Lawmakers Can Be Manipulated by Fringe Groups

Lawmakers Should Be Mindful of Manipulation by Fringe Special Interest Groups

Fringe groups, driven by a mission to dismantle animal agriculture, are employing cunning and strategic tactics to influence lawmakers. Their focus on animals, farming, and ranching is particularly concerning, as they often present legislation in a deliberately misleading manner, taking advantage of the busy schedules of representatives.

A recent article by Sean Spicer in the Washington Examiner shed light on the activities of these animal rights groups and how they are gaining access to lawmakers who traditionally support agriculture. He points out that some of these groups are leveraging the universal fondness for dogs and cats to advance legislation that does little to improve the welfare of animals and, at the same time, will negatively impact animal agriculture. This manipulation of lawmakers with disinformation or partial information is a cause for concern.

PACs Making Donations and Endorsements on Both Sides of the Aisle

Traditionally, these fringe ideological groups have focused primarily on providing endorsements and campaign support for lawmakers on just one side of the aisle. However, over the last number of years, these groups have learned that they need to influence a broader selection of lawmakers to successfully push forward legislation that will help implement their agenda. This bipartisan influence is a warning to producers to be more vigilant about their activities and the potential impact of their actions. Listed below are some of the groups actively pursuing lawmakers at the federal, state, and local levels.

Congressional Animal Protection Caucus

The Congressional Animal Protection Caucus is supported and promoted by regular anti-animal agriculture organizations like the ASPCA, HSUS, HSLF, and more. The veterinary arm of the HSUS, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Alliance promotes the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus on its website, “HSVMA’s affiliate, the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), has worked hand-in-hand with the Caucus since its inception. Mimi Brody, HSLF’s director of federal affairs said, “We co-host congressional briefings on key bills with the Animal Welfare Institute and ASPCA in cooperation with the Caucus. The caucus now has 160 members, having nearly doubled in size from 84 members in 2013.”

Animal Wellness Action

The website Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics, shows that the political action committee (PAC) Animal Wellness Action (AWA), run by former HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, is making campaign donations to lawmakers from both political parties with close to a 50/50 split. Animal Wellness Action, known for its animal liberation ideology, is pushing legislation designed to negatively impact animal agriculture. Over 80 lawmakers have received campaign donations from the organization. Lawmakers from states with significant agricultural influence, such as Texas, Ohio, Florida, Washington, California, Colorado, Iowa, and Nebraska, are among the recipients of these donations. It is also noteworthy to examine their donor list, which includes individuals like PETA-affiliated animal rights activists Carol and Howard Baskin from Tiger King fame.

Humane Society Legislative Fund

The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) is the legislative arm of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) which is now run by an attorney who previously worked for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Historically, the HSLF has primarily focused on democratic party members, but they have expanded their sphere of influence in recent years. The 2022 election cycle shows a donation split of 65.07% to Democrats and 34.93% to Republicans. Interestingly, many of the same HSLF recipients also appear on the Open Secrets list for Animal Wellness Action. The same goes for the list of donors.

Voters For Animal Rights

Voters for Animal Rights is a 501c4 that endorses candidates for elected office in New York. According to their website, “Voters For Animal Rights (VFAR) helps elect candidates who support animal protection, lobby for strong laws to stop animal cruelty, and hold elected officials accountable to humane voters”. The website goes on to state, “We absolutely need to codify rights for animals into laws so that corporations, farms, labs, zoos and other industries that are exploiting animals for profit cannot continue these abusive practices.”

Texas Humane Legislation Network

In 2017, the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) started a political action committee to push its ideology in the state of Texas. An interview of THLN leaders in the San Antonio Express-News revealed that the group was formed to “finally give back to the people that have worked so hard for us. We would ask these legislators to work really hard on our issues.” Because of their activities in the state of Texas, THLN has come to the attention of several watch groups concerned about movements against agriculture. In their three-part series about the activities of THLN, Protect The Harvest reported that THLN is affiliated with HSUS, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and Animal Wellness Action. The Capital Research Center’s Influence Watch group also reported, “Texas Humane Legislation Network is an animal liberation advocacy group which focuses on legislation involving animal rights in the state of Texas. THLN lobbies and participates in partisan activities, allowing the group to influence legislation in support of its animal rights agenda.”

Colorado Voters for Animals

Colorado Voters for Animals is a 501c4 organization that opposes animal exhibitions and competitions, and pushes a host of other animal-related issues. . The Colorado Legislative Animal Welfare (CLAW) Caucus dates back to 2011 and was modeled after the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC). Like other similar organizations, CVFA has a listing of scorecards for lawmakers in the state.

New Lawmakers are Especially Vulnerable

Most producers are unaware that organizations like the HSUS, HSLF, and Animal Wellness Action have an organized group of volunteers and regional and state directors who are tasked with targeting new lawmakers in different states. According to an article produced by Protect The Harvest, “Subtly and in increments, they are making progress in legislation on the state and federal levels. They do this by directly influencing new, up-and-coming lawmakers by masquerading as authentic animal welfarists or friends of small farmers. They often target individuals who do not have a strong background in animal industries but genuinely want to do the right thing.”

Be Vigilant and Stay in Communication

We urge agricultural producers to pay close attention to the campaign funding their representatives receive, their voting history, the legislation they sponsor, and the letters they sign. The best way to counteract the influence of these groups is for lawmakers to hear directly from their own constituents. Direct communication and establishing relationships are powerful and greatly augment the work producer groups and other industry representatives do on our behalf.

We can hardly blame new lawmakers unfamiliar with agriculture or the true ideology of these groups for jumping at the opportunity for endorsements, public relations support, and campaign donations. If we don’t take action through communication, we only have ourselves to blame if lawmakers make mistakes that impact their constituents.


Open Secrets link to information about Animal Wellness Action HERE

Open Secrets link to information about Humane Society Legislative Fund HERE

Letter to Ag Committee by Animal Wellness Action HERE

Protect The Harvest article about how special interest groups target new lawmakers HERE

Sentient Media article about Voters for Animal Rights HERE

Express News Article about Texas Humane Legislative Network HERE

Protect The Harvest article about Texas Humane Legislative Network (Part 1) HERE

Oregon Live article about the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus HERE

Humane Society article about the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus HERE

ASPCA article about the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus HERE

Link to Colorado Voters for Animals website HERE