Merger Adds to Humane Society's Bite

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, September 7, 2006

One would think that a membership roster of 9.5 million would make a special interest group quite special on Capitol Hill, but the Humane Society of the United States wants more firepower.

The Humane Society recently merged with the Doris Day Animal League, the 180,000-member animal advocacy group founded by the actress. This follows the society's merger last year with Fund for Animals.

DDAL executive director Holly Hazard becomes chief innovation officer at the society, and legislative director Sara Amundson becomes executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, its legislative arm.

"I think our goal is to accumulate greater strength so we can be more effective. We want to show policy leaders and lawmakers we're a formidable entity," said Wayne Pacelle , chief executive of the Humane Society.

The society's 2006 budget is $103 million, more than double its 1996 budget, Pacelle said. (Revenue in 2005 was $145 million, which he attributed to a surge in contributions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.)

The animal welfare group plans to devote more resources to its legislative fund, and the fund's board is expected to vote this week to get involved in the November elections. "I don't think you can offer a real prospect of reform without that capability" of getting involved in candidate elections, Pacelle said. "Logic and reason go only so far in this town. You have to flex political muscle."

The society has been particularly busy lately flexing whatever legal muscle it has lobbying for legislation, on the House floor today, to ban the slaughter of horses for consumption abroad. On the other side of this heavily lobbied measure, are three slaughter plants and the Horse Welfare Coalition, which includes numerous horse and livestock associations, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Meat Institute, feed groups and state farm bureaus.

The industry's lobbyist is former House member Charles Stenholm , a Texan who was the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, and the law firm he works for, Olsson, Frank and Weeda . Stenholm said the Olsson Frank team includes John W. Bode , a USDA official in the Reagan and Bush I administrations; John Block , former agriculture secretary in the Reagan administration; Brent Gattis , a former staffer for House Agriculture; and Sally Donner , a longtime representative of Altria and General Foods Corp.

"I've been burning up the telephone lines," Stenholm said yesterday. He said the Humane Society has been "a very frustrating adversary," adding, "They've got a lot of money and enthusiastic supporters."

Verdery Parts Ways With Mehlman Vogel

After leaving the administration in March 2005, when he was assistant secretary for homeland security, C. Stewart Verdery Jr. joined the Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti lobby shop. It seemed a good fit. Verdery, who had worked for then-Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), joined a team that included Bruce Mehlman , former general counsel of the House Republican Conference; Alex Vogel , former chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.); and David Castagnetti , who directed congressional operations for Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign.

Verdery left the lobby shop recently and launched his own boutique, the Monument Policy Group . His book of clients, most of whom came with him from Mehlman Vogel, already includes the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Cross Match Technologies, the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, IBM, the Travel Industry Association of America and XM Satellite Radio.

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