Who is Marty Irby?

Marty Irby is a DC lobbyist who claims to be a conservative despite spending six years at liberal advocacy groups that attack hunters and farmers and work to elect Democrats. Irby formed his lobbying firm, Capitol South, after being “forced out” of FreedomWorks in May 2023, lasting only 9 weeks on the job, after his work for liberals was publicly exposed.

Read the Politico story on Irby’s ouster from FreedomWorks

Irby’s History of Helping Liberals

Irby worked for Animal Wellness Action and Humane Society Legislative Fund, the lobbying arm of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HSUS is run by a former PETA lawyer, while Animal Wellness Action is run by an animal liberation fanatic who has said “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” (HSUS is not affiliated with local humane societies.)

HSLF and AWA have worked to elect liberals. This includes:

  • Endorsing Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden (HSLF);
  • Spending more than $4.7 million collectively to defeat Republicans and elect Democrats from the 2016 cycle to present, according to OpenSecrets.

Irby himself donated to support Democrat Phil Bredesen’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2018 against Republican Martha Blackburn, according to campaign finance records.

Irby not only has worked to elect liberals, he’s praised them while attacking Republicans.

“We’re so grateful for [Sen. Cory Booker’s] amazing work for animals. He’s the best friend they have in the U.S. Senate,” Irby tweeted. Booker is a liberal vegan who has introduced legislation to ban large-scale family farms. Irby was tweeting in support of a California law banning the sale of eggs and pork at grocery stores if they were produced under standard animal husbandry practices.

Meanwhile, Irby called Sen. Ron Johnson a “whacko."

Picture tweeted by Irby on Dec. 31, 2020

Irby’s Work Undermines Conservative Principles

Conservatives believe in personal liberty and smaller government. Compare that to the radical animal rights agenda pushed by Irby’s groups, which imposes big government policies and takes away choices.

Irby’s groups have advocated to: 

The ultimate goal of animal liberation groups is to force veganism on everyone. Eating farm-raised meat, eggs, or dairy products would be phased out and prohibited. Natural fibers such as leather and wool would be banned. Zoos and aquariums would be shut down. Often, they seek incremental gains by passing laws that raise the cost of hunting, eating meat, or other activities that they can’t ban outright. Ultimately, animal liberation is about controlling people; it is antithetical to freedom and limited government. 

Irby’s Close Ties to Accused Sexual Harasser

Marty Irby has close ties to accused sexual harasser Wayne Pacelle. In early 2018, multiple women accused Pacelle of harassment (and worse) going back years while he was at the Humane Society of the United States. 

Allegations against Pacelle include “a former employee who said [Pacelle] asked to masturbate in front of her and offered her oral sex in a hotel room.” Another accuser said Pacelle did worse to her. Reported The New York Times: “On more than one occasion after 2010, she said, Mr. Pacelle summoned her to his office and pressured her for sex. She said she refused and once tried to placate him with a hug. After hugging her goodbye, he turned her around, pushed her over his desk and rubbed his genitals against her, she said.”

Pacelle was ousted from his role as CEO of HSUS. Within a few months, Pacelle quietly formed a new lobbying group, Animal Wellness Action, with Irby at the helm as its executive director. Irby also served as an executive with a second nonprofit Pacelle set up called the Center for a Humane Economy. 

Why would Marty Irby follow an accused sexual harasser and help rehabilitate his image?

Checkered Past and Ethics Scandal

From 2010-2012, Marty Irby was president of a Tennessee Walking Horse industry group. But Irby was reportedly pushed out of the industry's show over an Internet domain dispute. After this, Irby began supporting federal legislation to attack the industry he used to show horses for and went to work for a sponsor of the legislation.

Beginning the next year, Irby worked as an aide and press secretary to Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), where he spent half his time pushing this legislation. Whitfield’s wife was a staff lobbyist for HSLF advocating for this same legislation–and her co-mingling of lobbying activities and Whitfield’s Congressional office was the subject of ethics scrutiny

In 2016, the House Ethics Committee found that Rep. Whitfield violated ethics rules while Irby was his staffer by giving his wife inappropriate access to his office and “special privileges” as she pushed legislation. “The Committee finds that Representative Ed Whitfield failed to prohibit lobbying contacts between his staff and his wife, Constance Harriman, and dispensed special privileges to Ms. Harriman,” its report states. Emails released in the investigation show Irby, then a Whitfield staffer, working closely with his lobbyist wife. 

Whitfield retired after the ethics report was released, and Irby jumped to work with Whitfield’s wife lobbying at HSLF. 

Irby’s PAC Funded by Animal Liberation Extremists

In 2023, Irby founded Competitive Markets PAC–supposedly a group that will advocate for family farms. There’s just one small catch: It’s actually funded by animal liberation extremists who want to destroy family farms that raise livestock.

According to federal records, Competitive Markets PAC received its first donation from Josh Balk, a longtime animal liberation activist. In 2022, Balk co-founded a group that harasses food companies along with an animal rights activist who has compared farmers to Nazis and chickens to Holocaust victims. Balk previously was an executive with the deceptively named anti-meat Humane Society of the United States (not affiliated with local humane societies that care for pets).

Competitive Markets PAC has taken in more than $60,000–about 90% of its funding as of this writing–from animal activists. Other funders include board members of the vegan advocacy group The Humane League.