WOULD YOU BUY AN APPEAL FROM FUNDRAISER BRUCE EBERLE?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2000:

McLEAN, Virginia– – Fundraiser
Bruce W. Eberle may be the most asked-about
person over the past few years in calls to ANIMAL
PEOPLE by anxious animal protection
donors and sanctuary directors––but most of
those asking would not recognize his name.
Neither do they recognize the names
of most of the sanctuaries that Eberle is asking
them to give money to or rent their mailing
lists to, except perhaps from previous appeals
and list requests received from the same outfits:
Tiger Haven, Tiger Creek, Tiger Tracks,
and Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue Ranch,
among those bringing the most inquiries.
ANIMAL PEOPLE didn’t recognize
Eberle’s name or the names of most of the
sanctuaries Eberle represents either, until we
began investigating the unknown sanctuaries
one by one and found Eberle is their common
denominator. Then we investigated him.


We found that Eberle’s activities had
been investigated often before, including by
U.S. Senate committees looking into the Paula
Jones affair and the fate of Americans missing
in action during the Vietnam War.
Questioning some of the people
whose mailing lists Eberle solicited, we
learned he was apparently anxious about what
we were discovering, sharing, and asking
about. We figured it wouldn’t be long before
he tried to head off an expose, and sure
enough: 48 hours after we mentioned to several
sources still dealing with him that we were
working on an expose, he made contact.
Eberle volunteered quite a lot. But
he didn’t answer the basic question on the
mind of each prospective donor: is money sent
to the groups he represents helping animals?
Eberle also didn’t answer the basic
question among those whose lists he wants to
borrow: will it help or hurt them?
High-volume mailing
Ultimately, these are judgement
calls. Charities must raise funds, which
requires mailing lists. Doing high-volume
direct mail to donors to similar facilities is the
easiest way to build a list. But keeping donors
requires their assurance that most of the money
they contribute is spent to serve the charitable
purpose, not to enrich direct mail merchants.
Exchanging lists is the major means
by which charities of all types expand their
donor base. But again, there is only so much
money to be divided among charities, and
when donors get too many appeals from similar
organizations, some charities suffer––especially
when the fundraising firms take more
from the receipts than goes to do actual charitable
work, reducing the total pool available to
the groups actually fulfilling the mission.
Correspondence with inquiring
donors to exotic cat sanctuaries indicates that
Tiger Haven, Tiger Creek, and Tiger Tracks
are all making quite a haul lately.
But Jill Carnagie of the Valley of the
Kings Sanctuary and Retreat, in Sharon,
Wisconsin, formerly known as JES Exotics,
has run a similar sanctuary for exotic cats for
at least as long or longer, without doing costly
high-volume mailings to cold prospects.
“Donations have really been at an
all-time low,” Carnagie reported in her May
2000 newsletter.
Does she need to hire a more effective
fundraiser––or do donors need to learn to
toss more appeals from unfamiliar groups into
the trash, thereby making direct mail fundraising
even costlier and more difficult for organizations
which are just getting started?
Either way, Eberle can profit.
Who is Eberle?
“The Eberle Communications Group
began with the formation of Bruce W. Eberle
& Associates in 1974,” Eberle told ANIMAL
P E O P L E by e-mail. “We have worked with
nearly 200 national organizations,” he said.
Eberle clients have reportedly
included former U.S. president Ronald
Reagan; Oliver North, who was a central figure
in the Iran/Contra scandal of the latter
Reagan years in the White House; and former
Los Angeles police officers Stacey Koon and
Laurence Powell, who were sentenced to
serve 30 months apiece in jail for allegedly
committing the videotaped beating of motorist
Rodney King in 1992. Their appeals said they
were “political scapegoats of black radicals
and self-serving liberal politicians.”
Eberle & Associates “works primarily
with conservative groups,” Eberle
explained, while Fund Raising Strategies,
formed later, “has worked with a wide variety
of charitable organizations in wildlife welfare,
historic preservation, veterans support, and
poverty relief.
“Both organizations,” according to
Eberle, “endeavor to operate under values”
which include the claim that, “There is no substitute
for integrity.”
“A few years back,” Eberle admited,
“we raised funds for a POW group. After a
number of years we began to doubt their ability
to fulfill their commitment to their donors.
We terminated our relationship. That was several
years before this same client engaged in
activities that eventually came before a special
committee of Congress. The truth,” Eberle
insists, “is that we were victimized by the
political establishment,” although Eberle also
claims that Eberle & Associates helped to elect
key members of the Republican majorities prevailing
since 1990 in the U.S. Senate and since
1994 in the House of Representatives.
“We accurately reported to the
donors precisely what was related to us by the
client,” Eberle maintains. “Unfounded
charges of fraud were made against us by selfserving
politicians, but when the dust cleared
and the matter had been reviewed by the
Federal Trade Commission, we could hold our
heads high. Some still quote out-of-context
from that hearing, but the fact is that we did
nothing wrong.”
Or at least nothing prosecutable:
under court rulings which hold that the right of
free speech prevails over accountability, nonprofit
fundraisers enjoy much more leeway in
what they can tell prospective donors than forprofit
advertisers.
“Using third party sources,” Eberle
insisted, “we endeavor to check our clients out
and establish that they are indeed doing what
they claim to do or have made concrete plans
that will turn into reality with the availability
of funds.
“Our company donates a minimum
of 20% of our profits to more than 50 charities,”
Eberly added. “Personally, my wife and
I give to a wide number of charitable groups,”
he went on.
Eberle and his companies belong to
the usual trade associations. They have
received a normal quotient of awards from
charities that employ them and from professional
peers. Eberle is even a sometime
Sunday school teacher and sings in a church
choir, he told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“I have been in the direct mail fund
raising business for more than 29 years, 26 of
that with my own company,” Eberle continued.
“I believe you will find that in the
Washington D.C. area, my company has a
reputation for unsurpassed integrity.”
Paula Jones
Here is what Washington D.C.
sources and observers actually report, as discovered
through a series of online searches:
• On February 27, 1998, picking up
on information originally disclosed by the
ABC-TV subsidiary Salon News, C h i c a g o
T r i b u n e reporters William Gaines and David
Jackson revealed that Paula Jones, who had
accused U.S. President Bill Clinton of sexual
harassment, had “received about $100,000
from a fund-raising campaign that was supposed
to be on behalf of her attorneys.”
John W. Whitehead, president of the
Virignia-based Rutherford Institute, which
was actually paying Jones’ legal bills, said,
“We’re not getting any of the money.”
Detailed Gaines and Jackson, “A
mass mailing of Jones’ eight-page request” for
money “she said was ‘all going to help my
legal case’ raised questions among Jones’
attorneys, because part of the donations” were
“used to pay for the fund-raising effort and the
rest” went “to an account controlled by Jones.”
Jones was paid a $100,000 ‘advance’
against the returns, which were expected to be
“at least an additional $200,000, for a total
guaranteed minimum of $300,000. Jones
signed the contract that guarantees her the
minimum net income of $300,000 with Bruce
W. Eberle & Associates Inc.,” Gaines and
Jackson stipulated.
“The contract has a space for the signature
of an officer of the Paula Jones Legal
Fund,” Gaines and Jackson said, “but the
words ‘legal fund’ were scratched out [when] Jones signed it, a copy of the contract
obtained by the Tribune shows.”
Added Gaines and Jackson, “Under
the contract, Eberle’s company is paid about
eight cents for every solicitation package
processed. In addition, his company receives
a commission from the rental or purchase of
donor lists, and a company Eberle controls,
Omega List Co., serves as an agent in the
deals. Postal expenses are to be borrowed at
24% annual interest from another company
that is headquartered in Eberle’s office and run
by one of Eberle’s business partners.”
ABC, the Washington D.C. bureau
of the Dallas Morning News, and Reuters all
confirmed the details.
• On July 22, 1998, St. Louis PostD
i s p a t c h Washington D.C. bureau chief Jon
Sawyer reported that, “Half of every dollar
Senator John Ashcroft [R-Missouri] has raised
this year for his political action committee has
been plowed back into direct-mail advertising.
A tiny portion, just $1,000 so far, has gone to
conservative Republican candidates––the people
Ashcroft pegged as prime beneficiaries
when he announced last year that he was setting
up a PAC. The biggest share by far,
$529,903 as of June 30, has gone to direct
mail companies––most of them controlled by
or associated with Bruce Eberle.”
• Deirdre Shesgreen of the P o s t –
Dispatch Washington D.C. bureau followed up
on December 12, 1999. “Last month,
Ashcroft fired his direct-mail consultant,
Bruce Eberle,” Shesgreen wrote, “after the
Associated Press inquired about accusations
that Eberle used phony prisoner-of-war sightings
to solicit money from veterans for another
client. Eberle’s solicitations came to light in
1992 during hearings held by the Senate Select
Committee on POW-MIA Affairs.
Operation Rescue
“In one letter sent out by Eberle’s
firm,” Shesgreen continued, “Air Force
Colonel Jack Bailey appealed for money to
help carry out a rescue mission he said would
save Americans still being held prisoner from
the Vietnam War. ‘Please excuse the handwriting.
But I’m writing at a makeshift desk
on the deck of the Akuna II,’ the letter read.
‘The China Sea is tossing and rolling.’ The
committee reported that Eberle––not Bailey––
wrote the letter, and that Bailey’s boat had
been docked for more than two years.”
Then-ABC News reporter Jamie
Walker in 1991 memorably exposed Bailey
and his MIA charity, called Operation Rescue,
with an assist from International Primate
Protection League founder Shirley McGreal.
“The background,” McGreal told
ANIMAL PEOPLE, “is that the desperate
family of MIA Captain Donald Carr received a
letter from a Bailey henchman, enclosing a
grainy photo of a person identified as their son,
sitting in a cage in a purported prison camp in
a remote area. Money was needed to send an
adventurer to rescue him. Somehow Walker
got suspicious that a Thai animal dealer had to
be involved.”
Walker consulted McGreal, who
identified the premises in the photo as those of
“the disgusting Thai dealer Khampheng,”
doing business as Bangkok Wildlife.
Khampheng had a German courier named
Gunter Dittrich.
“Walker got a film crew in,”
McGreal continued to ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“The giggly Thais said that Jack Bailey had
come to Khampheng’s and asked to take a
photo of a man sitting in a cage,” who turned
out to be Gunter Dittrich.
Dittrich reportedly confirmed to
Carr’s widow that he was the man in the
cage––but according to some accounts the
grieving Carr family had apparently already
given Operation Rescue a substantial sum.
“Though Eberle raised funds for
Bailey,” McGreal said, “there is no way to
know if Eberle knew of this heartless scam.”
Eberle does not appear to have been
moved to ask hard questions of Bailey for
quite some time, while amplifying Bailey’s
fundraising success to his own advantage.
According to the final report of the
Senate Select Committee, “In approximately
three years [1983-1986] Eberle prepared more
than 40 solicitations on behalf of Operation
Rescue and mailed them to hundreds of thousands
of potential donors. They brought in
contributions of approximately $2 million.”
An Eberle employee, Linda Canada,
“designed most of Operation Rescue’s solicitations
from 1984 to 1986,” the Senate Select
Committee report continued. “She told investigators
that she could not provide the
Committee with any facts to back up her statement
in a 1985 solicitation that ‘men are in terrible
shape. Their time is running out.’”
That statement, the Senate Select
Committee found, appeared in a mailing sent
soon after “A memorandum dated April 2,
1985 from Eberle to Canada laid it out: ‘I
have an idea for three more packages on behalf
of Operation Rescue: 1) Some sort of an
international cable gram sent from Thailand to
the donor describing the ‘evidence’ that
Americans are still being held captive and the
urgent need for tax-deductible contributions in
support of the rescue efforts. 2) A handwritten
or hand-printed letter on lined note paper
written by firelight during an intelligence-gathering
mission either inside of Cambodia or
Vietnam, or at least on the banks of the river
which divides Thailand and Cambodia. Same
message. 3) A letter originated in Thailand,
either on hotel stationery or on Akuna II
staionery, stating that the Akuna is in port and
can’t leave again unless a certain amount of
money is received. Letter could even be drafted
on the desk of the Akuna.”
All of these ideas were used.
“The Post Gram and the handwritten
letter are clear examples of misleading solicitations,”
the Senate Select Committee found.
The Senate Select Committee further
found that of the $2,283,472 that Operation
Rescue raised with the Eberle mailings, the
Eberle fundraising campaign consumed 89%.
Lifesavers
Eberle appears to have become
aggressively involved in fundraising for animal
causes in 1997 or 1998. Known Eberle
clients include, or have included, besides
Lifesavers, Tiger Haven, Tiger Creek, and
Tiger Tracks (incorporated as the Cedarhill
Animal Sanctuary), the Exotic Feline Rescue
Foundation; Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife
Sanctuary; the Wilderness Conservancy; and
Wildlife Waystation, whose list seems to have
been the magnet that lured many of the rest.
ANIMAL PEOPLE discussed the
Eberle arrangements with six of the eight, and
with representatives of three other organizations
whose executives said they had declined
to do business with Eberle after discussion.
Most told ANIMAL PEOPLE t h a t
Eberle or staff began their association with an
unsolicited telephone call. Most said they
were satisfied with the results of the Eberle

campaigns; Exotic Feline Rescue Foundation
founder Joe Taft said he was not, and accordingly
ended their relationship.
Of them all, however, only Wildlife
Waystation had significant previous fundraising
experience. The others were relatively
young organizations, relatively small, and
appear to have been easily persuaded to commit
huge sums to “cold mailings” using rented
donor names, in hopes of building large mailing
lists from scratch.
Lifesavers, for instance, spent
$43,846 (59%) of its $74,734 budget in 1998-
1999 on list-building via Eberle––and the first
Lifesavers mailing by Eberle didn’t even go
out until April 1999, founder Jill Starr told
ANIMAL PEOPLE. The Lifesavers fiscal
year ended just 90 days later, well before
Eberle sent out a December 1999 mailing on
Lifesavers’ behalf to 400,000 addresses.
Starr told ANIMAL PEOPLE t h a t
Lifesavers rescued “about 20 horses in 1999
and 10 in 1998.” Her “rescues” were accomplished,
she admitted, mainly by purchasing
horses at auction, a practice much criticized
by other rescuers including Enzo Giobbe and
Stacy Wilson of the International Generic
Horse Association/Horse Aid, because it has
the net effect of supporting the floor prices,
thereby keeping the auction system profitable
for high-volume sellers.
The Lifesavers mailings purport to
be saving horses from slaughter. But
Lifesavers is located in Lancaster, California.
Since the passage of the California Horse
Slaughter Initiative in November 1998, selling
horses to slaughter for human consumption has
been illegal in California. However, since the
mailings do not say which auctions Lifesavers
attends, or where, horses might be bought at
dogmeat auctions or in another state.
Tiger Creek
Like many and perhaps most
humane organizations, whose purpose and
modus operandi are not always well understood
by media and the public, and––like any
other enterprise that eventually accumulates
rosters of disgruntled ex-patrons and staff,
––Wildlife Waystation has weathered several
rounds of controversy since opening in 1977.
The founders of several other sanctuaries
that Eberle represents became controversial
for tangential reasons.
Brian Werner of Tiger Creek, now
located near Fort Worth, was suspected of losing
a tiger in 1997 when predators killed two
cattle near his former home in East Union
Township, Ohio. But Werner’s two adult
tigers turned out to have been delivered to the
not-well-regarded Turpentine Creek Wildlife
Park in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which
Werner now denounces, and the third of his
tigers was still a cub.
Werner meanwhile formed the
Tigers Missing Link Foundation, a tiger registry
viewed with much skepticism by many
other sanctuarians, private tiger enthusiasts,
and the American Zoo Association.
In early 2000 Werner brought himself
to the notice of ANIMAL PEOPLE b y
sending above his own signature a list of
National Rifle Association allegations against
various animal rights groups, and by forwarding
a purported USA Today news item about
another sanctuary that turned out to be a
forgery. Werner said he got the forgery from a
private tiger owner who denied having had
anything to do with it.
Riddle
The ANIMAL PEOPLE file on
Scott Riddle of Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife
Sanctuary in Greenbriar, Arkansas, began
with a 1986 report by Jane Neufeld of the
Daily Telegram in Garden City, Kansas, that
Lee Richardson Zoo director Dan Raffa had
requested a USDA probe into the death of a
23-year-old elephant named Twinkles.
Riddle, a former Los Angeles Zoo
elephant keeper, and Gary Jacobson, a former
L.A. Zoo elephant ride concessionaire, had
allegedly used an electroshockdevice to try to
get Twinkles aboard a truck, after buying her
for a zoo that Jacobson ran in Florida.
Neufeld said she had been contacted
“by four persons from the Los Angeles area.”
Among them were Carol Buckley, who founded
The Elephant Sanctuary at Hohenwald,
Tennessee, in 1994, but was then identified as
“a Los Angeles area elephant owner,” and Pat
Wyatt, “a former Los Angeles Zoo employee
who worked with elephants when Riddle was
at the zoo.” That was from the 1960s into the
early 1970s, and again from about 1980 until
the early 1990s, according to then-L.A. Zoo
curator Ed Alonzo.
Both Buckley and Wyatt “expressed
concern about the proper and improper use of
electricity on elephants. Both referred to
deaths of [two] elephants at the L.A. Zoo
while Riddle worked there,” wrote Neufeld.
Each elephant died from injuries apparently
resulting from conflict with other elephants.
Alonzo said he believed electric
shocking devices had been used on elephants
during Riddle’s time at the L.A. Zoo, but––as
Neufeld put it––“said that the zoo did not consider
the deaths to be attributed to Riddle.”
Riddle was apparently never charged
with any offense. But rumors that he handles
elephants roughly resurfaced from totally different
sources in 1994, after Riddle opened a
“comprensive school in elephant training,
handling, and safety procedures” at the
Arkansas site, which Riddle then billed as a
“breeding farm and wildlife sanctuary.”
Riddle’s star guest instructor was
Robert “Smoky” Jones––a trainer long unpopular
with animal rights activists.
ANIMAL PEOPLE sought the perspective
of two of Jones’ colleagues: Arlen
Seidon, a performing elephant trainer for 40
years before founding the Animal Education,
Protection, & Information Foundation sanctuary
in Fordland, Missouri, and Doug Cook,
who trained both elephants and dolphins.
Seidon said he had once employed
Jones, but dismissed him because he was “just
too damned rough.”
Cook called Jones “one of the top
four” elephant trainers in the world, but confirmed
that his technique for “adjusting” the
behavior of difficult elephants could be considered
“pretty rough.”
Riddle was linked again to electroshocking
elephants in December 1999,
when David Harrison of the London Sunday
Telegraph revealed that, “Electric goads, prohibited
under European Association of Zoos
guidelines, are being used on four Asian elephants
at the Blackpool Zoo. Keepers routinely
carry the implements when working in close
proximity to the four elephants. The elephants
are trained by Scott Riddle, an American elephant
consultant.”
Tiger Haven
The most notorious Eberle client in
animal protection, however, may be Joseph
Donovan Parker, 53, who founded Tiger
Haven in 1993 with his wife Mary Lynn
Parker. Accused of skimming $50,000 in proceeds
during 1986 and 1997 from charity
bingo games, Joe Parker drew a reduced sentence
on lesser charges after turning prosecution
witness in a joint federal/state probe of
alleged corruption in bingo gambling that
apparently led to the December 1989 suicide
of Tennessee secretary of state Gentry
Crowell. Parker served three months in a
halfway house for conspiracy and tax evasion.
Parker opened a Knoxville bingo
hall to benefit Tiger Haven in May 1994, but
reportedly closed it in 1996 after Knoxville
N e w s – S e n t i n e l staff writer Wesley Loy questioned
his methods in August 1995.
ANIMAL PEOPLE learned in 1999
that Parker had not filed IRS Form 990, the
federal accountability document required of
charities doing at least $25,000 worth of business,
since fiscal 1996.

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