Jennifer Fearing is the California state director for The Humane Society of the United States. She is very well educated, having received a master's degree in public policy from Harvard and a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from the University of California, Davis. She serves as a lobbyist for HSUS and has an impressive résumé, with years of experience in her field. She's a busy woman.
As governor of California, Jerry Brown is the state's highest-ranking elected official. Obviously, he has a very long list of duties and obligations to fulfill. He signs bills into law. He's a busy man. As such, one might assume that he has precious little time for the necessary, but pedestrian task of walking his corgi, "Sutter Brown." And, that assumption would be correct. Not to worry, though, because Jennifer Fearing does have time--or, more precisely, has made time--to regularly perform this doggie-duty for the presumably grateful governor. Furthermore, she does so for “free.”
The cozy arrangement--combined with the fact that, during this year's legislative session, Fearing has managed the enviable feat of getting six-out-of-six bills signed by the governor, including a bill to outlaw lead ammunition for hunting--has many wondering if "the tail is wagging the dog."
As reported in a recent Washington Times article, critics say Fearing may be breaking the rules because she has not reported the dog walking as an in-kind contribution. California civil rights attorney Chuck Michel said of the situation, “For someone who did not hesitate to take the moral high ground in denigrating the ethical standards of hunters during the campaign to ban lead ammunition, it is disappointing to see that Jennifer Fearing does not hold herself to those same ethical standards in properly disclosing her relationship with the governor.”
For her part, Fearing remains dismissive regarding those questioning her ethics, defiantly claiming that her critics are "clearly overestimating the value" of her dog-walking duties.
"I wouldn't misuse that relationship," she said. "I deal with staff, and I go through the right channels. I would like to believe that we live in a civilized society where you can do neighborly things like walking people's dogs."
Would Fearing really take time out of her busy schedule to serve as the Governor’s "free" dog walker just because she wants to be neighborly?. Walking the dog gives Fearing access to the Governor and, to some degree, puts him in her debt. That's an unfair advantage, and it's hypocritical of Fearing to suggest otherwise--even if she does so with a straight face. We think the arrangement, and Fearing’s attempts to cast it in non-political terms, smells like what she’s picking up after Sutter Brown.