If you get USA Today, the Center for Consumer Freedom has put out a new full-page ad that calls out Eric Bernthal, chairman of the board of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), for defending a recent board decision to retain Wayne Pacelle as CEO despite credible reports of sexual harassment against Pacelle. The ad also reminds people that HSUS isn’t affiliated with local groups and that donations are better served going to a local shelter.
In January, news broke that the HSUS board of directors had hired a law firm to investigate sexual harassment by Pacelle. However, the board, led by Bernthal, voted Feb. 1 to cancel the investigation and keep Pacelle as CEO. One board member went so far as to say, “Which red-blooded male hasn’t sexually harassed somebody?” Accusations included Pacelle offering to masturbate in front of an employee and rubbing his genitals on another staffer. A number of women had also complained about sexually harassing behavior by an HSUS vice president in 2016, who was given a lateral promotion in response to complaints. Several women received settlements for retaliation after reporting sexual harassment claims
Donor backlash and public outcry over the board’s vote led Pacelle to resign the next day. Bernthal has refused to apologize for Pacelle’s alleged conduct.
“Eric Bernthal’s continued leadership of the HSUS board is proof positive that the abusive culture of sexual harassment created by Wayne Pacelle will go unchanged at HSUS,” said Will Coggin, managing director of CCF. “How can donors expect HSUS to protect animals when it won’t even protect the women in its employ?”