Wayne Pacelle is back. The former president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) who was forced to resign in February over sexual harassment allegations, is working for a friend’s PAC (political action committee) lobby for animal welfare issues on Capitol Hill. Despite efforts to keep a low-profile, Pacelle’s re-emergence with the PAC Animal Wellness Action has stirred friction with HSUS.
According to Politico, legal action is under consideration by HSUS because Pacelle had a non-compete clause in his contract. A memo obtained by Politico says, “The board leadership is aware of the situation and will be considering our options.”
Animal Wellness Action was registered in May by David Harvilicz, a lawyer and entrepreneur. Politico reported the new PAC already had deep ties with HSUS as Marty Irby, a former HSUS executive who oversaw its rural equine protect ion and rural outreach departments, is now Animal Wellness Action’s executive director.
Pacelle’s resignation came after an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct by three HSUS employees. Days before stepping down, Pacelle told The Washington Post, “I absolutely deny any suggestion that I did anything untoward.”
A meeting of the HSUS board of directors prior to Pacelle’s resignation resulted in a vote to retain his services. Immediately after that vote, seven board members resigned in protest. The move to keep Pacelle also defied demands by several major donors to cut ties with the longtime executive, or risk losing their financial and cooperative support.
Soon thereafter, Pacelle was out, replaced by current acting president and CEO Kitty Block, a lawyer who has been with HSUS since 1992.