In the wake of a sexual harassment scandal that drove CEO Wayne Pacelle out of the top job at Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the group has now lost its accreditation as a charity from several of the nation’s leading charity rating groups, including the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Charity Navigator.
Humanewatch.org is reporting that the BBB’s charity oversight arm, the Wise Giving Alliance (WGA), has revoked HSUS’ charity status, and Charity Navigator has downgraded its rating to 2 out of 4 stars, with a 1 for poor financial management at the animal rights organization. The news was also reported by several agriculture groups, including Michigan Farm News, Drovers Online, Dairy Herd Management, and Protect the Harvest.
Another oversight group, Animal Charity Evaluators, rescinded its recommendation of HSUS, saying that “ethical leadership and a healthy work environment are critical components of an effective charity.”
Since news of the sexual harassment scandal broke in January, HSUS has struggled to regain its footing. A March 23 story in the Washington Post reported that sexual harassment allegations are not new to HSUS. The woman who succeeded Pacelle as CEO, Kitty Block, was a young lawyer at HSUS twenty-three years ago, when she and a colleague sued her boss, David Wills, then the organization’s Vice President for Investigations, for sexual harassment. Wills was fired as a result of the complaints.
The Post story also reported that some of HSUS’ six-figure donors are outraged that HSUS funds have been used to pay legal settlements related to sexual harassment claims. At least one of those donors, according to the report, is encouraging others to withhold financial support “until a full internal investigation has been completed and all current board members resign except those who voted to remove Pacelle.”