HSUS CEO resigns amid sexual harassment scandal


It’s a fitting end for the top dog at one of the nation’s most anti-agriculture organizations.

Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, has resigned amid an ongoing and growing scandal involving sexual harassment allegations at the organization. (He is the second HSUS executive since the calendar switched to 2018 to be ushered out for such reasons.)

Pacelle has been CEO of HSUS since 2004 and has used that platform to belittle, divide, and disparage the American farming and ranching communities. The allegations against Pacelle from three women, detailed last week in a report by The Washington Post, date to 2005. 

The HSUS board had voted to keep Pacelle on staff, and a statement on Friday from Rick Bernthal, chairman of the board, seemed to try to exonerate Pacelle, claiming that they “did not find that many of these allegations were supported by credible evidence.” Pacelle’s departure was announced soon after that statement, leaving many to speculate whether there were more allegations than had already been revealed, whether money was involved, or whether “some” of the allegations were supported by credible evidence.

Bernthal also said that non-disclosure agreements and severance packages for many past employees were not efforts to silence them. It was revealed last week that some women were demoted or dismissed after reporting Pacelle’s alleged predatory behavior.

Had Pacelle remained as CEO, it’s possible that benefactors would have made good on threats to withdraw funding. It has been widely reported over the years that the Humane Society of the United States uses less than 1 percent of its budget to help hands-on animal shelters, and that if you’re interested in helping shelter animals, your best move is to give directly to your local shelters, which have little to no affiliation to the national organization.

“While one predator is gone, the culture of corruption remains in place,” said Will Coggin, managing director at the Center for Consumer Freedom. “For years, Wayne Pacelle siphoned off millions for executive staff and pensions on the backs of the animals they claimed to protect. His enablers remain at HSUS and authorities need to investigate who knew what and when they knew it.”

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