KENTUCKY REPRESENTATIVE AND HSUS-BACKED LEGISLATOR ED WHITFIELD TO STEP DOWN AFTER TERM ENDS
On Tuesday afternoon, Kentucky Representative Ed Whitfield announced in a press release that he would not be seeking a 12th term in Congress following the end of his term in January 2017.
The reason we are interested in this story is that Rep. Whitfield, a man who switched to the Republican party in 1994 in order to run for Congress, is not exactly the strongest supporter of agriculture given his beneficial relationship with the animal rights industry. During his runs for re-election, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) donated money to Whitfield’s campaign.
This is especially troubling because his wife Constance Whitfield has been a lobbyist since 2011 for the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), a specific fund comprised of donor dollars (given under the assumption they would be used to directly help animals in need) that is used to fund its legislative agenda and is circulated to handpicked candidates from around the country where HSUS seeks to pass favorable legislation.
The Office of Congressional Ethics looked into the relationship between Ed Whitfield’s wife’s work and his office, and found that “as many as 100 meetings” may have been set up by him to promote HSLF legislative issues. One issue in particular was legislation that Whitfield introduced to stop the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, a clear action against the horse industry as a whole.
The ongoing ethics probe by the House Ethics Committee involves a comprehensive look at these meetings and if they are related to any legislation supported or opposed by Whitfield. In a joint statement released back in March, Ethics Committee members had this to say on the matter:
“(The panel will look into whether Whitfield) violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other applicable standard of conduct in the performance of his duties or the discharge of his responsibilities, with respect to allegations that he failed to prohibit lobbying contacts between his staff and his wife, improperly used his official position for the beneficial interest of himself or his wife, and dispensed special favors or privileges to either his wife, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, or the Humane Society of the United States.”Rep. Whitfield vehemently denies these allegations, claiming that they are “absurd” and “politically motivated”. He also has received public support from HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, which is unsurprising given that they are so directly involved in his demise.
It is unfortunate that a man’s career in Congress is ending, but when that man hitches his wagon to a corrupt organization such as HSUS, he is inviting any scorn, scrutiny, or repercussions that come along with that relationship.
Perhaps this will serve as a lesson to others in Congress to not follow suit.