PETA Under Attack for Funding
By Jason Pierce
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
March 08, 2002
Washington (CNSNews.com) - As concerns about eco-terrorism mount on
Capitol Hill, there is more finger-pointing aimed at People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA), which admits to having provided financial support
to a group allegedly connected to the terrorism.
But while PETA acknowledges that some of its money has in the past gone to the
Earth Liberation Front (ELF), and to the legal defense funds for several Animal
Liberation Front (ALF) members, the organization denies that any of its money
"goes toward illegal activities."
The ELF and ALF are both loosely knit underground organizations that have taken
responsibility for acts of arson and vandalism at colleges, animal farms,
corporations, housing developments and even car dealerships over the past
decade. The ALF was spun off of the ELF, which uses the slogan, "If you
build it, we'll burn it."
Leading the charge against these groups is Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.),
chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.At a Thursday
conference entitled, "Stopping Eco-Terrorism," sponsored by the
Competitive Enterprise Institute, McInnis reported that the "number one
threat of violence in this country is eco-terrorism."
"Whether it is bombing an abortion clinic, or whether it is blowing up a
mink farm, or burning down [a corporation], there is no place in our society. We
cannot accept this kind of violence," McInnis said.
McInnis' subcommittee conducted a hearing on eco-terrorism last month, at which
time, Craig Rosebraugh, a former spokesman for ELF, cited his Fifth Amendment
right against self-incrimination for every question he was asked. During that
same hearing, James Jarboe, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief of the FBI,
reported that the ALF and ELF have become "one of the most active extremist
elements in the United States."
Thursday, Jarboe said "the FBI estimates that the ALF/ELF have committed
more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in
damages in excess of $43 million."
McInnis said he is concerned with the "lack of arrests and lack of
investigations in regards to these acts of violence" and he added that it
is time to go after the financial backers of such extremist groups.
"We need to increase awareness of some of these foundations and
organizations who knowingly make contributions to the ALF and ELF, and other
foundations who have no idea about what their money is being used for, which is
usually just sent as part of their annual distribution," McInnis said.
On February 12, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) reported to the
subcommittee that in the last several years, PETA made donations to ELF and
several defense funds for accused ALF members.
As a result of those findings, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE)
petitioned the IRS Monday to strip PETA of its tax-exempt status.
"Why hasn't the IRS looked into this? Or Congress?" asked CDFE
Executive Ron Arnold. "PETA continually encourages unlawful acts. PETA
people have numerous arrests.
"Tax exempt status is for charitable purposes. There's nothing charitable
about encouraging arson," Arnold said. "Enough is enough. PETA should
be stripped of its tax exempt status."
PETA spokesperson Lisa Lange acknowledged a $1,500 donation to ELF for a
"project of habitat protection," which concluded, "meat eating is
a huge problem for the environment."
"This is one of our focuses of our vegetarian campaign reaching to
environmentalists, basically saying you can't be an environmentalist and eat
meat, and the ELF was going to be doing some publicity on that very thing,"
Lange said. "We saw it as an opportunity to get our message out.
"None of our money goes toward illegal activities," Lange insisted.
"This specific project we funded was a quality project."
Lange also said PETA is open about its contributions to the legal aid of accused
ALF members. According to a release by the Center for Consumer Freedom, PETA
made a $2,000 contribution to the defense of David Wilson in 1990, and $5,000
contribution to the "Josh Harper Support Committee."
Lange could not verify the dollar amounts.
"I'll suppose that those are true," Lange said. "It's not
something that I have committed to memory because it is not that big of a deal,
Lange also said PETA gave $45,000 to the defense of Rod Coronado, an ALF member
who was convicted of a fire bombing at Michigan State University.
"In the case of Rod Coronado ... he needed defense and we helped him,"
"Donations of support were given to those individuals (like David Wilson),
because every person in America has a right to be considered innocent before
proven guilty," Lange said. "They also have a right to a legal
However, McInnis does believe PETA's claims.
"PETA clearly knew what their money was going toward, in my opinion,"
As far as the IRS investigation that CDFE is requesting, Lange said, "The
IRS is welcome to come do an audit, absolutely, anytime."
CDFE President Alan Gottlieb said the IRS has waited too long to investigate
groups like PETA, and hopes the report of the donations will finally convince
"The IRS has been slack in its oversight of this dangerous group. So we
have had to issue a formal complaint to IRS Commissioner [Charles] Rossotti
himself," Gottleib said. "We hope the IRS will take PETA seriously
McInnis referred to the "very selfish motivation" of organizaions like
ELF and ALF in committing acts of terrorism, but pointed out that not all
environmental groups are as extreme as those groups.
"Three-fourths of the major environmental organizations in this country
hold [groups like ELF and ALF] in disdain," McInnis said. "They try to
distance themselves from them, because they understand the real harm in somebody
like ELF and ALF has on the other environmental groups out there.
"It is this kind of image that dilutes very sound messages other groups are
trying to convey," he said.
www.CNSNews.com - (CNSNews.com) - A prominent
animal rights organization is the target of another complaint filed with the
Internal Revenue Service. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
allegedly violated its tax-exempt status by failing to disclose the destination
of some of its donations, according to the complaint filed Wednesday by the
Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE).
The complaint is CDFE's second against PETA. The first raised concerns with
donations PETA had made to the legal fund of an alleged member of the Animal
Liberation Front and to the North American Earth Liberation Front for a habitat
project. The FBI has characterized the Earth Liberation Front as a domestic
terrorist organization. The Animal Liberation Front is an offshoot of the Earth
CDFE officials, after inspecting PETA's IRS 990 forms for the fiscal years
ending in 1997 and 1998, say PETA reported income in excess of $25 million, most
of which is unaccounted.
Ron Arnold, CDFE's executive vice president, said there was "clearly an
irregularity of their reporting to the IRS," because PETA had disclosed its
donations and grants in the years before 1997 and after 1998.
In the letter to the IRS, Arnold said: "It is a matter of public concern
who received PETA grants and allocations, how much they received and why they
received it. It is a legitimate question to ask whether PETA gave grants to any
FBI-declared domestic terrorist group during the fiscal years ending July 31,
1997 and July 31, 1998."
Wednesday, Arnold called for the IRS to force the group to "comply with the
"Grant and donation disclosure by non-profit organizations is required by
law," said Arnold. "PETA has denied the tax-paying public-as well as
PETA's own financial supporters-the ability to verify the group's funds were not
used to finance additional terrorist enterprises."
PETA President Ingrid Newkirk denied the allegations.
"Nobody has ever found anything wrong with what we have done," she
Newkirk said CDFE's latest complaint is nothing more than an attempt to get more
"I think that if you don't get enough press for the first thing, you try
again," Newkirk said. "Nobody much cares about it, put it that way,
except outlets that are perhaps sympathetic to this kind of thing.
"I suppose it is a desperate attempt to give it more play, that's all I can
put it down to," she said. "I mean, surely, they would have had the
brains to put what they wanted in the first [complaint.]"