’s house for $310,000, but allowed him to continue to live there rent free until critics began making a fuss. In another action designed to benefit the animals, HSUS provided the financing for Irwin to purchase beach front property in Maine during the same period.
And, of course, there was also the HSUS scandal involving their former vice president of investigations, David Willis, who was fired from HSUS for embezzling at least $93,000 from the organization.
In fact, with assets approaching $40 million, it sometimes appears that HSUS is less interested in animal rights than in making a quick buck. Animal People passed along a hilarious contradiction from the group that was originally dug up by The Whole Dog Journal. In a June 2000 edition of its e-mail newsletter, “Humane Lines,” HSUS denounced an experiment to use shock collars to condition wolves to avoid livestock. But at the same time, HSUS endorsed the PetSafe Radio Fence shock collar. Why? Because they get a small royalty from the manufacturer in exchange for their endorsement.
IRS probes alleged self-dealing by Humane Society of the U.S. Lawyers. Animal People, April 2001, p.12.