WASHINGTON, DC – In March 2015, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) became officially targeted in a Congressional Ethics probe when the U. S. House Ethics Committee opened a formal investigation of Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) which involved potential violations of lobbying rules and other laws. The query focused on HSUS employee Ms Connie Harriman Whitfield, wife of Congressman Whitfield for allegedly improperly lobbying her husband on the PAST ACT. Ms. Whitfield answered directly to HSUS CEO Mr. Wayne Pacelle.
According to Politico, the Office of Congressional Ethics found that Whitfield’s office helped set up “as many as 100 meetings” for his wife’s organization and that he “conducted joint meetings with her “to promote [the HSLF’s] legislative priorities.” Connie Harriman-Whitfield has been a paid lobbyist for the organization since 2011.
MR. WAYNE PACELLE, MS CONNIE WHITFIELD, CONGRESSMAN ED WHITFIELD
HSUS (HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES) CEO MR. WAYNE PACELLE
BACKGROUND “WHITFIELD – HSUS EMPLOYEE” ETHICS INVESTIGATION
In the Fall of 2013, two momentous things occurred which shook the culture of Big Lick Animal Cruelty to its foundation:
- PAST ACT Poll – Coordinated by Political Consultant Clant M. Seay, TWHBEA Horse Show VP Pat Stout, mailed a post card poll ballot to 6,950 TWHBEA members asking for a “YES” or “NO” vote on the PAST ACT.
To the shock of the Big Lick supporters, TWHBEA members voted an overwhelming 63% “YES” to 37% “NO” to pass the PAST ACT.
ARCHITECT OF PAST ACT POLL OF TWHBEA MEMBERS
PAT STOUT, TWHBEA HORSE SHOW VICE PRESIDENT
- TWHBEA PAST PRESIDENT MARTY IRBY FLEES MIDDLE TENNESSEE AND GOES TO WASHINGTON TO WORK FOR PAST ACT Marty Irby became the Big Lick “Benedict Arnold”.
After leaving Middle Tennessee, Irby landed a job working for Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield to pass the PAST ACT. Irby worked closely with HSUS Lobbyist and Congressman Whitfield’s wife, Connie, on behalf of the PAST ACT. For a period of time during Fall 2013, Irby lived at the Whitfield residence in Washington.
MARTY IRBY AND PRISCILLA PRESLEY LOBBYING FOR THE PAST ACT
One day in Fall 2013, Marty Irby was seen by Licker supporters lobbying for the PAST ACT on Capitol Hill Irby was accompanied by a controversial former Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration employee. Word got back to Shelbyville, Tennessee, and after building Licker angst, and the November 2013 Congressional Committee Hearing when Irby testified on behalf of the PAST ACT, the following “Licker Letter” dated December 23, 2013 was mailed to the U. S. House Ethics Committee:
PSHA JEFFREY HOWARD AT AUG 2013 IRBY PRESS CONFERENCE
BIG LICKERS SIGNING LETTER TO HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE
Support for the PAST ACT grew in 2014, and in one of the rare times that the Sound Horse crowd “sort of” united, a “Walk On Washington” event was held on June 18, 2014. With Clant M Seay as Media Spokesperson, the event was successful and generated favorable publicity going forward.
Momentum was building, and then in a bombshell announcement on July 31, 2014, PAST ACT Sponsor Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) unexpectedly spit out the bit and QUIT on the PAST ACT.
Whitfield’s shocking announcement came just as Congress went on a five-week recess/
JULY 31, 2014 – CONGRESSMAN ED WHITFIELD QUITS ON PAST ACT
From July 31, 2014 to this day, Congressman Ed Whitfield has never communicated another word to the supporters of the PAST ACT.
SO WHAT REALLY HAPPENED FOR CONGRESSMAN WHITFIELD AND HSUS CEO MR. WAYNE PACELLE TO QUIT ON THE PAST ACT???
In July 2014, both Congressman Ed Whitfield and HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle knew they had a problem with a possible Ethics Investigation so it appears they selfishly did what was in their best respective best interest which was to pull the plug on the PAST ACT.
Mr. Wayne Pacelle especially knew a scandal over the PAST ACT could affect donations to HSUS and damage other priorities and goals of HSUS, so he apparently threw the PAST ACT under the bus.
Congressman Ed Whitfield faced the hugely expensive prospect of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend an ethics probe, so he knew he had to “get straight” with Speaker John Boehner, and also “get right” with Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to provide insulation for him if the Ethics probe progressed.
Next thing you know, PAST ACT Sponsor Ed Whitfield was on the Campaign Bus for Senator Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky re-election campaign. McConnell is steadfastly opposed to the passage of the PAST ACT.
In November 2014, things appeared to fall favorably for Congressman Whitfield and Mr. Pacelle when the House Ethics Committee appeared to pigeon-hole the Whitfield – HSUS Ethics matter.
Then in December 2014, despite the heroic efforts of the American people, the PAST ACT died.
It died because Mr. Pacelle apparently made no real effort or was not able to deliver on a statement to colleagues that he could influence Democrat Senate Majority Leader to invoke cloture and put the PAST ACT on the Senate Calendar for a vote in the 2014 lame duck session of Congress. Here is Mr. Pacelle’s statement contained in an email which became part of the OCE investigation record:
Then in an apparent attempt to cover himself and HSUS, Mr. Pacelle apparently approved a HSUS publicity stunt distributed to the public and press in December which blamed an “Unidentified Republican” Senator for the PAST ACT failing to get a vote in the Senate.
FAST FORWARD TO MARCH 2015 – The “other shoe” dropped on Congressman Ed Whitifeld and on HSUS CEO Mr. Wayne Pacelle when on March 27, 2015 the following happened.:
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) became officially embroiled in an official Congressional Ethics probe when the U. S. House Ethics Committee opened a formal investigation of Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) involving potential violations of lobbying rules and other laws. The query focused on HSUS employee and Congressman Whitfield’s wife, Ms Connie Harriman Whitfield, improperly lobbying her husband.
At the center of the ethics controversy was Ms. Connie Harriman Whitfield, wife of Congressman Whitfield, who was also a Humane Society employee and Lobbyist who answered directly to Mr. Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society.
The gravity of the HSUS – Whitfield matter was underscored by the fact that of 89 matters brought before the OCE (Office of Congressional Ethics), only four investigative subcommittees were appointed – one being the Whitfield – HSUS (Humane Society) matter. In three of the cases, the Congressman being investigated resigned from Congress before the Committee completed its work. Two of the elected officials pled guilty to criminal charges.
U. S. REP. ED WHITFIELD CAMPAIGNING FOR SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL
HSUS CEO WAYNE PACELLE, MS WHITFIELD AND CONGRESSMAN WHITFIELD AT PRESS CONFERENCE ON AMERICAN HORSE SLAUGHTER PREVENTION ACT
“A congressional ethics subcommittee has been directed to investigate whether U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield violated House rules in connection with his wife’s lobbying work for The Humane Society of the United States.
The investigative subcommittee will determine whether the Kentucky Republican used his office to benefit himself or his wife, Connie Harriman-Whitfield, and whether he “dispensed special favors or privileges” to her or her organization.
Harriman-Whitfield is senior policy adviser for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, which describes itself as “a separate lobbying affiliate” of The Humane Society of the United States.
The current probe does not appear to address ethical issues raised in a series of stories last summer by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. KyCIR reported that Whitfield, his wife and another lobbyist, Juanita Duggan, had a longstanding financial partnership and joint ownership in property at a West Virginia luxury resort.”
“Appointment of the investigative subcommittee follows a November report (2014) by the federal Office of Congressional Ethics that determined there was “substantial reason to believe” that Whitfield violated “House rules and standards of conduct” by having lobbying contacts with his wife and by permitting her to have lobbying contacts with his staff.
Harriman-Whitfield repeatedly contacted her husband’s office during the past three years concerning legislation she was supporting, and Whitfield’s staff responded by providing assistance, including scheduling meetings, to further her agenda, according to the OCE inquiry.
The OCE is an independent, non-partisan body charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against House members, officers and making referrals to the Committee on Ethics.
Whitfield, from Hopkinsville, in western Kentucky, easily won re-election last November to an 11th term.”
HSUS CEO WAYNE PACELLE
MS. CONNIE WHITFIELD, WIFE OF REP. WHITFIELD, AND HSUS LOBBYIST
The panel will look into whether Whitfield “violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other applicable standard of conduct in the performance of his duties or the discharge of his responsibilities, with respect to allegations that he failed to prohibit lobbying contacts between his staff and his wife, improperly used his official position for the beneficial interest of himself or his wife, and dispensed special favors or privileges to either his wife, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, or the Humane Society of the United States,” according to a joint statement released by the House Ethics Committee Chairman Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.).”
Then in July 20, 2015, Politico broke the following story:
WHITFIELD’S WIFE NO LONGER LOBBYING FOR HUMANE SOCIETY:
Connie Harriman Whitfield is no longer listed as a registered lobbyist for the Humane Society Legislative Fund. Harriman Whitfield, who was a paid lobbyist for the group since 2011, also has been removed from its website, though the group’s president said she is “transitioning” into a new role at The Humane Society of the United States.
The changes come as the House Ethics Committee has launched a full-scale investigation into whether Rep. Ed Whitfield improperly aided his wife’s lobbying work. The Kentucky Republican reported last week that he spent $50,000 on legal fees to Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft over the last three months. He also doled out $4,000 to Wiley Rein for legal work. It’s a significant uptick in spending — Whitfield spent $8,000 on legal fees during the first quarter to Wiley Rein.
The Office of Congressional Ethics found that Whitfield’s office helped organize “as many as 100 meetings” for the Humane Society and that he held joint meetings with his wife “to promote [the HSLF’s] legislative priorities.” Whitfield and his wife have denied any wrongdoing. A Whitfield spokesman declined to comment.
“Connie Harriman Whitfield is transitioning to a new role with The Humane Society of the United States, and is no longer lobbying for the Humane Society Legislative Fund,” said Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society president and CEO, in a statement. “The groups who brought the Ethics Committee complaint are engaged in tormenting horses for profit, and this complaint against the author of the legislation is just one of the many obstacles they’ve tried to place in its way.”
On September 29, 2015, Politico reported as follows:
WHITFIELD TO RETIRE AMID ETHICS PROBE – The Lexington Herald-Leader: “U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to a 12th term in Western and Southern Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District … Whitfield has been the subject of an ethics investigation during the past year that revolves around his wife, Connie, an attorney who worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States.”
“There is substantial reason to believe that Representative Whitfield permitted his wife to use his congressional office to advance and facilitate her lobbying activities and the lobbying activities of her employer in violation of House rules and standards of conduct,” the report stated.”
Nephew Eugene wonders how Mr. Wayne Pacelle, who has been a HSUS Lobbyist since 1994, and Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Society of the United States since 2004, could make such a colossal error in judgment which cost the PAST ACT its best chance of being passed when Democrat Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) was the U. S. Senate Majority Leader in 2014.
In January 2015, Representative Whitfield’s friend Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) became Majority Leader of the United States Senate in the 114th Congress which effectively ended any chances of the PAST ACT being enacted into law.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s term runs through 2020.