New allegations help to put anonymous communication into context
WASHINGTON D.C.––Rescuers of lame ducks in the Washington D.C. region are high alert after Washington Post national labor issues reporter Danielle Paquette on January 29, 2018 revealed alleged details of workplace misconduct claims made by at least three women against Humane Society of the U.S. president Wayne Pacelle.
Whether Pacelle would be welcomed now by any rescuers of injured barnyard fowl, even compassionate quacks, remains to be seen.
While Pacelle’s legislative record includes little pertaining to ducks, it has included several compromises allegedly retarding reforms on behalf of chickens and pigeons, pointed out by––among others––United Poultry Concerns founder Karen Davis, Humane Farming Association president Brad Miller, and Showing Animals Respect & Kindness founder Steve Hindi.
(See Legalizing California Battery Cages: HSUS & Egg Industry Redefine Proposition 2 in Toxic Ballot Measure, Costco, General Mills, Prop 2, and HSUS: New Day – Same Problem, and Pigeon shoots––that HSUS said it stopped––continue in Maryland.)
The Paquette exposé helped to put into context a 14-page dossier consisting mostly of HSUS internal documents sent anonymously to ANIMALS 24-7 on December 29, 2016 with a cover note from a person who identified herself only as a young female HSUS employee. While that source does not appear to have been among Paquette’s sources, she provided information tending to support Paquette’s sources’ allegations.
Citing interviews with “two people familiar with the matter,” whom Paquette did not name, and an HSUS internal memo “describing the investigation,” Paquette wrote that an ongoing probe by the Morgan Lewis law firm found that HSUS “offered settlements to three other workers who said they were demoted or dismissed after reporting Pacelle’s alleged behavior.”
The investigation, commissioned by the HSUS board of directors, is led by Morgan Lewis labor and employment practice chief Grace Speights.
“Career success” & “romantic relationships”
Wrote Paquette, “Investigators from the law firm Morgan Lewis, who interviewed 33 people, including Pacelle, also reported that there was a perception within HSUS that certain women owed their career success to romantic relationships with the chief executive.
“The memo,” Paquette added, “said that several former high-ranking women had warned Pacelle that his sexual relationships with subordinates, donors and volunteers could hurt the charity. The memo notes that Pacelle, while not directly addressing the issue, said he had changed his behavior as he grew older.”
Pacelle––who has not responded to an ANIMALS 24-7 invitation to comment––“denied the complaints from all three women,” Paquette said, calling the matter “a coordinated attempt to attack me and the organization. I absolutely deny,” Pacelle asserted “any suggestion that I did anything untoward.”
Pacelle said nobody warned him
Added Paquette, Pacelle “denied allegations he had consensual sex with donors and volunteers as ‘just ad hominem attacks.’ Pacelle said that he was aware of the investigation but added: ‘There are allegations only. Beware of rumors and other unsubstantiated claims.’ And he said no senior women had warned him about his conduct.”
“Absolutely not,” Pacelle told Paquette. “I enjoy the support of senior women throughout the organization. No one has ever warned me of such a thing, ever.”
However, while ANIMALS 24-7 cannot attest to whatever “senior women” at HSUS might have said to Pacelle directly, or senior men at HSUS for that matter, ANIMALS 24-7 can attest to having been told by multiple current and former HSUS vice presidents, both female and male, in the 1994-1996 time frame that they had warned Pacelle about reckless womanizing.
The warnings came in the wake of a serious scandal involving former HSUS vice president for investigations David Wills.
Pacelle had for about five years been often associated with Wills, but distanced himself after several female employees accused Wills of sexual harassment and embezzling. Fired by HSUS in November 1995, Wills was eventually convicted of embezzlement.
Employed for several years thereafter by animal use industry organizations, Wills went on to promote failed shrimp farming ventures in Texas and South Africa. Wills is now facing trial in Texas, in a repeatedly delayed case, for allegedly trafficking a nine-year-old girl for purposes of sexual exploitation. The charges surfaced in 2015.
Continued Paquette, “Some employees defended Pacelle to investigators, describing him as someone who engaged in consensual relationships with adults. Others said the chief executive created a toxic environment at the Humane Society in which workers thought they had to sleep with Pacelle to get ahead, or suspected women who achieved career success of dating him in secret, according to the memo. The people briefed on the investigation told The Post they wanted to come forward to repair the culture at HSUS.”
The anonymous young female HSUS employee sent her dossier to ANIMALS 24-7 about four months after former HSUS farm animal campaign manager Paul Shapiro was transferred to another position at HSUS in September 2016, amid allegations on social media that he had been accused of sexual harassment.
After Shapiro left HSUS on January 2, 2018, the allegations were revived and amplified by Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, who has never been employed by HSUS and appears to have been acting on behalf of others.
“He was protected”
The anonymous young female HSUS employee did not name Shapiro, however, and stipulated that she was not among the people who had accused him to superiors of sexual harassment.
But, she charged, “He slept with subordinates. He took interns to bed. The ones he didn’t sleep with know him as a psychological harasser and bully.”
Most explosively, the anonymous young female HSUS employee alleged, “He was protected by Eric Bernthal [HSUS board chair], Anita Coupe [a senior HSUS board member], Chuck Laeu [an HSUS board member since 2013], Mike [vice president for legislation Mike Markarian], and Wayne [Pacelle].
“Women don’t lead here”
“Now we are getting anti-harassment training, which is overdue, but too little, too late,” the anonymous young female HSUS employee said. “It’s not going to change a misogynist world view that is HSUS under Wayne. And there is no leadership to compensate or challenge that. [Vice presidents] Heidi Prescott and Holly Hazard,” both longtime associates of Pacelle in connection with other organizations before coming to HSUS, “are useless,” she charged. “Laura Maloney,” previously executive director at the Louisiana SPCA, “tried to do some good, but she’s gone. Women don’t lead here; they are beaten down, ignored, or driven away.”
Markarian on December 6, 2016 distributed to HSUS personnel new employee handbook policies on “employee dating” and “against sexual and other types of harassment.”
Those policies are posted in full below this article.
“Cover-up will implicate others”
Offered a well-connected former HSUS executive, “The cover-up,” alleged of both the Shapiro and Pacelle cases, “will implicate others – likely staff and board,” and possibly female employees who were apparently complicit and benefiting from whatever was going on.
“Wayne, like his predecessors, acquired and wielded power with a degree of ruthlessness that made some devoted enemies,” the former executive observed.
“I am not sure how the larger membership will react,” the former HSUS executive added. “Although the numbers heavily favor women, the majority of members identify as Republicans. As we’ve learned, GOP women seem perfectly okay with the philanderer-in-chief. I always pondered that our conservative benefactors leaned more favorably toward supporting pets than social safety nets.”
Of the leadership transition believed to be impending at HSUS, the former HSUS executive believed most of the potential successors to Pacelle identified earlier by ANIMALS 24-7 would be eliminated through their associations with the Pacelle regime, including Prescott, Hazard, Markarian, and Humane Society International division chief Kitty Block.
Senior vice president and former chief of staff Andrew Rowan, the former HSUS executive said, “will be considered too old, unless he is selected as the interim president” while a permanent successor to Pacelle is identified.
HSUS on January 30, 2018 re-introduced a new vice president for companion animals, Amy Nichols, 43, whose hiring on November 1, 2017 was previously announced via media release on November 27, 2017. The position had been open for about a year following the departure of predecessor Betsy McFarland.
Recounted Nichols via the HSUS “Sheltering” online newsletter The Scoop, “In 2001, I left my first career to start Happy Tails Dog Spa. Later renamed Dogtopia, the first location—9,000 square feet—opened in Tysons Corner, Virginia,” in the Washington D.C. suburbs, “in June 2002.
“At one year in,” Nichols said, “we were on track to bring in more than $700,000 in revenue in the first year and more than $1 million the next year. I decided to franchise the business and ultimately grew it to 40 locations in the United States and Canada before I sold it to a private equity firm in 2015. For the next two years I dabbled in technology start-ups, but greatly missed working with and for animals.”
With background in business, finance, franchising, personnel management, and technology start-ups, but none in animal care-and-control, Nichols does not match the profile of most previous HSUS vice presidents for companion animals. She would, however, appear to be a strong candidate to become chief executive.
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HSUS policies on harassment & dating