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The Hedge Fund Founder Giving Big Bucks to Anti-Vax Groups
In a rough week for Selz Capital, its founder drew scrutiny for supporting anti-vaccination efforts, just as its chief investment officer said he’s leaving the firm.
A foundation run by the founder of Selz Capital, a New York-based hedge fund firm with roughly $750 million under management, has come under fire for funding anti-vaccination groups.
The Selz Foundation, which is run by Bernard Selz and his wife, Lisa Selz, has contributed to — and in one case, essentially funded — groups that take firm anti-vaccination stances and promote those views by creating movies and hosting events to attract press, tax filings show. The Washington Post first reported the news on Wednesday.
This revelation comes as the United States is experiencing the greatest number of cases of measles since 1992, primarily in pockets of unvaccinated people, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
Meanwhile, Selz Capital’s chief investment officer is leaving the firm, Institutional Investor learned Wednesday.
Ian Lieberman, who has served as Selz Capital’s CIO since 2018, said via a LinkedIn message that he is about to leave the firm. He said he does not know where he will work next, but that his reason for leaving the firm was not related to the vaccination situation. Selz Capital declined to comment.
The Selz Foundation contributed $1.05 million to the Informed Consent Action Network, a non-profit that promotes anti-vaccination research, in 2017, tax filings show. The foundation contributed $100,000 to the group in 2016, a separate filing shows.
The Selz Foundation’s contributions accounted for roughly 74 percent of the nonprofit’s contributions in 2017, and roughly 82 percent of the nonprofits contributions the previous year, its form 990 shows. Lisa Selz is the president of the group.
A large portion of the Informed Consent Action Network’s capital was spent on legal counsel in 2017, its form 990 shows. The group paid Siri & Glimstad LLP, a New York-based law firm, $672,506 in 2017, according to the form.
When an Institutional Investor reporter called a spokesperson for the Informed Consent Action Network, the spokesperson said, “we're not interested,” and hung up.
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This is not the only organization with anti-vaccination ties that the Selz Foundation contributed to. In 2017, the foundation contributed $450,000 to the Autism Media Channel Foundation.
The group’s website is now defunct, but its founder produced a film repeating false claims that a link between vaccination and autism exists and that the government is attempting to cover it up. CDC studies and other major research projects have shown that the two are not linked.
A spokesperson for the film did not respond to an email seeking comment. Tommey also did not respond to an email seeking comment.