- - Monday, April 3, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Imagine if Planned Parenthood launched a rebranding campaign to get conservatives to support its mission. “We’re all for limited government — we want the government out of private lives,” the group pleads in this fictional scenario.

Anyone with an IQ above Forrest Gump’s would understand this as meaningless sycophancy by a group that would throw conservative agendas under the bus at their earliest future convenience. Yet just such a campaign is about to be launched by the Humane Society of the United States. It is debuting a “Conservative Advisory Council” to sweet-talk right-leaning individuals to support its vegan-animal liberation agenda.

It’s the classic case of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), not related to local animal shelters with similar names, has the same goals as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): Get rid of meat, cheese, ice cream, circuses, zoos, aquariums, pet stores, hunting and basically any other way animals are used commercially or institutionally. The CEO of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, has said, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.”

HSUS’ political arms have spent $4.6 million (80 percent of its PAC money) trying to defeat Republican candidates. They endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. They just endorsed liberal state Sen. Raymond Lesniak for the New Jersey 2017 gubernatorial race. The voluntary board of HSUS shows a decided bias toward Democrats in its political giving. Mr. Pacelle once ran for office as a Green Party candidate.

Need to know more? Legislatively, HSUS wants the government to tell you what you can and can’t buy at the supermarket. The group has spent millions lobbying for ballot measures banning the sale of conventionally raised eggs and pork products. HSUS lobbies to ban pet stores from selling cats and dogs even if the animal comes from any pedigree dog breeder. HSUS lobbies against hunting and for bans on the use of common ammunition in hunting; it opposed allowing concealed carry in national parks on the comical grounds that letting people carry handguns for protection would increase poaching.

In short, HSUS has declared war on Middle America just as Barack Obama did with his environmental agenda. But instead of going after coal miners in West Virginia and Kentucky, HSUS is going after farmers, ranchers, dog breeders, rodeos, circuses, small businesses, and anyone from Ohio to Texas to Montana who eats bacon.

Despite its apparent appeal to conservatives, HSUS doesn’t care one whit about the Constitution, liberty, limited government or other conservative values. It is pals with the institutional left, with Mr. Pacelle acknowledging, “We would be foolish not to unite with people in the environmental community, and [labor] unions.”

HSUS is holding an Earth Day fundraiser in Hollywood to raise money for its anti-animal agriculture campaign. Liberal Obama wannabe Sen. Cory Booker will receive an award. Every fall, HSUS hobnobs with New York City’s elite, from Michael Bloomberg’s daughter to the state’s liberal attorney general. San Francisco, Palm Beach and the Hamptons are also in the mix.

It’s no different from other left-wing activist groups. They hit up wealthy urban liberals. They then spend the money trying to kill the livelihoods and upset the lives of the rest of us.

So what’s the disingenuous pitch that HSUS is giving conservatives?

Recently, it’s been that it’s pro-free market. Nonsense. The free market is one in which people can choose to buy fur coats or faux. Choose to buy regular eggs or cage-free. Choose to buy a dog from a pet store or adopt from a shelter. Choose to buy a real hamburger or a processed soy “burger.” Yet HSUS is spending millions lobbying to restrict consumer choice and businesses.

HSUS also talks about things that are noncontroversial — say, a bill on animal fighting — and leaves out its radical beliefs. “Everyone believes in animal welfare, so join us,” HSUS will say. Yes, everyone does believe in animal welfare — but doesn’t mean they’re onboard with most of HSUS’s beliefs.

A few thought leaders on the right have been attracted by philosophical arguments about animals, while apparently not (yet) understanding that HSUS is locked at the hip with the radical PETA loonies. But as usual, there are a few Benedict Arnolds promoting HSUS who really ought to know better. One is GOP fundraiser Lisa Spies. Another is supposedly conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, whose son is on the HSUS payroll.

The bottom line is the Humane Society of the United States has as much in common with conservatives as PETA, Greenpeace or Emily’s List do. Shame on any free-market conservative who thinks otherwise.

• Richard Berman is the president of Berman and Company, a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.

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