HSUS SUFFERS LATEST IN SERIES OF MISSTEPS IN OKLAHOMA
The Oklahoma Ethics Commission handed out fines to lobbyists and “legislative liaisons” in January of 2016 for late filings of July-December 2015 reports. Among those names was Cynthia Armstrong, the Oklahoma Director for Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), who was met with a $1,000 fine for being 7 or more days late. For HSUS, this is yet another mistake in a string of bad moves in the state of Oklahoma. News such as this is detrimental to HSUS’s already-deteriorating reputation among a majority of citizens in Oklahoma. The animal rights juggernaut is attempting to sell voters on the idea that amending their state constitution to protect farmers, ranchers, and consumers is somehow a bad thing for them. In 2014, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a Civil Investigative Demand seeking to obtain documents relating to the group’s fundraising efforts to help displaced animals in the state following the 2013 Moore tornadoes. A review done by his office supposedly found little-to-no funds HSUS raised actually went to this purpose. In order to avoid handing over their documents to Pruitt’s office, HSUS sued him. This worked in their favor, as a judge ruled that they would be allowed to withhold 21 documents from Pruitt, while only having to turn over all or part of 3 documents. This suit cost Oklahoma taxpayers money, and did little to help the group’s standing in the state. In response to those events, Oklahoma State Representative Brian Renegar introduced House Bill 2250, which would ban animal rights organizations from fundraising in the state unless that money went towards in-state programs, a move seemingly directed at HSUS. From News 9 in Oklahoma:
“He claimed the Humane Society of the United States or HSUS took advantage of the many Oklahomans concerned for lost or injured pets, raised more than a million dollars here, and only about $100,000 was actually used in our state.”
Cynthia Armstrong, the aforementioned director in Oklahoma in trouble with the Ethics Commission, claims that HSUS has done nothing wrong. In November, Oklahomans will cast their ballots on State Question 777, the Right to Farm Amendment. The language of the amendment specifically states:
“To protect agriculture as a vital sector of Oklahoma’s economy, which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security and is the foundation and stabilizing force of Oklahoma’s economy, the rights of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. The Legislature shall pass no law which abridges the right of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma to employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest. Nothing in this section shall be construed to modify any provision of common law or statutes relating to trespass, eminent domain, dominance of mineral interests, easements, rights of way or any other property rights. Nothing in this section shall be construed to modify or affect any statute or ordinance enacted by the Legislature or any political subdivision prior to December 31, 2014.”
The bill was first introduced by State Representative Scott Biggs as a preemptive effort to protect against overregulation from Washington D.C. bureaucrats and out-of-state special interest groups such as HSUS who wish to pursue legislation in states with which they have no right. With the State Question 777 vote coming later this year, HSUS has announced its opposition. Their front group, Oklahoma Stewardship Council, is led by Drew Edmondson - former Oklahoma Attorney General. He is also the man who led the suit against current AG Scott Pruitt. The group also includes members of HSUS’s handpicked Oklahoma Ag Council, whose legitimacy can be called into question based on their potential to appeal to rural communities in order to make sweeping changes once they’ve won support. In November, Oklahoma voters will have to choose between this group with a troubling history in the state, or groups such as Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Pork Council, American Farmers and Ranchers, and Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council - who are looking to embrace technology in order to figure out the safest, most efficient ways to feed Oklahoma’s population. You can learn more about State Question 777 and its potential impact on Oklahoma at OklahomaRighttoFarm.com.