The revelation that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals donated $1,500 to the Earth Liberation Front seems to have done quite a bit of damage to PETA’s reputation and (hopefully) may even jeopardize its tax exempt status. But what exactly did that money go for? Oddly enough, PETA seems to be trying to tell two contradictory stories about this.
As I mentioned before, PETA’s lawyer, Jeffrey Kerr, formally responded to an inquiry from Rep. Scott McInnis. Robert Gehrke of the Associated Press summed up Kerr’s response this way,
But Kerr said that in April  the group [PETA] did write a $1,500 check to the North American ELF media office to assist in the legal defense for the group’s spokesman, Craig Rosebraugh, in free speech matters.
Not what I think their donors had in mind … and apparently not what PETA’s Lisa Lange had in mind. Because Lange told a completely different story to CNSNews.Com,
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.”
This article appeared on March 8, 2002. On March 13, 2002, Ingrid Newkirk sent a letter in response to the article which acknowledged that the money had in fact gone to defend Craig Rosebraugh, but offered no explanation at all as to why Lange was telling people that it was for a “project about habitat protection.” Newkirk wrote,
What we do, say, and how we spend our money is always legal and open to scrutiny.
When we gave $1,500 to the Earth Liberation Front press office, it was for help with legal bills for one good animal protectionist who we felt was being harassed and has never been charged with anything at all.
Then why was Lange trying to spin this as just some basic anti-meat habitat protection project?
Imagine that — a PETA activist making up facts and distorting the truth!
PETA Under Attack for Funding Alleged Eco-Terrorists. Jason Pierce, CNSNews.Com, March 8, 2002.
PETA President Responds to Critics. Ingrid Newkirk, Letter to the editor, CNSNews.Com, March 13, 2002.
Group accuses Congressman with a ‘New McCarthyism.’ Robert Gehrke, Associated Press, March 16, 2002.