Farm Sanctuary fined $50,000 in Florida
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2003:
TALLAHASSEE, Florida–The Florida Elections Commission has
fined Farm Sanctuary $50,000 for 210 alleged willful violations of
campaign fundraising laws in connection with the passage of Amendment
10, a November 2002 initiative which banned the use of farrowing
crates to raise pigs in a state which had only two working pig farms.
One of those farms was already going out of business, and
state and federal water quality regulations virtually ensure that no
others can be started in Florida.
“Farm Sanctuary raised nearly half a million dollars from
people coast to coast for the Florida ballot measure, in large part,
I assert by falsely promising tax deductions” for campaign
contributions, attorney Allan D. Teplinsky of Northridge,
California, told the Florida Elections Commission in requesting the
strictest possible penalty.
Teplinsky, who filed the complaint that initiated the
prosecution, has not responded to an ANIMAL PEOPLE inquiry as to why
he pursued the case. He has no known prior history involving animal
Teplinsky pointed out that by routing funding to the campaign
through its New York headquarters, Farm Sanctuary “succeeded in
keeping political contributors’ names and addresses away from public
view and government scrutiny..in contradiction of the basic purpose
of Florida’s campaign finance laws.”
“Earlier,” Teplinsky added, “Flori-dans for Humane Farms
convinced Florida officials to waive tens of thousands of dollars in
fees associated with the processing of petition signatures, by
claiming that the fees would have been an overwhelming financial
hardship to the supposed ‘volunteer’-run initiative campaign.”
Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Bauston accused ANIMAL PEOPLE of
practicing “negativity and divisiveness” by reporting about the
Florida charges, which resulted in the heaviest penalties ever
assessed against an animal advocacy group for violations of campaign
finance and public disclosure laws.
The laws involved usually help public interest groups to
overcome the economic strength of big corporations, by clarifying to
voters and news media who supports what.
Farm Sanctuary was not alone among animal advocacy groups in
being penalized. The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission
in January 2003 fined Protect Our Pets and Wildlife the applicable
maximum of $2,500 for failing to promptly disclose the purchase of
$535,205 in TV advertising time during a successful 2000 initiative
effort to ban the use of bodygripping furbearer traps. Protect Our
Pets and Wildlife attorney Shawn Newman promised to appeal. Winning
55% of the vote, the Protect Our Pets and Wildlife initiative was
funded primarily by the Humane Society of the U.S.
The fine was announced soon after Washington State Senate
Fish, Parks, and Wildlife Committee chair Bob Oke (R-Port Townsend)
introduced a bill to repeal most of the initiative. The Oke repeal
bill, one of two before the Washington Senate, on February 10 was
approved by the Fish, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and sent to the
Rules Committee for further review.