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HSUS President to Hold Town Hall with Farmers in Lincoln on Nov. 21

Discredited Washington operative out to gain financially by objecting to animal welfare steps

The president of The Humane Society of the United States says he’s “looking forward to meeting and speaking with members of our organization and other people interested in animal welfare” at a town hall meeting this Sunday night in Lincoln. Wayne Pacelle will appear at the town hall, sponsored by a cattle rancher who is an active member of The HSUS. Unfortunately, a notorious public relations firm, masquerading as a non-profit organization and funded by animal-abuse organizations, is seeking to polarize the debate. 

A corporate front group, known as the Center for Consumer Freedom, has placed a billboard in downtown Lincoln and misrepresented the work of The HSUS. CCF is one of more than a dozen industry front groups run by a millionaire public-relations operator Rick Berman in Washington, D.C. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that 92 percent of the money the CCF collected in 2008 went straight into the hands of Berman and his for-profit company. Berman says he runs a non-profit, but lives in a mansion in McLean, Virginia and has a fleet of cars, including a Bentley.

“Rick Berman has found a get-rich scheme – for himself,” said Jocelyn Nickerson, Nebraska state director for The HSUS. “He lives like a king in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States, and he’s done so by attacking public-interest organizations such as The Humane Society of the United States and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and made a killing by lying about their work.”

Berman has been condemned by the editorial boards of USA Today and The Washington Post for misleading the public. The New York Times, ABC News and CBS’s “60 Minutes” have also exposed the organization as a front group. CCF’s most recently available tax forms show CCF paid Berman and his firm over $1.4 million in 2008 alone.

“Berman is now trying to pick the pocket of ranchers and farmers,” says Kevin Fulton, the Nebraska cattle rancher who is organizing the town hall meeting. “People can come to the town hall for themselves and hear about the so-called ‘radical’ plans to fight animal cruelty, eliminate animal fighting, and promote more humane treatment of animals in agriculture.”

While news outlets have exposed Berman’s racket, one thing they have not found is evidence that he is the least bit effective. Since Berman launched his campaign against The Humane Society of the United States, we’ve won major ballot initiative campaigns, passed a record number of laws at the state level, helped more animal shelters around the country through our training and evaluations programs, and placed more animals under our direct care than any organization in the nation.

Indeed, CCF was started with a grant from Philip Morris to defend smoking, and that campaign hasn’t turned out so well for him. With support from the restaurant and alcohol industry, it has attacked common-sense social policies offered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and The HSUS.

The HSUS has posted more information on the Center for Consumer Freedom and Rick Berman on our website.

The town hall meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Downtown at 5 pm on Sunday, Nov. 21. An RSVP to humanesociety.org/nebraskatownhall is required, and seating may be limited.


Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching “HumaneTV” in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.