A staffer at a consulting firm known nationally for its work on behalf of a number of conservative, often antigay, politicians and initiatives, has purported to have a client list that includes a number of animal-advocacy groups, including one in the Philadelphia area — a connection the animal group denies and that has since been removed from the firm’s website.
Campaign Solutions has worked on campaigns for Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, and the Virginia-based organization also helped promote Yes on 8, the successful California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.
As of earlier this month, the biography of Campaign Solutions employee Anthony Bellotti on the organization’s website described Bellotti as a 2000 graduate of University of Pennsylvania and an animal advocate whose “animal-protection clients” include Animal Protection of New Mexico, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and The American Anti-Vivisection Society, a Jenkintown-based organization that is the nation’s first nonprofit animal-advocacy group dedicated to ending animal experimentation.
The profile also stated that Bellotti “quarterbacked the highly regarded online campaign” of Yes on 8 and managed online advertising and fundraising campaigns for Maine’s Yes on Question 1, which also banned same-sex marriage, and the antigay National Organization for Marriage.
Blogger Peter Heimlich wrote about the seeming disconnect between support for animal rights and for restricting LGBT rights on his blog, The Sidebar (http://www.the-sidebar.com/2011/10/caught-fibbing-top-anti-gay-campaign.html).
“On their website, Campaign Solutions proudly claimed to represent organizations dedicated to improving the lives of our four-footed friends, meanwhile cooking up high-profile political campaigns to restrict the civil rights of human beings because they’re gay,” he said.
The day after he posted his story, APNM was removed from Bellotti’s profile.
“After I reported the story on my blog, client names and other information started vanishing from their website,” Heimlich said. “When I asked company president Becki Donatelli if she or Anthony Bellotti wanted to explain, she politely declined.”
Sue Leary, president of AAVS, told PGN her organization accepted free advice from a contributor, who works for Campaign Solutions, but said her agency is not currently and never was a client of Bellotti’s or Campaign Solutions.
Donatelli did not respond to a request for comment last week from PGN.
Last weekend, however, all mention of the animal-advocacy groups, as well as the antigay agencies, were removed from Bellotti’s profile.
Leary said her organization did not ask for its name to be removed. PCRM did not respond to a request for comment.
Jasmin Singer, executive director of animal-advocacy agency Our Hen House and an LGBT activist, said that, while animal advocates span all political ideologies, to her, LGBT and animal rights are naturally connected.
“In my mind, support for animal rights and LGBT rights logically and obviously go together,” she said. “Both are based in othering — in justifying exploitation or discrimination based on irrelevant differences. It seems completely clear to me.”