(Editor’s Note: Interview Invitations were extended last week to HSUS CEO Mr. Wayne Pacelle and to Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). Mr. Pacelle declined through his representative, and no response was forthcoming from Congressman Whitfield’s representative)
WASHINGTON, DC – The PAST ACT failed to get Floor Votes in the House or the Senate in the recently concluded lame duck session of Congress, despite the hard work of the American People which resulted in 308 House supporters, including 118 Republicans (two more than “Hastert Rule” requires), and 60 U. S. Senate supporters.
Although not the only reason, the primary explanation of “WHY” the PAST ACT didn’t make it were crucial decisions reached by Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and HSUS CEO Mr. Wayne Pacelle to not go “all out” to pass the PAST ACT in the final days of the lame duck session of Congress.
Neither Congressman Whitfield nor Mr. Pacelle were willing to make the final push necessary to Pass the PAST ACT in the face of the probing of the OCE (Office of Congressional Ethics investigation), and what each of them knew would be revealed to the public.
Also, Congressman Whitfield would not buck House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on a “boutique animal cruelty bill” because it could possibly hurt his Committee assignments and party relationships upon which Whitfield’s important monied constituents depend.
Despite assurances that he would do so, Congressman Whitfield failed to lead an all out push for a PAST ACT House Floor vote once Congress returned to work following the November 4, 2014 election.
And strangely, Congressman Ed Whitfield also inexcusably neglected to personally communicate directly with PAST ACT supporters when the Bill died on December 11, 2014.
Some say the PAST ACT actually died on October 29, 2014, when Congressman Ed Whitfield got on the bus with U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to campaign through his First District of Kentucky for McConnell’s re-election:
REP. ED WHITFIELD CAMPAIGNING FOR SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL
U. S. CONGRESSMAN ED WHITFIELD (R-KY)
WAYNE PACELLE, CEO, THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES
The decisions by Representative Whitfield and Mr. Pacelle were apparently made in late summer 2014, when they realized the full extent of the possible detrimental impact of the Office of Congressional Ethics inquiry into the relationship between Congressman Whitfield and The Humane Society Of The United States. It all centered around Constance (Connie) Harriman-Whitfield*, who is Whitfield’s wife and Mr. Pacelle’s Senior Policy Advisor.
In particular, the OCE investigation was to determine if Ms. Harriman-Whitfield lobbied her Congressman husband or his staff on the PAST ACT, and if Congressman Whitfield granted special favors or privileges to Ms. Harriman-Whitfield, either in her capacity as a lobbyist, or to her employer, The Humane Society Of The United States.
The matters apparently came to a head when Whitfield met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), in late July 2014, asking for a Floor Vote on the PAST ACT, and was refused.
Mr. Whitfield issued the following public statement on July 31, 2014:
“I regret to inform you that Speaker of the House, John Boehner, currently refuses to bring the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to the floor for a vote.”
But coming out of the July 31, 2014 refusal, Whitfield led Sound Horse advocates to believe that once:
- The Nov. 4, 2014 Election Took Place,
- The Ethics Probe on Nov. 10, 2014 indicated no formal investigation was authorized,
- The Hastert Rule was satisfied in the U. S. House,
- That 60 Senators would make the Bill filibuster proof,
an all out push to pass the PAST ACT and get a Floor Vote in either the House or Senate, or preferably both, would be made.
There was no Final All Out Push.
Congressman Whitfield appeared to be all but missing in action during the final days.
Sadly, all requirements were met, but Congressman Ed Whitfield failed to deliver on his assurances.
Congressman: Wife didn’t lobby on horse bill
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – A Republican congressman from Kentucky said his lobbyist wife did not improperly spur him to introduce a bill concerning the possible abuse of Tennessee walking horses and there’s no basis for an ethics complaint against him.
U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, said in a conference call with reporters on Monday that he had planned to file the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act – the PAST Act – regardless of the role his wife played with her employer. His wife, Constance Harriman Whitfield, is a lobbyist with the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
The U.S. House Ethics Committee notified Whitfield on June 10 that it received a referral from the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. That independent office makes referrals to the House Ethics Committee on which cases warrant further investigation.
“It’s not about any money. It’s not about any payoffs,” Whitfield said. “It’s not about taking a bribe or anything like that.”
Tennessee walking horses are shown throughout the United States. Soring – using an irritant to cause burning or blistering of the horses’ legs in order to accentuate their gaits – occurs only in a few areas such as Tennessee and Kentucky.
Whitfield’s proposal came after a 2010 Report of the Inspector General at the United States Department of Agriculture. In that report, the Inspector General concluded that the current program for inspecting Tennessee Walking Horses for soring abuse is not adequate because the inspectors are hired from participants in the shows.
The proposal has drawn opposition from the Performance Show Horse Association and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who is sponsoring a competing bill.
Blackburn has argued that the show-horse industry’s compliance with the current ban on soring is around 97 percent, thereby making any tougher inspections unnecessary.
“This legislation brings excessive regulatory burdens on the walking horse industry and could potentially eliminate the entire industry and thus the entire breed,” Blackburn has said.
Blackburn’s office did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.
Whitfield said it appears the ethics complaint against him is directed at derailing the PAST Act, which has drawn 305 co-sponsors in the House and 57 for a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.
“They’ve developed this strategy to create an additional issue to deal with,” Whitfield said.
For now, the bill is being discussed by House leaders and committee chairman to see if it will get a hearing and vote before Congress adjourns for the session later this year.
“I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. It’s possible that with the publicity around this ethics complaint, they may not do anything with the bill,” Whitfield said. “Our whole story is, no she did not lobby me on it.”
On July 31, 2014, when the public last heard from Mr. Whitfield on the PAST ACT, the PAST ACT supporters were not aware of the breadth and scope of the Office of Congressional Ethics investigation.
QUESTIONS BEGGED ON JULY 31, 2014
- Was the “Fix” in all along with Boehner?
- How much did the Ethics Probe into Ed Whitfield factor into Boehner’s decision?
- When did the date for mounting a discharge petition expire?
- Why did Whitfield let the date expire without utilizing the Discharge Option to get the bill to the floor for a house vote.
It was not until November 10, 2014, that the full extent of the Ethics Probe came to light when documents relating to same were made public. In the words of one 30+ year Sound Horse Advocate, “It is sickening on every level”. The Republican House leadership had obviously known about the inquiry for months, and it apparently was making them terribly uncomfortable.
The OCE investigation also made HSUS CEO Mr. Wayne Pacelle extremely nervous.
Wayne Pacelle knew that his Equine Protection VP Keith Dane, Head Lobbyist Sara Amundson along with HSUS officials Mike Makarian, Mimi Brodie, and his Special Advisor Ms. Connie Harriman-Whitfield were involved up to their eyeballs in the ethics probe.
MIKE MAKARIAN, HSUS PROGRAM OFFICER
KEITH DANE, HSUS EQUINE PROTECTION – VP
Mr. Pacelle knew that sworn depositions of Whitfield’s Chief of Staff Corey Hicks, the Congressman’s Scheduler, Communications Director Marty Irby and Ms. Connie Harriman-Whitfield had been taken, and they would be made public and implicate his employees. He also knew that the disclosure and discussion of these matters and the internal emails of all these HSUS officials in public forums would be dreadfully embarrassing to The Humane Society of the United States.
Mr. Pacelle knew it could affect the image of the HSUS and materially harm its fund raising, and the various other issues in which the organization is involved.
In short, a messy embarrassing involvement in the Whitfield Ethics Matter would not be good for the HSUS.
Mr. Pacelle then apparently made a corporate decision to pull the plug on pushing for the PAST ACT to get a Floor Vote in the 2014 Congress.
It was not dissimilar to the HSUS “12th hour” decision made on June 17, 2014 to “pull the plug” on “Dutch” appearing at historic “WALK ON WASHINGTON” ostensibly because it was too hot, but then it was apparently not too hot for Mr. Pacelle to show up the next day, June 18, 2014, and get his picture taken and distribute it to HSUS donors.
Then in late summer, when both Congressman Whitfield and CEO Pacelle each pulled back on an all out attempt to push the PAST ACT for House and Senate Floor votes, the American People supporting the proposed law didn’t get the message.
They continued to work like trojans into the Fall and ended up getting the endorsements of U. S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (which the HSUS wasn’t able to secure), and U. S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) who rarely, if ever, co-sponsors legislation. They also nailed down the U.S House Republican Dave Brat (R-VA) to satisfy the Hastert Rule in the House, and then got a spare in Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).
So then the final push was supposed to be done by Congressman Whitfield and Mr. Wayne Pacelle, except there was no discernible Final Push by either of them.
On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, Mr. Pacelle issued a self-serving HSUS Press Release entitled “Unidentified Senate Republican Hold Blocks Bill To Protect Horses”. It detailed a too little too late “Hot Line” Senate procedure which is nothing more than a call asking if anyone opposes, and Mr. Pacelle already darn well knew that Senator McConnell’s bunch was opposed, and then laughably, Mr. Pacelle attempted to blame an “unidentified Republican” for blocking the Bill in his Press Release. This was hard to understand because the entire thrust of the PAST ACT was its BIPARTISAN support. And without solid Republican support, the Bill would not have come close to being in a position to pass.
Interestingly, Mr. Pacelle’s gambit was preceded by a hokey Friday, December 5, 2014,letter entitled “Congressional Leaders Urged to Act on Legislation to Stop Horse Abuse”. (Even Nephew Eugene knows that nobody is around in Washington on a Friday afternoon to read “letters” from the HSUS or anybody else for that matter.)
Mr. Pacelle knew a full year before in December 2013, that it was going to take U.S Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to put the matter on the Senate Floor and the invoke cloture.
On December 16, 2013, Wayne Pacelle wrote:
“If Commerce passes it, then Reid, if we give him enough time , can do a cloture vote on it. This would be our one cloture vote ask of him this Congress. We’ve got enough ins with him that we just might get it done.”
The bottom line is on December 10, 2014, Mr. Pacelle was attempting to cover his organization’s derriere for his not going full bore to get lame duck Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to do a cloture vote to pass the PAST ACT.
So along with Mr. Pacelle and Congressman Whitfield throwing the PAST ACT under the bus, who were the other players in its demise.
All the details will be explored in depth in the following parts of this article:
“WHY THE PAST ACT DIDN”T MAKE IT”.