- - Monday, August 7, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This past weekend saw the annual Animal Rights Conference take place just outside our nation’s capital. The event is a who’s who of activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Humane Society of the United States, and like-minded groups that converge to discuss tactics for getting rid of meat, ice cream, circuses, zoos, aquariums, leather belts and silk shirts.

Some of them now have their sights set on getting into favor with the Trump administration.

Heading the list is a group calling itself the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP). It’s got a fluffy cause: stopping the use of dogs in medical research. And it got Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump and an animal welfare advocate, to appear via video at a fundraising event this spring.

The BFP’s director of operations is a convicted animal-rights terrorist named Kevin Kjonaas (who now sometimes calls himself Kevin Chase). Kjonaas got a six-year sentence in federal prison for a sustained campaign terrorizing employees of a medical research company. BFP’s president, meanwhile, has also produced a propaganda film trying to boost the reputation of an FBI-designed terrorist group, the Animal Liberation Front. The FBI has estimated that the Animal Liberation Front and associated groups are behind 1,100 criminal acts causing over $100 million in damage.

If Lara Trump was aware of the history and agendas of these extremists, I’m certain she never would have engaged.

And Kjonaas (or Chase) is not the only joker in the deck. In recent weeks, the radical Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has also tried to woo Trump family members with its “pro-pet” agenda despite its CEO, Wayne Pacelle, suggesting that if he had his way, he would stop any more dogs or cats from being born.

What’s particularly ironic is that the Humane Society Legislative Fund reported spending over $200,000 attacking President Trump. In a TV ad, the Humane Society Legislative Fund also called out Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump for presenting “a frightening picture” because they have gone on safari hunts. Mr. Pacelle’s fund reported that “the risk of having a globe-trotting trophy hunter having the ear of the president should be a terrifying prospect for any animal advocate” and accused the Trump sons of conveying “the usual in-your-face arrogance of fat-cat trophy hunters who don’t seem to care much about anything but themselves.”

HSUS CEO Mr. Pacelle has also spent months railing against Senate Republicans for votes friendly to hunting or proper wildlife management. But it’s gotten them largely nowhere. Major legislative initiatives have floundered for Mr. Pacelle and HSUS on agriculture, animal research and other issues, for years. So now he’s trying to make nice with conservatives and speak the local dialect.

HSUS has also tried to make inroads with conservative fundraisers and thought leaders at the American Enterprise Institute and National Review. This year its staff attended CPAC, and it formed a “Conservative Advisory Council” and sought out Republican congressmen to sign onto its bills.

But a leopard doesn’t change its spots. The Humane Society Legislative Fund and its PAC unsurprisingly spend around 80 percent of their money supporting Democrats. Its board members donated to Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 5-to-1 margin. Its chief development officer is a former Planned Parenthood fundraiser who got caught in a James O’Keefe sting. It employs numerous PETA alumni, including one who created a campaign comparing American farms to Nazi concentration camps.

President Trump railed against the swamp of Washington despite the fact that many of its denizens are engaged in good work for society. He was right, however, that many of the self-appointed and self-righteous were in need of a bright light shined on their scams. His administration could benefit by exposing these characters as Exhibit A.

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

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