Karner Blue Capital
Karner Blue is an investment firm founded by Vicki Benjamin after her former firm, Calvert Investments, paid a $22 million SEC settlement for misuse of funds. The firm was co-founded by Andrew Niebler and Wayne Pacelle, disgraced former CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Karner Blue pushes veganism and animal liberation advocacy through investing. KBC’s website states that it plans to promote and invest in companies that adhere to KBC’s own guidelines on animal welfare.
Unlike other funds that may choose to invest only in vegan companies, Karner Blue invests in companies that use animals to advocate for change. Karner Blue’s investments include Chipotle and H&M, for instance, because both have made statements or policies friendly to animal activists.
The organization has already made several investments in companies with the expressed goal of filing shareholder resolutions as soon as the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines are met.
The Karner Blue Web
Karner Blue Capital is one piece of a larger organizational structure. There is also the Karner Blue Center for a Humane Economy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The Center is run by Pacelle. The Center lavishes praise on companies that it claims are operating ethically. One of these is JUST, a California food startup co-founded by one of Pacelle’s former colleagues. JUST has seen its share of controversy after it was caught buying up its own product to spur sales, faced allegations of a hostile work environment, and had most of its board of directors resign.
Karner Blue is also affiliated with Animal Wellness Action, a political advocacy group that Pacelle founded in 2018 after his #MeToo-related resignation. AWA is a 501(c)(4) organization that is affiliated with Animal Wellness Foundation and Animal Wellness Action PAC. FEC records show AWA and its PAC’s political activity are solidly left-wing.
The amount of assets under management of Karner Blue is unknown; however, news reports establish that the fund raised $750,000 in April 2019.
Wayne Pacelle is a controversial figure, having joined Karner Blue after his resignation as CEO of the Humane Society of the United States following sexual harassment allegations. Karner Blue defended bringing Pacelle on board, misleadingly stating: “Wayne had a 24-year unblemished run at the organization, and in the end, he was fully supported by his board and decided to step down voluntarily. Nevertheless, there was controversy. We at Karner Blue carefully considered it, and have total confidence in him.”
In fact, Pacelle was not “fully supported” by his board of directors–seven members resigned after a majority of the HSUS board voted to close an internal investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against him. Nor has Pacelle apologized, instead dismissing his accusers as being part of a conspiracy to attack him. This wasn’t lost on his successor at HSUS, who has slammed Pacelle’s lack of penance: “[A]s far as we know, Pacelle has not atoned at all. Society gets into trouble when we welcome individuals back into the fold when they have not owned up to their misdeeds or otherwise attempted to address the harm they caused.”
Apparently that concern isn’t shared by Karner Blue.