Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.
The Freedom Foundation, formerly known as the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, is a libertarian think tank based in Olympia, Washington, whose mission is "to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government." Freedom Foundation is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN).
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
Bob Williams, founder of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and a Senior Fellow as of August 2016, was formerly the private sector chair of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He is also on the ALEC Board of Scholars as of August 2016. In August 2011, he received ALEC's Private Sector Member of the Year Award.
Williams has been active in sponsoring model legislation and presenting it to the task force on behalf the Freedom Foundation. In 2010, Williams sponsored the "Defined Contribution Pension Reform Act" at the States and Nation Policy Summit. At the 2011 Spring Task Force Summit, Mr. Williams presented "Broken Budgets in the States" and the "Unfunded Pension Liabilities Accounting Act." His Freedom Foundation colleague, Amber Gunn, sponsored the "State Agency Lobbying Reform Act" at the same meeting. At the 2011 ALEC annual meeting, Williams presented on "State Budget Solutions."
Trent England, former Vice President of Policy and Adjunct Fellow at the Freedom Foundation as of August 2016, was on the ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force as of the August 2011 Annual Meeting (the task force was later disbanded in April 2012). He gave a presentation on the Electoral College at ALEC's 2010 States and Nation Policy Summit. Mr. England also participated in a debate (“Electoral College v National Popular Vote”) against Ray Haynes of the National Popular Vote at the 2011 Annual Meeting.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The Freedom Foundation has hosted writers from the ALEC-connected Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which screens potential reporters on their “free market” views as part of the job application process. The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states. Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias. On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."
Franklin Center Funding
Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center's funding "is 100 percent anonymous." But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large "donor-advised fund," cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin's Internal Revenue Service records). Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article. Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.
The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM), a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network, which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation. SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation was founded in 1991 as a private, non-profit public policy think tank in Washington State. Its efforts center around public policy research and alternatives in these core areas: state budget and tax policy, education, labor policy, property rights, legal policy, and citizenship and governance. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation is, according to the Seattle Times, a libertarian think tank, based in Olympia, Washington, founded by Bob Williams, a former state legislator and gubernatorial candidate.
During Dino Rossi's failed attempt to gain the Washington State governorship through a court challenge to the recount process, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation provided strong ideological support. It pushed a "Voter Integrity Project," which focused on requiring voter ID to prevent voter fraud, and started a "Grassroots Washington" group.
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation neither solicits nor accepts funds from the government, according to its promotional materials. All programs and activities are funded by private donations and grants. Its funding comes from individuals, corporations, and numerous private foundations.
News and Controversies
Aggressively Campaigned to Undermine Unions
A March 2016 Article from The Guardian reports how the Freedom Foundation has sponsored efforts to undermine unions in Washington and Oregon. According to the article the Freedom Foundation "dispatched activists to visit the homes of more than 10,000 childcare and home-care workers in Washington and Oregon to advise them that under a two-year-old supreme court decision, they can opt out of paying union dues." Additionally, the Freedom Foundation "has made public records requests to numerous counties to obtain the names and addresses of home-care and childcare aides..." and "does podcasts that rail against unions and sponsors a website, optouttoday.com, telling public-sector workers they can quit their unions."
A fundraising letter from August 2015 stated that "The Freedom Foundation has a proven plan for bankrupting and defeating government unions through education, litigation, legislation and community activation..." and goes on to say that "we won’t be satisfied with anything short of total victory against the government union thugs." In a January 2016 speech to Americans for Prosperity, Oregon Director Anne Marie Gurney stated that "Our No 1 stated focus is to defund the political left." Despite these statements, Freedom Foundation's CEO as of August 2016 Tom McCabe has stated that his goal is simply "to provide freedom to union members and to give them a choice about whether or not they want to belong to a union."
In December 2015 a group of labor unions wrote a letter to the IRS requesting that the Freedom Foundation be stripped of its 501(c)(3) status, arguing that "The Freedom Foundation is operated for the private benefit of the Republican Party and other conservative and libertarian groups..."
Accused of Violating Washington Campaign Finance Laws
In October 2015 Washington's Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Freedom Foundation, accusing them of breaking state campaign finance laws. The Seattle Times reported that Washington AG had accused the foundation of failing "to properly disclose independent expenditures in support of anti-union ballot measures in the towns of Sequim, Chelan and Shelton." In a victory for the Freedom Foundation the judge rejected the Attorney General's lawsuit.
The Freedom Foundation's funders have included:
- The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has given $557,500 from 1998-2014.
- The Roe Foundation, founded by the late Thomas A. Roe, a prominent Heritage Foundation supporter and co-founder of the State Policy Network, has given $400,000 from 1998-2014.
- Donors Capital Fund has given $718,019 in grants from 2010-2014.
- DonorsTrust has given $71,150 in grants from 2010-2014.
- Total Revenue: $2,170,285
- Total Expenses: $2,211,611
- Net Assets: $1,021,760
- Total Revenue: $1,766,236
- Total Expenses: $2,263,750
- Net Assets: $1,061,786
- Total Revenue: $3,240,143
- Total Expenses: $2,236,573
- Net Assets: $1,519,676
- Total Revenue: $2,148,032
- Total Expenses: $2,908,106
- Net Assets: $502,865
- Total Revenue: $2,680,800
- Total Expenses: $2,676,198
- Net Assets: $1,262,939
- Total Revenue: $2,338,192
- Total Expenses: $2,686,930
- Net Assets: $1,249,633
As of August 2016:
- Tom McCabe, CEO
- Brian Minnich, Executive Vice President
Policy and Fellows
- Trent England, Adjunct Fellow (former Executive Vice President)
- Jami Lund, Senior Policy Analyst
- Maxford Nelsen, Director of Labor Policy
- Ben Straka, Oregon Policy Analyst
- Bob Williams, Founder and Senior Fellow
- James Abernathy, Litigation Counsel
- David Dewhirst, Litigation Counsel
- Jim Johnson, Senior Legal Fellow
- Greg Overstreet, Managing Attorney
- Stephanie Olson, Litigation Counsel
- Karen Osborne, Litigation Counsel
- Kirsten Nelsen, Paralegal
Freedom in Action
- Anne Marie Gurney, Oregon Director
- Matthew Hayward, Washington Coordinator
- Aaron Withe, Oregon Outreach Coordinator
- David Bramblett, Creative Director
- Boaz Crawford, Multimedia Designer
- Jeff Rhodes, Managing Editor
- Judy Cook, Development Associate
- Meggan Goudy, Advancement Associate
- Lara Hastings, Advancement Director (Eastern Washington)
- Jennifer Kelly, Development Coordinator
- Vicki Kraft, Advancement Director (Southwest Washington)
- Scott Roberts, Vice President of Development
- Ron Valencia, Advancement Associate
- Billie Roberts, Administrative Assistant
- Gerrit Shilman, Director of Administration and Finance
- Lois Beard - Chief Operations Officer
- Ryan Bedford - Legal Research Assistant
- S. Alex Bohler - Policy Analyst
- Denise Brandt - Volunteer Coordinator / Office Assistant
- Bob Edelman - Director, Voter Integrity Project
- Irene Endicott - Puget Sound Dev. Associate
- Marie Giger - Office Manager
- Lynn Harsh - Senior Vice President
- Cheryl Hymes - Director, Health Care Reform Center
- Gail Kramer - Financial Assistant
- Kathy McDonald - Southwest Washington Development Associate
- Juliana McMahan - Member Services Director / Executive Administrator
- Jason Mercier - Senior Budget Analyst, Economic Policy Center
- Kristen Mercier - Policy Analyst/Grant Writer
- Michael Reitz - Director and Legal Analyst, Labor Policy Center
- Marsha Richards - Director, Education Reform Center
- Joel Sorrell - Multimedia Specialist
- Booker T. Stallworth - Communications Director
- Dan Steele - Multimedia Assistant
- Jonathan Bechtle, former CEO
- Duane Alton, former Trustee
- Mary Jo Kahler, former Trustee
- Roger Bowlin, former Trustee
- Dr. Mathew Manweller, former Trustee
- Harry Truitt, former Trustee
- Amber Gunn, former Economic Policy Fellow
- Diana Moore, former Senior Education Analyst
- Glen Morgan, former Property Rights Director
- David Roland, former Director of the Theodor L. Stiles Center for Liberty
Board of Directors
As of 2014:
- Steve Neighbors, Chair
- Richard Rokes, Vice Chair
- Lou Novak, Secretary
- Tim McMahon, Treasurer
- Hans Stoker, Trustee
- Bill Conner, Trustee
- Robert Jankelson, Trustee
- Barbara Kenney, Trustee
- Laurie Lyford, Trustee
- Alvin Starkenburg, Trustee
- Tracy Wilson, Trustee
- Dr. John Vasko, Trustee
- Elaine Chandler, Trustee
- Charlie Conner, Trustee
P.O. Box 552
Olympia, WA 98507
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- State Policy Network:
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Donors Capital Fund
- Koch Family Foundations
- Koch Industries
- Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
- Heritage Foundation
- Think tanks
- Whitney Ball
- Adam Meyerson
- Bridgett Wagner
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