Cunniffs’ cut of NAVS is up since 1992-1993 scandal
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1996:
CHICAGO––Kenneth Cunniff has a high-profile law practice. He is also an
adjunct professor of law at John Marshall University. And according to National AntiVivisection
Society filings with the IRS, Cunniff additionally was paid $66,778 for
representing the National Anti-Vivisection Society in the fiscal year ending June 30,
1994; $100,219 for representing NAVS in fiscal year 1995.
Cunniff’s wife is NAVS president Mary Margaret Cunniff, who succeeded
her father George Trapp. In fiscal 1994 Mary Margaret Cunniff was paid $105,250;
in fiscal 1995, $106,860. Between them each year, the Cunniffs collected just about
10% of the total revenues of NAVS: $1,697,612 in 1994, $2,092,467 in 1995.
Trapp, long retired, was paid $30,250 in fiscal 1994 for consulting. The
IRS then raised the threshhold for salaries that must be reported to $50,000, and Trapp
vanished from the NAVS filings.
NAVS board members receive the highest expense allowances of the board
members of any of the 70-odd animal and habitat protection organizations whose IRS
filings ANIMAL PEOPLE monitors: $1,500 in 1994, $2,000 in 1995.
The nine-member NAVS board has been somewhat restructured since NAVS
flunked three standards of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Philanthropic
Advisory Service in July 1993. A year earlier, a series of investigative reports by
ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton detailed extensive financial and familial
relationships among the Cunniffs and board members, after which NAVS was briefly
placed under trusteeship while Mary Margaret Cunniff took a paid maternity leave.
The Cunniffs’ combined salaries then came to 7.3% of NAVS’ total revenues
of $1.6 million, only slightly less than in 1994.
Off the NAVS board since 1992 are Mary Margaret Cunniff’s sister
Catherine Curran and brother-in-law Patrick Rocks. Cunniff herself and her uncle
Robert Mahoney remain board members.
There are many mom-and-pop animal protection charities––but in the case of
NAVS, neither the Cunniffs nor staff members have ever been willing, or able, as
the case may be, to tell ANIMAL PEOPLE just what exactly pop does for his money
and perks, including the apparent regular use of a NAVSowned
vehicle valued at $21,000. NAVS has little or no
apparent involvement in any animal-related litigation, and is
involved in legislative affairs to such a slight extent that it
closed its former Washington D.C. office in 1992; former
Washington D.C. office chief Donald Barnes now works for
NAVS from his home in San Antonio, Texas.
Despite national prominence in both criminal and
civil law, Cunniff has apparently never been lead attorney in
any major animal-related case. His most famous case was
representing one of many alleged victims of sexual abuse and
psychiatric malpractice who in 1987 destroyed the career and
reputation of Jules Masserman, then described by Dr. John
Carleton, president of the World Association of Social
Psychiatry, as “the most prominent psychiatrist in the world.”
Masserman surrendered his license to practice after settling
out of court a string of lawsuits alleging that he administered
incapacitating drugs to female patients, then fondled them.
Most Cunniff cases described in the online archives
of the Chicago Tribune, however, involve alleged corruption.
Among the big ones:
• In 1985, Cunniff represented attorney James J.
Costello, who pleaded guilty along with former circuit court
judge Wayne Olson to charges in connection with a case-fixing
scheme. According to an FBI undercover agent, Olson
referred cases to Costello in exchange for half the fees.
• In 1993, Cunniff represented attorney Niloufer
Hai, who pleaded guilty to falsely counseling an undercover
informant on how to qualify for legal status in the U.S. under
an amnesty program offered to illegal immigrants. According
to the Tribune account, “Hai admitted that of the 300
amnesty petitions she filed in behalf of illegal aliens in 1990
with the immigration service, many were fraudulent, and she
collected $153,000 in fees.”
• Cunniff in 1995 represented Illinois state senator
William Mahar, whose personnel records were subpoenaed
by a grand jury probing alleged “ghost payrolling in city,
county, and state government.” The probe grew out of a case
in which Joseph L. Cunniff Jr., 49, whose relationship if any
to Kenneth Cunniff ANIMAL PEOPLE could not determine,
pleaded guilty to voting fraud and defrauding taxpayers of at
least $54,000 in wages and benefits while on the payroll of
two Chicago city council committees between 1988 and 1994.
At least four other people pleaded guilty to similar charges.
Cunniff was also personally involved, at least
peripherally, in one transaction that made headlines and
raised eyebrows, as a 10% shareholder in the First National
Bank of Wheaton, then headed by one Harold J. Ticktin. In
December 1985, Ticktin was indicted for alleged bank fraud
in connection with his presidency of another institution, the
Manning Savings and Loan Association, which was closed
and liquidated by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance
Corporation in 1983.
After the indictment, Ticktin was suspended as
chairman and president of the First National Bank of
Wheaton. On August 6, 1986, however, the U.S.
Comptroller of the Currency filed suit seeking to force the
bank to comply with a 1984 consent agreement to raise its
capital-to-assets ratio to 7%, from 5.5%. The federal suit
also charged that Ticktin was still on the payroll.
Just one day later, with the judge assigned to the
case on vacation, Tickton, Cunniff, and at least two other
individuals sold 81% of the First National Bank of Wheaton
stock to Bellwood Bancorporation Inc., controlled by Martin
and Saul Binder. Saul Binder told the Tribune that the deal
had been pending for a month.
NAVS fundraising and overhead expense, once
joint costs allocated to “public education” as a program
expense are reallocated to fundraising according to National
Charities Information Bureau standards, comes to 52% of
revenues––well over the NCIB ceiling for approval of 40%.
Public support in fiscal 1995 came to $1.4 million.
NAVS also pulled in $454,888 net from transactions
involving $3 million worth of securities. Of $4.3 million total
NAVS assets, $3.8 million were invested in securities.
NAVS investments in companies which do animal testing or
were otherwise under boycott by animal protection groups
came under fire in 1992––particularly $46,745 invested in
U.S. Surgical Corporation in May 1991, just as Mary
Margaret Cunniff editorialized against U.S. Surgical’s provivisection
activities in NAVS Bulletin. By May 1992, the
U.S. Surgical stock had nearly doubled in value.
Such investments were fewer in 1994 and 1995, but
NAVS did purchase $87,498 worth of Pfizer Inc. on April 10,
1995, flipping it a week later for a quick net of $495.
Available information indicates that Pfizer ranks fifth among
U.S. corporations in laboratory animal use, using approximately
six times as many animals as Procter & Gamble, the
corporate leader in reduction of animal use and also, paradoxically,
the most boycotted corporate user.