Meet the Animal Rights Movement’s Rich Aunt

The deceptively named “Cancer Project” animal-rights group is at it again. This time its target isn’t hot dog makers, but grilled-chicken servers. The group, a branch of the PETA-linked Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), filed a lawsuit in Connecticut yesterday against three restaurant chains demanding warnings about a supposed link between grilled chicken and cancer. As we told the media, PCRM is nothing more than an animal rights front for pushing vegan activism, which is funded primarily by a single rich donor. Since 2003, PCRM and the Cancer Project have derived 60 percent of their budgets from a single woman: Nanci Alexander, the wealthy founder of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.

The Palm Beach New Times called up the Cancer Project and Nancy Alexander to inquire further about her funding role, but the newspaper was stonewalled by both parties:

Ms. Alexander declined to comment for this article, but Jeanne Stuart McVey, a spokesperson for the Cancer Project, confirmed that the PCRM and Cancer Watch [sic] are "sister organizations." McVey played down the notion that the groups are radical vegetarians, but did acknowledge that they "recommend a plant-based diet for better health." McVey deflected questions about Ms. Alexander's role in funding the Cancer Project.

Since the Cancer Project prefers to deflect answers, we’re happy to fill in the information gap. The tax returns for “Nanci’s Animal Rights Foundation, Inc.” tell the whole story. (Yes, she actually calls it “Nanci’s Animal Rights Foundation.” We call it “Nanci’s ARF” for short.)

Since 2003, Nanci’s ARF has given $30 million to the PCRM Foundation, which in turn funds PCRM and the Cancer Project. That’s on top of $10 million Alexander reportedly gave PCRM before her foundation was incorporated, and $22 million that Nanci’s ARF has donated to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In 1998, PETA recognized Nanci and her now ex-husband Leslie Alexander — a board member of the Humane Society of the United States — as its largest individual donors.

Skeptical? Here are the tax returns filed to date by Nanci’s ARF: [ 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 ]

According to tax filings of groups in the PCRM orbit, total revenues during those same years for the PCRM Foundation, PCRM itself, and the Cancer Project (minus the amount the Foundation doled out to the other two) is $66.7 million — with $40 million (60 percent) of that total coming from Nanci’s ARF.

Can someone say “sugar momma”?

As we wrote back in 2003, previous tax records indicated that Nanci Alexander and her ex-husband also partially funded the operations of "Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty" (SHAC), one of the most violent groups of animal-rights terrorists ever dragged into court. As part of her divorce settlement, Nanci reportedly won a $150 million fortune, more than a third of which has already gone to PETA and PCRM. As of June 2008, Nanci’s ARF still had over $61 million in the bank.

Nanci Alexander also runs a well-known vegetarian restaurant in south Florida. Which could make Nanci’s latest lawsuit-bankrolling look like an anti-competitive business strategy. What better way to denigrate the non-veggie competition than forcing a cancer warning label on their best-selling product? We’re wondering how many restaurants near Nanci’s Alexander’s tofu dinner joint serve grilled chicken. And will the Federal Trade Commission take a closer look?

We’re not worried about Nanci, though. She’ll be in good hands. PCRM apparently has a staff of lawyers with nothing productive to do.

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