News & Opinion | June 19, 2019 10:27 am

Wealthy Manhattan Hedge Fund Manager Donated $3 Million to Anti-Vaxx Movement

Bernard Selz and his wife are well known for their philanthropic support of the arts, education and now, measles

Bernard and Lisa Selz have emerged as major contributors to the anti-vaxx movement
Bernard and Lisa Selz have emerged as major contributors to the anti-vaxx movement
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

An affluent Manhattan couple has been revealed as significant financial contributors to the anti-vaccine movement.

Hedge fund manager Bernard Selz and his wife, Lisa, have donated more than $3 million to anti-vaccine organizations, the Washington Post reported. The couple’s private foundation, the Selz Foundation, has funded groups that promote misinformation about the safety of vaccines, contributing to the recent surge in measles rates across the country.

The Selz Foundation has reportedly provided roughly three-fourths of the funding for the Informed Consent Action Network, an anti-vaccine organization of which Lisa Selz serves as president. The three-year-old charity brought in $1.4 million in revenue in 2014, thanks in large part to the Selz Foundation’s $1 million contribution.

Headed by former daytime television show producer Del Bigtree, the organization claims to promote vaccine safety and parental choice in vaccine decisions. “They should be allowed to have the measles if they want the measles,” Bigtree told reporters earlier this month outside a forum in Brooklyn, where the measles outbreak has been particularly concentrated. “It’s crazy that there’s this level of intensity around a trivial childhood illness.”

Bernard Selz heads Selz Capital, a hedge fund with a portfolio valued at over $500 million. His wife Liza Selz previously worked for Manufacturers Hanover Trust and Tiffany and Co. and has helped manage the couple’s private foundation since 1993. According to a news release issued by LaGuardia Community College Foundation, where Lisa Selz was previously a board member, the Selz Foundation focuses on “humanitarian, educational, geriatric, homeopathic, animal causes and the arts.”

The couple’s anti-vaccine efforts seem to have begun in 2012, when they made a $200,000 donation to a legal fund for Andrew Wakefield, a prominent anti-vaccine activist who rose to fame in 1998 after publishing a since-retracted paper in a respected British medical journal that claimed to link the MMR vaccine to autism in eight children.

The Washington Post was unable to contact the Selzs or a representative for the couple, and friends and family declined to comment. According to an unnamed woman who reportedly answered the phone at the Selzs’ residence, “There’s nothing to say.”

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