When Trump's EPA pick Scott Pruitt stood up for the little guy
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Opponents of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt attempted to caricature him at his nomination hearing Wednesday to be EPA Administrator. Pruitt, they argued, was in the pocket of industry and doing its bidding. What’s he ever done to help the little guy?

One situation shows how Pruitt has not only stuck up for the citizens of Oklahoma, he’s also stuck up for its four-legged residents.

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There’s far too much charity waste and fraud in the United States, and state regulators can be too hands-off.

 

A Tampa Bay Times report on the 100 worst charities indicates that charity waste reaches the billion-dollar level every year. And there are unfortunately constant reports of charities misusing donor money, including veterans charities that spend most of their money on fundraising and almost nothing on vets.

It’s easy for an elected official to put their head in the sand. Far rarer is the one who will take a stand.

In March 2014, Pruitt issued a public alert to national animal charities including the Humane Society of the United States. His stated concern was:

"Such groups are giving Oklahomans the impression their donations are assisting Oklahoma animal shelters, when in fact the donations of Oklahomans may go toward unrelated efforts like lobbying in other states or at the federal level.”

Further, Pruitt “encouraged Oklahomans to give directly to state-based causes and organizations.”

He was correct. My organization’s public polling has found that two-thirds of the public doesn’t know the Humane Society of the United States is not affiliated with humane societies that operate pet shelters at the local level.

Some local humane societies have changed their name because the confusion is harmful to their brand and fundraising. 

And the confusion is expensive. HSUS has run commercials and direct mail campaigns full of dogs and cats—even though it does not run a single pet shelter anywhere. Only about 1 percent of the money raised by HSUS was given to local pet shelters, according to the group’s tax returns.

Worse, our review of HSUS ads found that many of these ads didn’t even contain a disclaimer that HSUS is independent from local shelters. Those that had a disclaimer needed a high-powered magnifying glass.

It’s a classic bait and switch. Show dogs and cats — because Americans love pets — and rake in the money. Then spend the money on other things, such as a PETA-like animal liberation agenda. HSUS advocates to shut down all meat, dairy, and egg producers.

It spent millions last year promoting a law in Massachusetts that will increase the cost (and depress sales) of eggs and pork in the state by 2022. That’s a far cry from saving pets.

After issuing his public alert, Pruitt announced he was opening an inquiry into HSUS’s fundraising and issuing investigative civil demands to the organization. HSUS fought him in court over its refusal to hand over some documents Pruitt requested.

Predictably, HSUS claims Pruitt’s investigation of his organization was a witch hunt. But HSUS is no victim. The real victims are the donors who think they’re helping local pet shelters when they give to HSUS.

Pruitt simply had the guts to take a stand in favor of citizens and animal shelters of his state. It’s something many politicians are afraid to do. That’s the kind of character trait that we should want in government. As for HSUS, one can only hope more attorney generals follow Pruitt’s lead.

Will Coggin is Research Director at the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices.


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