April 6, 2010; NBC Connecticut | Under scrutiny from the state attorney general, The Connecticut Humane Society is instituting changes that watchdogs hope will lead to better treatment of animals as well as care of its donors. Following up on its recent investigation of the animal care group, NBC Connecticut reports that the board is revising its conflict of interest policy to prevent the charity from awarding no-bid contracts to directors.
The NBC investigation, which led Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to step in, found that companies with ties to board members or key employees were awarded more than $570,000 in business from 2006 to 2008. Despite promises to change its bidding process, in a letter from the board, the charity claimed that all contracts were “at or below fair market value.” The letter also said, “Several Board members remarked that they were genuinely proud that they were able to save the Society so many donated dollars by providing goods and services at or below cost.”
The group also calls charges of fiscal misconduct “unfounded.” The NBC affiliate notes that the attorney general is also urging the charity to put more of its donated funds toward animal care. In his report, Blumenthal said the group’s $52 million fund balance is “unnecessary and excessive.” Without making any specific commitments, the Humane Society chapter said it “would continue to examine all aspects of the organization with an eye to improving systems, management, and of course, animal care.”
Not everyone, though, is satisfied. A spokesperson for the Coalition for Change, said in an email statement, that additional steps are needed “to unify and motivate all workers and volunteers who have been forgotten and disillusioned over time.”—Bruce Trachtenberg