The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is urging the Internal Revenue Service to pull the tax-exempt status of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on the grounds that the group funds criminal activists.

CCF charges that PETA has donated more than $150,000 to groups whose members have been jailed for arson, burglary and attempted murder.

CCF bills itself as a “non-profit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies and consumers working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.”

CCF says PETA donated $1,500 in 2001 to the North American Earth Liberation Front, a group classified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as “domestic terrorists.”

PETA members have been arrested numerous times for various criminal offenses, including felonies.

As a non-profit organization, PETA pays no federal taxes on its income, which was more than $17 million in 2002, giving them a tax break of about $3 million.

“Because this tax break amounts to a huge subsidy, every American taxpayer is footing the bill for PETA's behavior,” says CCF.

CCF has set up a petition on its Web site (www.consumerfreedom.com) to withdraw PETA's tax-exempt status.