Last Chance for Animals says that it is dedicated to ending the exploitation of animals.
The exploitation of women? Not so much, it seems.
Otherwise, why would the Los Angeles-based animal advocacy group honor Erika Brunson with an “Albert Schweitzer Award” at its annual benefit gala?
Those who have paid attention to the #metoo problem in the animal rights movement will remember Brunson. An 80-something interior designer whose clients are said to include members of the Saudi Arabian royal family, Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrities, Brunson served on the board of the Humane Society of the US where she steadfastly and unapologetically stood by Wayne Pacelle, its former CEO, even as he faced multiple, credible allegations of sexual harassment.
When Rachel Perman, who oversees charitable giving at Tofurky, asked HSUS’s board to investigate the complaints against Pacelle, Brunson responded to her in an email saying: “Are you out of your mind? Don’t you have anything better to do in life, than air your repressed sexual fantasies in public?”
Subsequently, Brunson told POLITICO: “This country is crazy. … It’s like this lynch-burning hysteria.” ** She suggested that women needed to “get tougher, don’t go around whining, saying you’ve been sexually harassed.”
Later, Brunson defended the HSUS board’s decision to keep Pacelle on the job in an interview with The New York Times. “Which red-blooded male hasn’t sexually harassed somebody?” she was quoted as saying. “Women should be able to take care of themselves.”
Say this about Brunson: She’s consistent.
Brunson is a longtime donor to animal advocacy groups. Money talks. Maybe Last Chance for Animals hopes that she’ll bring some of her Saudi clients to the gala, where tables sell for as much as $50,000.
But honoring her with an award, at this moment, sends a terrible message to the women as well as men in the movement.
Emails and phone messages left with Last Chance for Animals were not returned. The group was founded in 1984 by Chris DeRose, an actor, who remains its chief executive. It’s a small organization, with less than $2m in annual revenues, according to its latest IRS tax return. Past supporters include Pamela Anderson, Ben Stiller, Courtney Cox and Kathy Freston, according to Look to the Stars.
** Lynch-burning hysteria?