The political arm of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is devoting a significant portion of its campaign budget this year to the District 4 congressional race in northwest Iowa.
That race pits Congressman Steve King—a frequent critic of HSUS—against Christie Vilsack, wife of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
HSUS is running TV ads that criticize King for his opposition to bills related to dogfighting and other pet protection proposals. But the HSUS ads don’t mention the battles they’ve had with King on agricultural issues, which King says is the real reason he’s being attacked.
“They’re attacking me because I have stepped up to defend the feed grain production and the livestock production that we have here,” King says, “and so they create other issues to divert the attention of the voters.
“But the truth is, if you let them have their way—and, of course, Christie Vilsack is supported by them, so you have to believe that she supports their agenda—they’re anti-meat and, by the way, they’re anti-pet ownership, too.
Earlier this year, King was successful in adding an amendment to the House version of the farm bill that prohibits states from regulating the means of production of agriculture products. King claims that is what is really behind the HSUS attack ads.
Meanwhile, Christie Vilsack was asked about the HSUS advertising during a campaign event in LeMars, Iowa.
“I don’t have any control over the Humane Society—they can do what they’re going to do, just like all the other independent expenditures,” Vilsack says.
“But as far as the Humane Society, they’ll have to make their decisions on their own about where they’re going to put their money and how they’re going to advertise.”
The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) earlier tried to make a one-thousand dollar contribution to the Vilsack campaign. But campaign officials say they declined the donation, citing their policy of not accepting money from groups that lobby the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The president of the HSLF, Mark Markarian, has called King “the self-appointed leader of opposing animal welfare laws in Congress”. He says King has “one of the most extreme voting records on animal protection in the entire nation.”
Markarian refused Brownfield’s request for an interview.
Dennis Morrice, KLEM Radio, LeMars, Iowa contributed to this story.