The nation’s largest anti-hunting group has ponied up more than $600,000 in funds to support their picks among ballot measures and political candidates this year.
In the top race, the group endorses former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for President and has released ads attacking Republican hopeful Donald Trump.
“A Trump presidency would be a threat to animals everywhere,” declares one ad, showing images of his sons big game hunting. “They are trophy hunters of elephants and rare species. Don Jr. is floated to be interior secretary.”
Humane Society Legislative Fund President Michael Markarian held up Clinton’s campaign promises to combat international wildlife trafficking and promoting animal welfare while slamming Trump’s track record on animals in an announcement of the group’s endorsement.
“The next president will have an enormous impact over animal protection in this country for the next four to eight years, and the stakes are high with policy decisions overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Institutes of Health, and other executive agencies,” said Markarian earlier this month.
Though avowedly a nonpartisan organization, the group has in the past campaigned against the use of traditional ammunition on public lands, pressured airlines to stop flying legally taken trophies back from overseas and attacked bear hunting in Florida and Maine while being criticized in turn by gun rights groups for doing little to help pet shelters.
As part of their official endorsements for 2016, the Humane Society, in addition to their approval of Clinton, is backing most of the Democrat incumbents in the U.S. House and Senate. The few Republicans given a nod on the list, e.g. New York’s Peter King and Dan Donovan, are generally vote in favor of gun control and against sportsmen’s bills. A few notable exceptions to this are Illinois’ Peter Roskam, New Jersey’s Leonard Lance and Arizona’s Martha McSally, with the trio of GOP members also being endorsed by the National Rifle Association in their respective races with “A” ratings.
California’s Jeff Denham, another NRA “A” rated Republican, has not only HSUS’s endorsement but also $13,000 of their cash — the top recipient of the 100 congressional candidates that the anti-hunting group has contributed to this election cycle according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In all, the group has kicked in $331,500 this year, about two-thirds of which went to incumbent Democratics including $10,000 each to gun control champion U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Russ Feingold and Earl Blumenauer.
In ballot initiatives, the HSUS is the chief financial backer of a referendum in Oregon — Measure 100 — banning the sale and possession of certain animal parts. The push is based on neighboring Washington’s Initiative No. 1401, which won by a 71 percent landslide in that state in 2014. Pro-hunting groups now as then oppose the measure, saying it would likely do little to protect endangered species while otherwise law-abiding gun owners in turn could be criminalized if they sell a vintage item, say a handgun with old ivory grips.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, the group has contributed nearly $300,000 to Save Endangered Animals Oregon, the front group for the Yes on 100 campaign. It is their largest single political expenditure this cycle.
California joined Washington and enacted a similar law in 2015 to which HSUS has stated, “If Oregon voters approve this initiative petition, we will have produced a firewall against wildlife trafficking in key West Coast states.”
The Humane Society has also been vocally against right to hunt and fish voter initiatives in Kansas and Indiana on the upcoming ballot.