Commentary: Caribbean caper

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When you hear the phrase ‘Cayman Islands hedge fund,’ what comes to mind? Billionaires, financiers and venture capitalists, right? Now you can add (alleged) ‘animal activist group.’

One of the most irritating aspects of wading through the river of rhetoric that flows like the tides form the activist community dedicated to demonizing animal agriculture is the holier-then-thou tone that permeates their messaging.

Not only is the cause of animal rights or vegan lifestyles so much more than important than other priorities — affordable food, farm-sector security, rural development, among other issues — but the goals of most groups are cloaked in a moral superiority that justifies whatever tactics these groups decide to use.

Name-calling, mud-slinging, even property destruction and vandalism — it all gets whitewashed because no matter how far extremists go beyond what’s reasonable and appropriate, it’s okay — it’s for “the cause.”

Honestly, you’d have to spend a weekend at an animal rights convention to fully appreciate the parallel universe in which most true believer/veggie activists exist. And unlike religious evangelist types, they’re not interested in converting someone who isn’t onboard with their worldview. Instead, they react with laser-like loathing and criticism. If you support animal agriculture and meat-eating, then everything about your lifestyle and your personal values is corrupt.

But let’s turn that blanket condemnation around. If activists are engaged in something untoward, does that taint the entire organizational mission?

Here’s Exhibit A, and — surprise! — it involves the Humane Society of the United States, a group of professional charlatans who continue to suck up donations from unsuspecting supporters who mistakenly believe their money is helping to support local Humane Society pet rescue operations.

Parking its funding offshore

It turns out that the holier-than-thou HSUS is right there in bed with vulture capitalists and assorted “high net worth” financiers who stash their money offshore (wink, wink) as “investment vehicles.”

According to an investigation by Washington, D.C.-based Humane Watch, HSUS’s 2012 tax return shows a total of $25.7 million in various funds in the “Central American and the Caribbean” region.

“Where exactly is this $26 million invested?” the report stated. “It turns out HSUS funneled mega-bucks to several funds located in the Cayman Islands. You know — the secretive place where secretive people stuff their secretive money. Bond villain-type stuff.”

According to HSUS’s 990-T and supplemental tax forms, the funds are invested as follows:

  • $500,000 to Ascend Partners Fund I, L.P., a Cayman hedge fund
  • $253,000 to BKM Holdings Ltd. (Caymans)
  • $8 million to Fore Multi Strategy Offshore Fund, Ltd. (Caymans)
  • $5 million to Hayman Capital Offshore Partners, L.P. (Bermuda)
  • $6.7 million invested in Fir Tree International Value Fund (Caymans)

In its report, Humane Watch asked the obvious question: “Why would a U.S. charity be putting $26 million in the Caribbean?”

Allow me to answer that question. Ostensibly, HSUS is a non-profit that never tires of touting its track record in advocating for animal welfare. That’s what they say their mission is all about.

But like any other multi-million dollar organization these days, HSUS understands that parking money offshore provides valuable investment and tax benefits. Like spending the money the group raises through fund-raising on even more fund-raising, its “Caymans strategy” is justified because it’s in service to the noble cause of animal welfare.

But the bottom line for HSUS is clearly the bottom line. More money means more leverage. A bigger bank account funds high-level anti-industry campaigns. And the investment returns on a multi-million portfolio support “competitive” salaries for HSUS executives, plus extra cash to use in lobbying efforts.

Despite what their marketing materials claim, the group is not in the business of funneling cash to struggling local pet shelters and rescue operations, it’s priority is investing money in hedge funds to make as big a profit as possible.

As Humane Watch noted, “It’s hard to save animals when you’ve parked $25 million offshore.”

All those well-meaning donors who truly care about homeless and abandoned pets ought to simply write a check directly to their local shelter, rather than forking over cash to an organization that takes that donation and sticks it into an offshore bank account.

Hard to square that “strategy” with the crying need to support the local organizations doing the actual work of saving animals.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.



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Randy Janssen    
Texas  |  April, 05, 2014 at 12:32 PM

The ASPCA is no better. The ASPCA is not your local volunteer animal shelter. The ASPCA has been hijacked by radical animal rights activist. It is an over one hundred fifty million dollar corporation that spends almost every dime it gets on obscene salaries and filing lawsuits. It raises money by showing ads of cute dogs and cats, but it spends less then 10% to feed and shelter cats and dogs. Real animal shelters complain that the ASPCA gets the money they need to feed and shelter cats and dogs. The ASPCA spends money on the vegan activist group Mercy and for advertisements to make more money. The ASPCA has been found guilty of racketeering in Florida. THE ASPCA IS AGAINST RODEO AND WESTERN TRADITIONS. The ASPCA IS FOR A VEGETARIAN LIFESTYLE AND AGAINST EATTING MEAT. The ASPCA wants to change our eating habits and standard of living by outlawing farming methods that are used on family farms. The ASPCA is bad for America so don't applaud its lackeys. If you want to support something, think about giving to the child fund, St. Jude, the Wounded Warriors, or you local food bank. If you want to help animals, give money to you local animal shelter. Giving money to the ASPCA is giving money to a bloated bureaucracy that waste it on salaries and litigation. It claims to do good but if you really look at what it does, it only piggybacks on the work of local organizations.

Laurella Desborough    
Florida  |  April, 05, 2014 at 01:26 PM

I would like to contact Dan Murphy in order to secure permission to reprint this article in a magazine because the information is outstanding and more pro-animal- use people need to see it. So, please send Dan this message and my email address.

Graybull    
Wyo  |  April, 05, 2014 at 11:11 PM

Good Job!…….like with most things……….it IS about the money. These type of organizations are about money………NOT about what is best for the animals.

Terry Ward    
pa  |  April, 06, 2014 at 02:55 PM

Bummer..I thought this was going to be a Miss Marple episode.

Robert    
Kentucky  |  April, 07, 2014 at 09:14 AM

Hmmmm... In the interest of transparency, have you checked out the makeup of Humane Watch itself? A simple Google search will reveal that it isn't a watchdog group at all, but something more calculated. In fact, go to their website where they are not bashful in their mission, which is: "Keeping a watchful eye on the HSUS." Doesn't sound like an unbiased organization to me. Not that the HSUS is above reproach, but come on Dan, let's be a little more balanced here!

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  April, 07, 2014 at 10:04 PM

Robert, your point is validation of Humae Watch. The organization is very above board about purpose and funding, unlike the Humane Society of the United States. Dan Murphy didn't say Humane Watch wasn't biased. But being biased doesn't detract from the facts. HSUS has devolved into a tool of greed. HSUS is under IRS investigation for violating rules on non-profit organizations. Humane Watch isn't. HSUS lost a RICO law suit brought by Feld Entertainment. Remember, the RICO statute is the law used to prosecute ogranized crime. HSUS keeps a phalanx of lawyers on staff to write legislative proposals and ballot initiatives. What I don't understand Robert is why you would be an apologist for HSUS, unless you are an HSUS member or employee. Is that the case?

Robert    
Kentucky  |  April, 09, 2014 at 09:56 AM

Thom. Clearly, you miss the point. To point out the obvious hardly makes one an "apologist." And of course I DID say that HSUS is NOT above reproach, no? I have to say that this forum is a fine way to get ideas out there, but I sometimes wonder about the tone of discussion. That one doesn't agree is perfectly normal, that one hints at unsubstantiated accusations suggests an unwillingness to dialogue. Why bother discussing at all then?

Diane    
Da Bronx  |  April, 14, 2014 at 05:11 PM

The Center for Consumer Freedom/Humane Watch is just one of HSUS's many critics. The majority of the people opposing HSUS's tactics are members of the animal welfare community. Many are former HSUS donors like myself. The Humane Farming Association has exposed Wayne Pacelle for the self-serving and dishonest opportunist he is. The HFA and other animal groups that opposed the cynical "Rotten Egg Bill" collaboration between HSUS and United Egg producers helped defeat it by publicizing the RICO charges against HSUS and the price fixing lawsuits and settlements against UEP. The strategy of using Humane Watch and "Dr. Evil" as a defense every time someone brings up their many scandals and sleazy practices has proven to be a big blunder and a sick tactic. Pacelle publicly blamed CCF and other "cruelty purveyors" after the Louisiana Attorney General opened an investigation of HSUS's mismanagement of the $35 million raised "for Katrina animals." Anyone familiar with Katrina animal rescue knows that it was HSUS's own volunteers, local and national animal organizations, and New Orleans pet owners angry with HSUS for losing track of their pets and shipping them off to kill shelters that led to the 18 month effort to get HSUS to account for the $35 million and back up Pacelle's false claims about where most of the money went. HSUS escaped criminal charges only because of a disclaimer on their website allowing the group to use Katrina donations on "other disasters." HSUS fundraised just as aggressively after Hurricane Sandy. When the NY AG asked for an accounting, HSUS said it spent just $700,000 of the $2 million reported. I suspect a chunk of the true amount raised is now in the Caymans. Is that CCF's doing too?


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