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.