Humane Society of the U.S. settles affairs without a Wills

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1995:

WASHINGTON, D.C.– – Humane
Society of the United States executive vice
president Patricia Forkan is to assume authority
over HSUS domestic operations effective
on January 1, 1996. HSUS president Paul
Irwin, now heading domestic operations, will
move over to head the umbrella organization,
Humane Society International, while current
HSI president John Hoyt, 65, will serve as
vice president until he retires in May, officially
for health reasons.
Former HSUS vice president for
investigations and legislation David Wills,
Hoyt’s longtime protege and onetime chosen
successor, was formally terminated on
October 14, two months after he was officially
placed on “administrative leave,” and was
in fact fired, in so many words, according to
a very highly placed informant. HSUS has
also sued Wills, seeking the recovery of
funds––believed to be about $16,500––
allegedly misappropriated to his personal use.


In a peripherally related personnel
move indicating the changing HSUS corporate
culture, Forkan confidante Martha
Armstrong has been named vice president for
companion animals, succeeding Ken White,
who left last spring to head the Arizona
Humane Society. Armstrong, longtime
Massachusetts SPCA director of humane education
and legislation, previously headed
shelters in Oakland, California, and
Tennessee.
Turnabout
Only 18 months earlier, in mid1994,
ANIMAL PEOPLE received leaked
confidential memos indicating that other
HSUS senior executives were attempting to
force Forkan out of HSUS by transferring
many of her longtime duties to Wills and lobbyists
Wayne Pacelle, Bill Long, and Aaron
Medlock, whom Wills recruited from the
Fund for Animals. Some of Forkan’s staff
were urged to retire.
Virtually raised in an upstate New
York animal shelter still directed by her mother,
Forkan served as executive director of the
Fund in the 1970s, prior to joining HSUS.
The changes at HSUS have so far
not lifted Hoyt’s interdict on staff communications
with ANIMAL PEOPLE, imposed
against editor Merritt Clifton since October
1988 when Clifton, then news editor for
Animals’ Agenda, asked Hoyt and Irwin to
comment on a Jack Anderson expose of how
HSUS purchased a house for Hoyt’s use and
loaned Irwin funds with which to buy vacation
property in Maine. Our questions about
the recent and impending changes went officially
unanswered. Forkan and HSUS chief
legal counsel Roger Kindler reportedly told
other people with similar questions that our
reconstruction of the changes from leaked
information, as reported in our November
1995 edition, was “inaccurate” and “not even
close” to what actually happened.
But they apparently supplied no
specifics. Other accounts suggest the alleged
“inaccuracies” are more matters of perspective
than substance: did Forkan merely inherit
authority, or ascend by having her hands
clean? Is Hoyt retiring on schedule, or is he
being discreetly ousted? Is Irwin now the big
boss, or has he been kicked upstairs?
Is it real, or is it color, and do even
their hairdressers know for sure?
Twist and shout
We do know for sure that the
November installment of the ongoing
HSUS/David Wills soap opera was barely into
the mail before new information made it obsolete,
beginning with the return––unopened––
of the package of 25 copies of our October
edition that an anonymous caller ordered for
courier delivery to the Columbus Day weekend
HSUS board meeting in Seattle. The
caller, who was not board member Anita
Coupe, asked that the copies be sent to
Coupe’s room. The weirdest twist was that
the invoice, the amount of which was not
mentioned to the caller, was enclosed in the
package, and was earlier paid by a U.S. postal
money order made out on behalf of “B. True.”
The plot twisted again, like it did
last summer, when at midnight on Halloween
the Washington Humane Society’s contract to
provide animal control service to
Washington D.C. expired. A newly formed
organization called Animal Link took over,
and within hours a private investigator tracking
Wills found him answering the telephones
at the Washington D.C. city shelter,
apparently performing the duties of an executive
director as an ostensible volunteer.
For much of this year, Wills and
his former Detroit associate Deday LaRene,
whom he hired at HSUS, negotiated with
Washington D.C. over possibly taking on the
animal control contract as an HSUS project.
That proposed deal fell through, HSUS
announced, on September 18. Officially the
problem was that HSUS wanted the deed,
free and clear, to the proposed site of a new
shelter it planned to build––but Washington
D.C. only leased the land in question from
the federal government, and was not in a
position to turn over the deed.
Unofficially, the problem was that
it was Wills’ deal, undertaken at least in part
to impress his fiance, former Washington
Humane Society animal fostering volunteer
Lori White (whom he married in June in
Mexico, at a ceremony conducted by Irwin,
an ordained minister). With Wills on his
way out at HSUS, no one else really wanted
the potential expense and embarrassment
that could go with running animal control in
a nearly bankrupt city that owed the previous
contractor more than $400,000, against
annual operating costs of $770,000.
Wills, though, needed a job––and
as executive director of the Michigan
Humane Society from 1978 until mid-1989,
he had experience at fundraising in a similar
milieu, though about $1.6 million of the
funds he raised eventually disappeared,
leading to his resignation under fire. [Details
appeared in “A whale of a tale from inside
HSUS,” together with details of LaRene’s
alleged underworld links, in the October
1995 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE.] The
WHS withdrawal from animal control left an
opportunity open, and Wills and White
already had contact with other people willing
to form a board of directors: Dee Atwell,
identified as a Department of Commerce
employee, who told one reporter her qualifications
were “twenty years with golden setters”;
Phyllis Horowitz, a former WHS volunteer
who was dismissed as a purported
source of friction with staff; and Gerald
Eichinger, DVM, a onetime WHS veterinary
staffer who left to form his own practice,
returned as a volunteer, was dismissed
at the same time as Horowitz, and was
remembered by other Washington D.C.-area
animal rescuers for having denounced the
WHS administration to media.
Links
Assembling Animal Link virtually
overnight, the group won a 50-day contract
with the city by outbidding a coalition put
together on short notice by Sharon Smith,
DVM, according to WHS executive director
Mary Healy. The most financially stable
humane organization in the area, the
Washington Animal Rescue League,
remained uninvolved. Persons familiar with
WARL affairs told ANIMAL PEOPLE that
the WARL longterm plan, backed by assets
of as much as $10 million, involves completing
a low-cost neutering clinic now
under construction and perhaps adding a
high-volume adoption center––projects
which could be jeopardized by the extra burdens
coming with an animal control contract.
The 50-day interim contract
expires December 20. Washington D.C.
Department of Human Services acting director
Vernon Hawkins said a longterm contrac-
tor would be chosen meanwhile through
competitive bidding. Lacking time to obtain
nonprofit status, Animal Link is trying to
finance operations and put itself in position
to secure the longterm contract by soliciting
donations via a special bank account opened
for it by Animal Allies, a cat rescue group
headed by Elaine Miletta of Fairfax,
Virginia, with a 92-cat care-for-life shelter
in Culpepper, Virginia.
The personalities and arrangements
soon drew the attention of
Washington D.C. media, as did problems at
the shelter that began almost immediately.
With only Wills, Eichinger, and one former
WHS technician qualified to perform
euthanasia, compared with eight euthanasia
technicians on staff when WHS ran the shelter,
Animal Link reportedly tried to teach
volunteers the procedure in haste, with awkward
results. Due to short staffing, Wills is
supposed to have asked volunteers to work
eight-hour shifts, getting few takers. On
November 10, Wills and White purportedly
walked out––and back in through a side
door. On November 15, paid staff walked
out because they didn’t get paid, but Atwell
told media that an anonymous contribution
of $4,000 saved the day. There was also a
flap mentioned by some D.C. media when a
volunteer left alone to work a night shift
instead locked the doors and went home.
Talks
Catching heavy flak, Wills formally
addressed the media on November 16
at the National Press Club––but mostly
about HSUS, rather than Animal Link. “I
was recently abruptly terminated for my
‘failure to cooperate’ in responding to a
series of malicious and false allegations
against me raised by three former PETA
employees now working at HSUS,” Wills
asserted, referring to three HSUS staffers
who in August filed a sexual harassment
complaint against Wills with the U.S Equal
Opportunity Commission. Only one of the
three, so far as ANIMAL PEOPLE c a n
determine, is a former PETA employee.
“PETA is by their own admission a
radical animal rights organization,” Wills
continued. “I believe I have become a pawn
in a struggle for power and money both within
HSUS and between competing animal
rights organizations. HSUS is doing everything
in its power to silence me, including
filing a civil lawsuit against me. I was even
advised by my health insurance company
that HSUS had tried to cancel health insurance
for myself and my nine-year-old son
with asthma,” an apparent reference to
White’s son by a previous marriage.
“I myself am under a doctor’s care
for a medical condition which I contracted
while on a mission for the Society in
Indonesia,” Wills said. “Make no mistake:
when it comes to the treatment of people,
the word ‘humane’ does not apply to HSUS.”
Wills complained that HSUS,
“with assets of over $50 million, does not
help or support the D.C. animal shelter,
which is in danger of closing from lack of
funds. The salaries and lifestyles of top
executives at HSUS I agree are outrageous,”
he added, “but that is not my salary or my
lifestyle. If money is missing from the
Humane Society ledgers, they should look
elsewhere for it. The allegations which have
been raised against me are false,” Wills
insisted, adding that instead of hearing his
side of the various matters, “HSUS has
responded with a summons in a civil action.
I am in the process with my attorneys of
preparing a defense and countersuit in several
forums that I assure you will reach the
highest levels of the Humane Society’s management.
I am confident,” Wills embellished,
“that I will be vindicated in the
courts, but in that process many of the confidential
informants who have assisted my
investigations into animal rights abuses may
be compromised or their lives endangered.”
Concluded Wills, “People who care
about animals should look closely where they
donate their hard-earned dollars, and make
sure the money is going to the animals and
not to permit top executives to lead the
lifestyles of the rich and famous.”
Wills, known for his Porsche 944,
love of nightlife, and reputed $100,000
salary at Michigan Humane, made $93,000 a
year in salary and benefits at HSUS.
Lifestyles
Indeed, the lifestyles and activities
of HSUS executives––Wills included––have
attracted the attention of many investigators
in recent months. California deputy attorney
general Peter Schack tersely confirmed that
his office is actively reviewing HSUS financial
filings and witness depositions, but
explained that he is not allowed to discuss
any case that might be in preparation.
A small army of private detectives
and researchers were more forthcoming, calling,
faxing, and e-mailing to introduce
themselves and share tips. Three work for
competing mass media. One represents a personal
debtor. Four work for other major animal
protection groups. And one, Simon
Ward of Zimbabwe Trust readily admitted
interests directly opposed to those of the
humane movement, having previously
worked a decade for the Japanese whaling
industry––and was willing to be quoted.
Ward described his employer as “a non-governmental
organization in an African country,”
which “has come under fierce attack
from, among others, HSUS, for selling
hunting licenses to groups such as Safari
Club International. I have been instructed,”
Ward admitted, “to gather any and all information
I can that may be used to discredit
HSUS.”
Ward established that the Paul Irwin
associated with the Pennsylvania Trust, a
major private bank, is not the same person as
the Paul Irwin of HSUS––as ANIMAL PEOP
L E suspected, in reporting in October an
allegation from a Capitol Hill source that Paul
Irwin of HSUS is involved in private banking,
a form of financial dealing with no accountability
to the general public.
“Paul Irwin of HSUS is rumored to
be involved in private banking in some way,”
Ward confirmed. “However, research confirmed
only that he was involved,” having
been listed in Moody’s Banking Directory
several years ago as one of the directors of the
Theodore Roosevelt National Bank. “In the
current edition of M o o d y ’ s,” Ward added,
“this bank is no longer listed, and the telephone
has been disconnected. The last listing
of the bank gave its address as 1201 New
York Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. It is
assumed it was a private bank because its
total assets were just $13-14 million. In this
regard,” Ward suggested, “a possible clue
appears in HSUS News, fall 1995, in the section
dedicated to news from the HSUS affiliate
Earthkind. An article on ecotourism
begins with a reference to one Tweed
Roosevelt, but makes no connection between
him and HSUS, nor gives any explanation
why his views should appear.”
HSUS News identified Tweed
Roosevelt as “spokesman for sustainable
tourism, president of the Roosevelt
Education Foundation, and the great-grandson
of Theodore Roosevelt.”
With that, Ward flew off to San
Diego, to examine files on HSUS and the
subsidiary National Association for Humane
and Environmental Education compiled by
biomedical researcher Pat Cleveland. At
deadline, Ward hadn’t again been heard
from. But a thick envelope anonymously
mailed from Florida coincidentally contained
an account of a recent Earthkind fiasco,
together with supporting documents.
Yellowstone “The Yellowstone Project cost
HSUS $275,000 in a matter of a few months
in 1993,” the account stated. “Dr. Robert
Crabtree,” of Bozeman, Montana, “pro
posed a new ecotourist business to do
research, and HSUS through Earthkind
agreed to provide $150,000, all to be
returned by the third year. If Earthkind
dropped out before the third year, the idea
reverted to Crabtree. Hoyt placed his longtime
secretary in charge, Janet Frake, who
had no experience in overseeing or analyzing
new business ventures. Crabtree prepared a
first-year budget showing $450,000 income
from tuition and a deficit from first-year operations
of $121,000––in other words, a spending
plan of $571,000. It was in the form of a
large sheet pasted together from computer
printouts, and he submitted it to HSUS soon
after starting the business. He said he got it
back with an initialed approval. No one at
HSUS ever admitted to approving it, but
Crabtree supposedly still has it.”
Continued the story, “Using the
‘approval,’ Crabtree began spending according
to the plan. He hired lots of local help to
lead the tours and bought computer equipment.
Invoices were approved in Bozeman
and sent to Washington D.C. for HSUS to
pay, which they did.”
Crabtree purportedly projected
breaking even at 150 participants, but only
32 actually signed up by July.
“When the light public response
was finally learned,” the account went on,
“HSUS tried to stop the program, but
Crabtree felt he had an enforceable contract
and wanted to continue, resisting HSUS
demands to fire employees and cancel tours.
By September, when the Earthkind board
met, more than $200,000 had been spent,
and another $75,000 was estimated to be
needed to get HSUS out. A number of hired
people in Montana were threatening to sue
HSUS, and there were complaints from people
who had bought non-refundable air tickets
to cancelled tours.
“Crabtree salvaged the operation,
and still operates,” now under the name of
Yellowstone Ecosystem Studies.
Neither Crabtree nor HSUS
responded to messages of inquiry, but the
gist of the account seemed to be confirmed
both by the enclosures and other information
ANIMAL PEOPLE had on file.
Mail
ANIMAL PEOPLE was not able
to either confirm or refute an electronic message
from a well-reputed direct mail professional
who asserted that, “Irwin has been
secretly doing business with the company
that you know kicks back fundraising money
to executives,” as described in our October
editorial. Through a variety of subsidiaries,
this firm does business with many of the animal
protection groups that spend the highest
percentage of their budget on direct mail,
but we haven’t yet unraveled the whole
skein, nor are we sure yet that some competing
organizations know that they are in effect
represented by the same organization,
under different business identities.
According to this direct mail professional,
“Irwin has tested the Netherlands
fundraising market. You see, incorporated
in the Netherlands, as you must be to raise
funds there, nobody in the U.S. can track
the money. Irwin arranged all of that.
Now, heading HSI, he is in charge of it all.
Nice plan. How much front money has
HSUS put into HSI? That is the money
used to raise gigantic money overseas. The
Netherlands, Germany, and France are all
semi-virgin targets, with four times the
returns we get in the U.S. You can get rich
four times quicker, and with a $150,000
investment can net $1.5 million the second
year. Then the sky’s the limit. The foreign
governments won’t audit for five years,
giving time to build the mail before spending
money on programs.”
Neither Irwin nor anyone else at
HSUS responded to multiple faxed
inquiries, which included a photocopy of
the original message, less only the transmission
code which might have jeopardized
the source. The speculation about potential
direct mail returns in Europe is supported by
the experience of the International Fund for
Animal Welfare, Greenpeace, the Dolphin
Project, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society over the past five years.
The potential extent of HSUS
involvement is indicated by HSUS funding
transfers to HSI over the past several years:
$212,091 in 1993, $410,760 in 1994.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *