Mississippi sanctuarian tries to quit “sharecropping” for fundraiser

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2000:

CALEDONIA, Miss.– – Cedarhill
Animal Sanctuary founder Kay McElroy, of
Caledonia, Mississipi, on September 1 notified
Virginia-based fundraiser Bruce Eberle
that she wants nothing more to do with him.
A week later, however, as A N IMAL
PEOPLE went to press, McElroy and
Cedarhill were still ensnarled in a contract
which has already paid huge sums to Eberle
and has him claiming he is owed still more,
while producing little benefit to Cedarhill.
“I haven’t had one comfortable day
since I signed with Eberle,” McElroy told
ANIMAL PEOPLE. “It has been eight
months of misery,” during which Eberle has
identified Cedarhill as Tiger Tracks in mailings
very similar to those he sent in representing
Tiger Haven, of Tennessee, and Tiger
Creek, of Texas.


On August 14, McElroy complained
to Eberle in writing that, “The stories written
on behalf of Cedarhill did not represent events
as they actually happened. Exaggerations
made on behalf of the residents of Cedarhill
were very offensive to me.”
For example, McElroy said, “I was
asked to write a story about one of our tigers. I
e-mailed it in. When it was faxed back to me,
it was so upsetting that I did not want to use it.
I was told that people would not donate to a
happy story. That particular tiger has been at
Cedarhill for 10 years, and I felt it was a baldfaced
lie to dupe the public into believing that
the rescue was a recent event.”
That wasn’t all. “Initially I was told
that Cedarhill would not receive any money
for the first two to three months. Six months
later, I was told that it may be as long as 12 to
18 months,” McElroy said.
“The initial mailing was supposed to
be sent once,” McElroy continued. “It seems
it was mailed four or five times. I have
received many letters, calls, and e-mails
about sending a graphic letter that was visible
on the outside of the envelope. I expressed my
disgust, but was told that it was the best way
of getting the point across. I disagreed then
and disagree now. I really don’t think graphic
photos should be used to raise money.”
On August 17, McElroy told A N IMAL
PEOPLE that Eberle had agreed to
sever the Cedarhill contract without the
required 90-day notice, but that Wendy
Newman, representing the Eberle-owned firm
Fund Raising Strategies, “was told to tell me
that FRS had outstanding bills in the amount
of $160,000 that had to be paid, and if I didn’t
let them mail what was printed, I would get
the bill. As of June 30,” McElroy added,
“FRS had received approximately $266,000
from Cedarhill donors, and Cedarhill had
received $9,000: three cents of every dollar.”
“Kay is upset,” Eberle told A N IMAL
PEOPLE on the morning of August 18,
“Kay is upset, but we are trying to assist her in
terminating her arrangement with us in a simple,
straightforward manner. I should advise
you that both parties to our agreements are not
allowed to divulge the terms. I intend to live
up to that obligation. I’m sure Kay will too.”
Returned ANIMAL PEOPLE t o
Eberle, “That serves your interests, perhaps,
but not those of customers who might have the
same right and reason as customers in any
other field to compare terms. Are you in fact
attempting to oblige McElroy/Cedarhill to
authorize further mailings in order to pay off
debts allegedly incurred in connection with
previous mailings? Were these alleged debts
run up with companies, contractors, and/or
subcontractors which are under your control,
and which did not obtain the work through an
open competitive bidding process? Does this
not amount to raising funds in the name of an
animal sanctuary, little or none of which will
go toward the benefit of the animals? Does
your apparent position not amount to telling
McElroy/Cedarhill that they owe their soul to
the company store? Are you trying to use a
contractual shroud in defense of figurative
sharecropping?”
Eberle on the afternoon of August 18
replied that he was “confident that we will be
able to resolve any dispute with Kay to her full
satisfaction,” and asserted that building a
direct mail donor base “typically takes about
24 months,” twice the waiting time McElroy
said she had most recently been told to expect.
Eberle also said that since ANIMAL
PEOPLE was requiring him to respond to all
questions in writing, “This will be my last
communication with you.”
On September 1, McElroy e-mailed
that after a meeting with Eberle, she believed
she would “get control of my web site back
immediately. All Master-Card, Visa, and
American Express donations will be transferred
to my bank. There will be no more email
solicitations and no more prospect mailings.
My donor list will be mailed to me. I
will not get any more money. Stopping the
campaign now, Cedarhill will have received
five cents out of every dollar collected.”
But on September 6 McElroy emailed
that she had misunderstood. “They
want to continue mailings to satisfy the debt,”
she wrote, “and if anything is left after the
debt is paid, Cedarhill would get it. They
want to continue this arrangement until
January 1, 2001. Even under our original contract,
my 90-day termination clause would be
effective on November 19, 2000.”
Riddles “Would you buy an appeal from
fundraiser Bruce Eberle?” ANIMAL PEOPLE
asked in a September 2000 expose, mentioning
besides Cedarhill seven other animal
protection organizations for which his companies
were known to have prepared mailings.
Robert Cleaves of the Wilderness
Conservancy gave Eberle a good reference but
said they were no longer doing business
together. Joe Taft of the Exotic Feline Rescue
Foundation gave Eberle a negative reference
and said he had not done business with Eberle
after one test mailing.
The founders of at least two other
sanctuaries had also discontinued relationships
with Eberle, ANIMAL PEOPLE l e a r n e d
after going to press.
Tiger Creek founder Brian Werner
told ANIMAL PEOPLE that his association
with Eberle ended in mid-June, between two
weeks and a month after he told us that he had
agreed to have Eberle do a test mailing for
him, at the recommendation of Tiger Haven
cofounder Joseph Donovan Parker.
Scott and Heidi Riddle of Riddle’s
Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary, in Greenbriar,
Arkansas, e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE on
August 30 that, “We are not clients of Eberle
and Associates, nor of Fund Raising
Strategies,” though ANIMAL PEOPLE h a d
received a copy of mailing materials evidently
prepared for Riddle’s Elephant & Wildlife
Sanctuary by one of Eberle’s firms, and submitted
to another prospective client by Eberle
or a representative as a sample of their work.
“We did have exploratory discussions
with them,” Scott and Heidi Riddle said,
“but we decided that the firm’s proposal was
not the direction our organization wanted to
take, and declined a business relationship.”
“We never worked for Riddle’s,”
Eberle confirmed. “We did talk with them and
at one time we came close to mailing for them,
but never did.”
At deadline, neither Scott and Heidi
Riddle nor Eberle had explained why the mailing
materials were produced for Riddle’s
Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary if the sanctuary
was not an Eberle client. Nor had anyone
explained why Eberle, claiming more than
200 satisfied clients, would purportedly send
as a sample a set of materials prepared for people
who were neither clients nor satisfied.
Tiger Haven
Also distancing herself from the
relationships and history recounted in the
September 2000 ANIMAL PEOPLE
Watchdog feature “Would you buy an appeal
from fundraiser Bruce Eberle?” was Tiger
Haven cofounder and president Mary Lynn
Parker, wife of Joseph Donovan Parker.
“Joe Parker is no longer associated
with Tiger Haven, having been terminated by
the board of directors,” Mary Lynn Parker
wrote on August 21, confirming information
volunteered by Eberle on August 7.
“Joe is no longer associated [with
Tiger Haven] by any means,” Mary Lynn
Parker continued, “has never co-owned any
lands [occupied by Tiger Haven], and the
facilities,” near Knoxville, Tennessee, “are
owned by the non-profit corporation, with
which he is not associated in any way. He is
not associated with any organization that Tiger
Haven does business with, fundraising or otherwise,”
she said.
“Divorce papers are filed,” Mary
Lynn Parker added, “and usually take 60 days
to complete.”
But as recently as August 3, two
days after the September edition of ANIMAL
PEOPLE went to press, the Christian Science
Monitor published a photograph of Joe Parker
and Mary Lynn Parker posing together at Tiger
Haven. Christian Science Monitor staff writer
David Holmstrom quoted Joe Parker as speaking
for the sanctuary.
Holmstrom also noted, as ANIMAL
P E O P L E first reported in March 1997, that
Joe Parker had operated bingo parlors in
fundraising agreements with several other
charities, was in 1986 and 1987 accused of
skimming $50,000 from the proceeds of two of
the charities he raised funds for, and in 1990
plea-bargained a reduced sentence for conspiracy
and tax evasion after turning prosecution
witness against other suspects.
Parker later operated a bingo parlor
for two-and-a-half years to raise funds for
Tiger Haven. Holstrom reported that it took in
about $2 million before Tennessee officials
ordered it closed.
The first Tiger Haven filing of IRS
Form 990 since 1997, reaching A N I M A L
P E O P L E in mid-August 2000, claimed the
sanctuary had assets of $607,317 as of January
31, 1999, lost $63,870 during the preceding
fiscal year, and spent nothing to raise funds.
The declared filing period apparently
ended shortly before Eberle began doing mailings
for Tiger Haven. Tiger Haven sent the
form to the IRS in March 2000.
Listed as the Tiger Haven board
were Mary Lynn Parker, Mary McGarvey,
Cheryl Haddad, and circus tiger trainer Josip
Marcan, of Orlando, Florida.
Mary Lynn Parker did not respond
when ANIMAL PEOPLE asked her if Eberle
would continue to fundraise for Tiger Haven.
Waystation
Still working with Eberle are
Wildlife Waystation, of Angeles National
Forest, California, and Lifesavers Wild Horse
Rescue, of Lancaster, California.
Founded in 1977, Wildlife Waytation
is among the biggest and oldest animal
sanctuaries in the U.S., and––as A N I M A L
PEOPLE reported in May and June 2000––is
among the best-reputed among fellow sanctuarians,
despite a series of high-profile conflicts
since 1991 with the California
Department of Fish and Game and other regulatory
bodies.

Wildlife Waystation filings of IRS
Form 990 indicate auditions of many different
fundraisers over the years. Eberle appears to
have become involved only after mid-1998.
Eberle then used access to the Wildlife
Waystation mailing list as a bargaining chip to
obtain the use of other lists and clients.
Wildlife Waystation founder Martine
Colette told ANIMAL PEOPLE as far back
as February 2000 that she was not happy with
how this was done.
If Wildlife Waystation had any
objection to the ANIMAL PEOPLE coverage
pertaining to Eberle, it was not voiced. But
ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton
was notified in early August that he is to be
among this year’s recipients of the
Waystation’s “Paws of Fame” award, for
“fair and balanced articles about the
Waystation’s recent regulatory crisis.”
Lifesavers
Lifesavers “rescued about 20 horses
in 1999 and 10 in 1998,” founder Jill Starr
told ANIMAL PEOPLE. Eberle only began
fundraising for Lifesavers in April 1998, 90
days from the close of the organization’s first
fiscal year, but the initial Eberle mailing
nonetheless used 59% of the total Lifesavers
first-year budget. No further Lifesavers financial
data is available.
As ANIMAL PEOPLE reported in
September 2000, Starr acknowledged that the
Lifesavers “rescues” horses mainly by purchasing
them at auction––a modus operandi
described as “horses for ransom” by Enzo
Giobe and Stacy Wilson, who cofounded the
International Generic Horse Association/
HorseAid in 1976. Starting long before
Lifesavers existed, Giobe and Wilson have
pointed out often that while bidding at slaughter
auctions may “save” the horses who are
bought, it also tends to raise the sale price of
horses, making the auction system more profitable
for the sellers, without at all reducing
the killer-buyers’ quotas. Each horse is
“saved” only because higher prices bring others
to the auction ring to be sold for slaughter.
A s ANIMAL PEOPLE a d d e d ,
Lifesavers’ mailings purport that the group is
saving horses from slaughter. But Lifesavers
in located in California, where the 1998
California Horse Slaughter Initiative outlawed
selling horses to slaughter for human consumption.
“However,” ANIMAL PEOPLE
acknowledged, “since the mailings do not say
which auctions Lifesavers attends, or where,
horses might be bought at dogmeat auctions or
in another state.”
Responded Lifesavers board member
Willis Lamm in the course of a four-page web
site attack on ANIMAL PEOPLE, “Anyone
who has had any serious dealings with the
California Horse Slaughter Initiative knows
that it is more of a public policy statement than
a law that will have any significant impact.
Just go to the Bakersfield or Turlock ‘killer
sales,’” Lamm charged, “and you’ll see
agents for the meat packers buying them by
the pound, horse after horse.”
Lamm also claimed A N I M A L
PEOPLE had ignored this. But as ANIMAL
P E O P L E e-mailed to Lamm while researching
the September expose, “If Lifesavers sent
out appeals explaining the loopholes in the
California law, that would serve a significantly
useful purpose. But the several appeals I
have seen, and that we have been getting calls
about for more than a year, skip lightly over
all the details. They raise money, but they
don’t educate.”
Lifesavers backers also “spammed”
ANIMAL PEOPLE advertisers with e-mails
urging them to end their accounts, to no evident
effect. Two advertisers who did not
renew their ads had already told us that they
were formulating new campaigns. Both said
they would probably advertise again later.
Facts
Brian Werner, Scott and Heidi
Riddle, and Eberle himself all claimed to have
been factually misrepresented by the
September 2000 ANIMAL PEOPLE expose.
Werner said he had not sent above
his own signature a list of National Rifle
Association allegations against various animal
rights groups, and claimed ANIMAL PEOP
L E had misread an automatic e-mail signature.
ANIMAL PEOPLE received the list by
fax, however, on Werner’s letterhead, with
no other source identification.
The Riddles said they would “state
emphatically that we do not support or practice
abusive elephant management techniques.”
But since 1986, and as recently as December
1999, Scott Riddle’s use of electroshock on
elephants has come under criticism not only
from humane activists but also from other professional
elephant handlers.
Eberle objected that “Neither I, nor
any of our companies was ever investigated by
Congress with regard to Paula Jones or our
efforts on her behalf,” although members of
the U.S. Senate did express concern that Jones’
testimony and that of fellow Eberle client
Linda Tripp in connection with allegations of
sexual misconduct against U.S. President Bill
Clinton might be tainted by their association
with fundraisers, among whom Eberle appears
to have been most prominent.
Eberle also said, “We never gave or
advanced $100,000 to Paula Jones, nor did we
guarantee her $300,000,” contrary to reports
by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chicago
T r i b u n e, and Dallas Morning News. “ O u r
original agreement had a guarantee,” said
Eberle, “but due to changed circumstances it
was not a part of the final arrangement.”
In addition, Eberle said that he had
not represented ex-Los Angeles police officer
Laurence Powell, who was convicted along
with fellow ex-officer Stacy Koon of beating
motorist Rodney King in 1992. An appeal
Eberle mailed for Koon, seemingly for
Powell as well, stated that “Officer Laurence
Powell and I are political scapegoats of black
radicals and self-serving liberal politicians.”

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

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