In 2002 the Center for Consumer Freedom first revealed that PETA had donated $1,500 of tax-exempt funds to the FBI-labeled terrorist Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Now, in a story about recent ELF arsons, the Associated Press has published the eighth in a series of different explanations PETA has offered for this misguided (and possibly illegal) cash grant.

Yesterday’s AP story notes: “PETA said the money was used to send two people to Washington to testify at a congressional hearing on behalf of an ELF spokesman.” Funny — PETA officials never mentioned this in 2002, when they offered the following explanations:

1) “PETA President Ingrid Newkirk says … that the ELF donation was for a publication (and not its illegal activities).” [The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2002]

2) “[Newkirk] said she did not remember the check to ELF, which was reported on the organization’s 2000 tax return.” [ABC News, February 26, 2002]

3) “[Newkirk] also said the money PETA gave to the North American Earth Liberation Front was in response to a request for funds for educational materials.” [The Associated Press, March 4, 2002]

4) “Newkirk also confirms that [PETA] donated money to the ELF for ‘habitat protection.'” [KOMO-TV Seattle, March 5, 2002]

5) “PETA [said they] contributed $1,500 during the 2000 fiscal year to ELF for education and habitat protection.” [The Denver Post, March 6, 2002]

6) “The only reason we did it is because it was a program that we supported. And it was about vegetarianism.” [PETA communications director Lisa Lange on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News Channel, March 7, 2002]

7) “In April 2001, PETA sent a check in the amount of $1,500.00 to the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office to assist Craig Rosebraugh with legal expenses related to free speech issues regarding animal protection issues.” [PETA general counsel Jeff Kerr, letter to U.S. Congressman Scott McInnis, March 14, 2002]

Just to clear up a few points from PETA’s many contradictory explanations: PETA’s tax return for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2001 (FY2000) lists a disbursement to the “North American Earth Liberation Front.” No mention was made of any “press office.” And while PETA may claim to have earmarked the grant in question for any number of lawful purposes (depending on what day you ask them), the Earth Liberation Front has no “lawful, charitable, animal protection program activities.” Period. In testimony before the House of Representatives last year, even long-time ELF “spokesperson” Craig Rosebraugh was unable to articulate any.