American Humane Assn. board Chairman Eric Bruner resigns

HBO canceled its racetrack drama "Luck" in the wake of three horse deaths. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had criticized the role of the American Humane Assn. in the production. (Gusman Cesaretti / HBA)






By Richard Verrier – Los Angeles Times – January 9, 2013

HBO canceled its racetrack drama "Luck" in the wake of three horse deaths. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had criticized the role of the American Humane Assn. in the production. (Gusman Cesaretti / HBA)

HBO canceled its racetrack drama “Luck” in the wake of three horse deaths. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had criticized the role of the American Humane Assn. in the production. (Gusman Cesaretti / HBA)

Eric Bruner, the controversial chairman of the American Humane Assn., has resigned from the board of the the century-old charity charged with overseeing the welfare of animals on film sets.

“Mr. Bruner is no longer serving on the board, and we thank him for his six years of service,” the AHA said in a statement Wednesday.

The AHA statement did not specify the reasons for Bruner’s departure and comes three months after a report in the Los Angeles Times raised questions about financial ties between the AHA and Bruner’s business partner.

The AHA paid $233,863 to Bruner’s business partner, Gregory Dew, to provide unspecified consulting services to the nonprofit organization, making him the highest paid “independent contractor” for the AHA in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, according to a document the charity filed with the IRS.

Dew was Bruner’s business partner in Spectrum Consulting Group, a management consulting firm in Austin, Texas.

Records showed another board member also had ties to Spectrum. Former interim AHA Chief Executive George Casey had been managing partner and consulting principal in Spectrum since 2009, according to his LinkedIn site. He was paid $277,102 by the AHA during the same period the charity compensated Dew for his services.

In an interview last fall, Bruner said the board tapped Casey and Dew because of their expertise to assist the charity during a period of financial uncertainty. The AHA also said it fully disclosed the payments in a tax filing and followed its policy for handling conflicts of interest.

Mabel McKinney Browning has been named interim chair of the AHA board, which has been criticized by some curent and former staff members for ignoring the mistreatment of animals on sets. The AHA has disputed those claims.




AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
4 Comments
  • BlessUsAll

    That’s good news indeed.

    I hope it’s indicative of a complete change of heart and direction, and is not just a Bandaid that masks more serious ethical problems than just financial misdeeds.

    Between these conflicts of interest and the animal deaths in “Luck” and “The Hobbit,” AHA has plenty of major reforming to do.

    I hope management gets the message loud and clear that it MUST find ways to make decisions independent of the production companies, movie studios, and TV stations it purportedly watches.

    Is it time for AHA to either be funded by a mix of private and public sources or remove itself from the role of animals-in-entertainment watchdog?

    Interesting times are ahead. Going forward, may no more animals suffer at the hands of their “protector.” A true protector is unbiased, defends the animals above everyone else, and is beholden to no one.

    January 11, 2013
  • I am in total agreement, BlessUsAll. I was distressed from news in TV and Movies concerning the death of horses and other animals, and have come to have no trust in those “no animal was harmed” quotes at the end of films when we know that 27 animals died while “acting” (though I believe the injuries and deaths happened where the animals were housed) during the making of the The Hobbit.
    Things should improve, or another independent group should take over.. And 200K+ unacceptable.

    January 11, 2013
  • Karen

    AHA should remove itself – I have questioned the ethics of this org. for many years. Thanks to LA Times for revealing the corruption. Money always rules when it comes to the unfortunate creatures who end up in the entertainment industry. Producers and directors need to take responsibility for their human and animal actors safety.

    January 12, 2013
  • Bob

    The longest journey begins with the first step! Let us continue to encourage change that will benefit all of God’s creations. Let’s hope and pray that the AHA will continue their journey on a peaceful and humane path.
    We watched a movie that, in addition to the humans, actually bave the name the cat that was part of the cast. Perhaps if the horses in movies were listed by name in the credits it would bring more attention to the cause. The AHA could encourage this. Just a thought.

    January 16, 2013