The virulently anti-gay American Family Association generates buzz and media attention year after year by launching outlandish boycott campaigns – McDonald’s is the latest target. It also doesn’t hurt that their flamboyant founder and chairman, Don Wildmon, more than lives up to his name.
PR is the lifeblood of a group like AFA, so you might think that they’d be thrilled when a longtime supporter of the group rocketed to the top of the media charts. Maybe so, but not when that supporter happens to be the FBI’s only suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks – Bruce Ivins.
Indeed, the nation learned today that Ivins and his wife – who served as president of a local anti-abortion group – were strongly committed to the AFA:
Donations were made to AFA in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Ivins 11 times between 1993 and 1997. Another donation by the couple was recorded one month after an article about the Greendale incident appeared in the AFA Journal. The Ivins subscribed to the Journal until March 2005.
And his support for the AFA actually helped the FBI catch him:
Bureau investigators also connected the fictitious return address on the second round of anthrax letters – the “Greendale School” of Franklin Park, N.J. – to a charity well-known to Ivins. He had donated numerous times to a group called the American Family Association, which in 1999 had filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents at the Greendale Baptist Academy in Wisconsin in a dispute involving corporal punishment.
Here’s a scanned image of one of the envelopes:
Knowing more about Ivins’ background may help explain a great deal about the attacks, especially the targets. The anthrax letters were sent almost exclusively to prominent Democrats – Senator Pat Leahy and then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle – and large, New York media outlets. Interestingly, Senators Leahy and Daschle and the mainstream media have consistently served as punching bags for the AFA.