Concerned Women for America
Concerned Women for America (CWA) is a conservative women's organization that describes its goal as "helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy." Mother Jones describes CWA as "a conservative anti-feminist operation," while the Southern Poverty Law Center identified CWA as one of the most influential anti-gay groups in the United States. The organization has actively supported the appointment of right-wing Supreme Court justices, including Brett Kavanaugh. CWA is closely tied to the Koch Brother’s network, leading to a report by the Bridge Project and NARAL Pro-Choice America titled “Koch-Cerned Women for America.” CWA has accepted large amounts of funding from Koch-affiliated organizations, including Freedom Partners, the Center To Protect Patient Rights, Tc4 Trust, and DonorsTrust.
CWA describes its mission as "to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens -- first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society -- thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation." According to its website, CWA focuses on seven core issues, which it lists as "sanctity of life," "defense of family," "education," "religious liberty," "national sovereignty," "sexual exploitation," and "support for Israel."
Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.
- 1 Ties to the Koch Brothers
- 2 News and Controversies
- 3 Involvement in Elections
- 4 History
- 5 Funding
- 6 Personnel
- 7 Former Personnel
- 8 Core Financials
- 9 Contact Information
- 10 Articles and Resources
Ties to the Koch Brothers
CWA was part of the Koch brothers' $400 million network in the 2012 election cycle. It has received substantial funding from the Koch donor network in recent years. The Kochs' Freedom Partners gave CWA $8.15 million in 2012, and the Center to Protect Patient Rights gave donations totaling $1,678,073 to CWA between 2010 and 2012. DonorsTrust, a donor-advised fund to which the Kochs contribute, reported a $70,000 grant to CWA in 2010.
The Bridge Project and NARAL Pro-Choice America report “Koch-Cerned Women for America” details the financial and ideological support CWA has received from the Koch network. In addition to donations, CWA and various Koch groups have engaged in advocacy and lobbying efforts on a variety of topics. Prominent examples include, the 2010 collaboration with Americans for Prosperity, and the 60 Plus Association to create the website www.SpendingRevolt.com and conduct a multi-state bus tour to educate taxpayers. In 2015, CWA CEO Penny Nance was featured at a rally hosted by AFP, with AFP president Tim Phillips, 60 Plus President Jim Martin, and Rep. Paul Ryan.
News and Controversies
Support for Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh
CWA has launched a $500,000 campaign to support the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The group maintains a page on their website for the campaign titled “Women for Kavanaugh.” The page hosts several news updates and links to pages describing their advocacy efforts to support the nomination of the right-wing anti-choice judge to the Supreme Court. A blog post titled, “Conservative Women Rally to Support Judge Kavanaugh” described the close scrutiny CWA gave to President Trump’s selection, stating “he did not disappoint.”
Before the nomination, Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, said in a statement, “this is the moment conservative women have been waiting for — the chance to return justice and constitutional limits to the nation’s highest court. Our nation is at a pivotal moment, and CWA ladies will be in the center of the action, protecting our future children and grandchildren with grace and dignity.”
Affiliates of CWA around the country also support Kavanaugh’s confirmation. An editorial by CWA North Dakota President Linda Thorson stated “There is no question Kavanaugh is imminently qualified for the Supreme Court. He is a jurist who upholds the Constitution as written, instead of relying on that ‘living Constitution’ judges use to enact their personal opinions into law.” In criticizing the concept of a living constitution, Thorson criticizes legal theory which has expanded basic human rights and dignity to an ever greater number of Americans. The editorial urges Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who is “in a toss up fight against Rep. Kevin Cramer” to reject “the political machinations of her party’s leadership in Washington and stand with the people of North Dakota.”
CWA employee Janae Stracke recently tweeted that she overheard a staffer for Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill state she would never vote to confirm Kavanaugh. The tweet read, “Overheard @clairecmc staffer Moriah discussing #Kavanaugh at hearing today. She said McCaskill won’t even consider voting yes for Kavanaugh and then bragged, “She’s in such a red state, but she doesn’t even try. She doesn’t give a sh** and I love it.” The CWA tweet was seized upon by McCaskill’s opponent in the 2018 election, Attorney General Josh Hawley. Hawley tweeted “This is incredible. @clairecmc only one way to make this right. Pledge NOW to vote for Judge #Kavanaugh.” The attack was criticized by the Kansas City Star, which pointed out there is no “Moriah” on McCaskill’s staff.
Ties to Russian Anti-LGBT Law
CWA has been a co-sponsor of the World Congress of Families (WCF) since 1999, according to its own press releases. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies WCF as an anti-LGBT hate group, and a detailed 2014 report by Mother Jones has described how "WCF has lent its support to anti-gay politics elsewhere in Eastern Europe -- Serbia, Lithuania, Romania -- but it has had its biggest and most notable successes in Russia."
In 2013, Russia passed a federal law banning "propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientations" that has been widely criticized for spurring discrimination and violence against LGBT Russians. In February 2014, CWA senior fellow Janice Shaw Crouch expressed support for Russia's policies at a press conference, saying, "I hope that the United States will learn some lessons, quite frankly, from Russia."
CWA only withdrew from a planned 2014 WCF conference in Moscow after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in March 2014.
Participation in State Department Religious Freedom Conference
A number of anti-LGBTI organizations, including CWA, participated in a three-day religious freedom conference the State Department during the week of July 23, 2018. The Heritage Foundation and CWA co-sponsored a panel titled, “Protecting International Religious Freedom from the Politicization of Human Rights” that took place at the Rayburn House Office Building on Tuesday, July 24 and again at the Heritage Foundation on Thursday, July 26. The panel sought to claim that religious freedom is a true human right or “natural right” and economic, social and cultural rights (recognized by the United Nations and numerous other international human rights organizations) are “a dangerous trend in the international human rights movement” that politicize human rights and subvert religious freedom.
CWA is a virulently anti-LGBT rights group. The organization has been followed closely by organizations tracking the activities of similar groups such as the and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Monitoring CWA activities, HRC reported, “a CWA Spokesperson claimed that domestic violence is twice as common among LGBTQ couples as it is among heterosexual couples. Janice Crouse wrote in a column published on Townhall.com, “Further, the health risks associated with homosexual practice are very real and very much in evidence in the emergency rooms of hospitals. There is no denying: Homosexual sex is dangerous and destructive to the human body. Both HIV and HPV are epidemic among homosexual men. Domestic violence is a common problem twice as prevalent among homosexual couples as in heterosexual ones.” HRC also warned about CWA’s lies regarding the LGBT community, reporting, “on CWA’s site, their talking points on ‘homosexual marriage’ state, ‘Homosexual marriage is as wrong as giving a man a license to marry his mother or daughter or sister or a group...the assumption by many is that marriage is just two people with a license who have sex and wear rings. Homosexuals do that? Why not give them the license? Engaging in sex doesn’t equal marriage. Adults involved in incest have sex too; should government call it marriage and license them? Certainly not.’”
Involvement in Elections
CWA's PAC, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, has reported several hundred thousand dollars in spending to the FEC in the past several election cycles. However, CWA itself has also been politically active as a "dark money" nonprofit, not required to disclose its donors or its spending on so-called "issue ads" during election cycles. Thus its total spending on political activities during a given election cycle can be much higher than the amount reported by its PAC.
2014 Election Cycle
As of July 2014, CWA's PAC had reported $117,322 in spending to the FEC for the 2014 election cycle.
CWA endorsed Baptist preacher Mark Harris in the North Carolina Republican Senate primary. Harris tweeted that he was "honored" to receive the endorsement, prompting LGBT rights group Equality NC to respond that "any endorsement from, and praise for, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group -- citing anti-LGBT statements equating homosexuality with pedophilia and accusations 'homosexual activists' fabricate hate crime reports -- should make North Carolinians reconsider their vote."
2012 Election Cycle
In the 2012 cycle, CWA's PAC reported a total of $295,516 in spending to the FEC. The bulk of the spending, according to CWA's filings, went to "fundraising" (70 percent) and "administrative" (29 percent) expenses. According to the Washington Post, CWA organized a get-out-the-vote campaign for conservative Christian women.
CWA also reported direct contributions to four candidates:
- Robert Aderholt (R-AL): $250
- Deb Fischer (R-NE): $250
- Richard Mourdock (R-IN): $1,000
- Mitt Romney (R): $250
CWA Spends $6M on Anti-ACA Ads in Battleground States
CWA spent $6 million on television ads attacking the Affordable Care Act. One 60-second ad, titled "Care," began running June 20, 2012 and ran in Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Mother Jones described the ad buy as "unusually large" for the group, noting that $6 million "vastly exceed[ed] the action committee's entire budget from the past several years."
As described by the Huffington Post, the ad "warn[ed] that the White House-backed health care law might limit patient care and increase the federal deficit."
CWA was founded in 1978 by Beverly LaHaye. She was reportedly inspired by an interview with feminist activist Betty Friedan, who claimed that she wanted to make America a “humanist nation.” LaHaye reportedly said she wanted “no part” of Friedan’s vision for America. The first meeting of the group led by LaHaye that would later become CWA was held in San Diego, also in 1978, to “alert” women to the dangers of the Equal Rights Amendment which would guarantee equal rights regardless of sex. Fighting against the ERA would be a major cause throughout much of CWA’s history.
CWA was officially registered as a non-profit in January 1979. In the same year, President Jimmy Carter declared it the International Year of the Child. CWA began a campaign “to expose this United Nations strategy to ‘nationalize’ all children of the world.”
In 1983, CWA opened an office in Washington, while keeping their national headquarters in San Diego. The national headquarters later moved to Washington in 1985.
Betty LaHaye led numerous “fact finding” missions, such as a trip to Central America in 1986 to visit victims of Marxist regimes. She has also testified on confirmation of Supreme Court justices, such as Antonin Scalia in 1986 and Anthony Kennedy in 1988.
In the late 1990s, CWA was one of the leading conservative groups calling for impeachment of President Bill Clinton. CWA appeared in press conferences and national news programs calling for his removal from office.
In 2010, Penny Young Nance assumed the role of CEO and president.
CWA received over $8.4 million from the Koch-tied Freedom Partners from 2012 to 2013, over $1.3 million from the Koch-tied TC4 Trust in 2011, and over $1.6 million from the Koch-tied Center to Protect Patient Rights between 2010 and 2012, including $1.5 million in 2011.
CWA has received $80,100 from DonorsTrust in 2007 and 2010. DonorsTrust is considered a "donor-advised fund," which means that it divides its funds into separate accounts for individual donors, who then recommend disbursements from the accounts to different non-profits. Funds like DonorsTrust are not uncommon in the non-profit sector, but they do cloak the identity of the original donors because the funds are typically distributed in the name of DonorsTrust rather than the original donors. Many DonorsTrust funders have ties to the Koch brothers.
CWA has also received $30,000 from the Bill and Berniece Grewcock Foundation from 1998-2003, $30,000 from Free Enterprise America in 2011, $14,500 from the National Christian Foundation in 2012, $2,000 from the Deramus Foundation in 2011, and $2,000 from the Lynn & Foster Friess Family Foundation in 2002 and 2003.
- Beverly LaHaye, Chairman
- Linda Murphy, Vice Chairman
- Penny Nance, President/CEO
- Denise Cappucio, Director of Finance
- Sara Olson, Senior VP of External Relations
- Cherie Short, VP of External Affairs
- Tanya Ditty, Secretary
- Janne Myrdal, Trustee
- Cheryl Keithly, Treasurer
- Linda Schauer, Trustee
- Lori Scheck, Trustee
- Angel Voggenreiter, Trustee
- Jon Whetsell, Trustee
- Amanda Sanders, Trustee
- Alexandria Paolozzi, Senate Legislative Director, Issue Specialist on Israel
- Chelsea Patterson, Young Women for America Coordinator
- Chelsen Vicari, Communications Strategist
- Alison Howard, Communications Director
- Chaney Mullins, Special Projects Writer
- Ashley Pratte
As of July 2014:
- Penny Young Nance, CEO and president
- Janice Shaw Crousel, Executive Director and Senior Fellow
- Kenda Bartlett, Executive Director
- Mario Diaz, Legal Counsel
- Shari Rendall, Director of House Legislation
- Alison Howard, Communications Director
- Alexandria Paolozzi, Senate Legislative Director
- Caroline Biggs, Young Women for America Coordinator
- Beverly LaHaye - founder and chairman
- Wendy Wright - president
- Janice Shaw Crouse - senior fellow, Beverly LaHaye Institute
- Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues, now with Liberty University Law School and Liberty Counsel
Total Revenue: $4,015,804
Total Expenses: $3,884,928
Net Assets: $180,189
Total Revenue: $3,846,547
Total Expenses: $4,078,589
Net Assets: $49,313
Total Revenue: $4,074,240
Total Expenses: $4,069,162
Net Assets: $281,355
Concerned Women for America
1015 Fifteenth St. N.W., Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 488-7000
FAX: (202) 488-0806
Articles and Resources
Related PRWatch Articles
- Richard Eskow, “The Koch Caucus Continues Its Assault on Healthcare”, April 4, 2017.
- David Armiak, “Koch Cash Working to Flip the Senate in Iowa”, November 2, 2016.
- Lisa Graves and David Armiak, "UPDATE Koch Candidates? Where Is the Koch Machine Spending in 2016 So Far", June 14, 2016.
- Mary Bottari, “Koch Brothers' Fingerprints Can Be Found All Over GOP Convention”, July 21, 2016.
- PRWatch Editors, “Did the Kochs Just Anoint Marco Rubio?”, February 23, 2016.
- Lisa Graves, “Josh Duggar-led Group Funded via Koch Brothers Freedom Partners Operation”, August 22, 2015.
- Brendan Fischer, “Koch-Tied Group Urges Stoners Not to Vote for Mary Burke”, November 2, 2014.
- Mary Bottari, “A Field Guide to the Koch O’ Nuts Behind the Near Government Default”, October 17, 2013.
- Lisa Graves, “Breaking: New List of the Dark Money Shell Game Groups Connected to the Kochs”, September 18, 2013.
- Nick Surgey, “Revealed: Extensive Koch Links to New Right-Wing $250 Million Mega Fund”, September 16, 2013.
- Diane Farsetta, “Rebranding Abstinence Only”, June 24, 2009.
- Diane Farsetta, “The Swift Boating Begins in August”, June 25, 2008.
- Miranda Blue, “Concerned Women For America Lobbying Trump Administration To Stop Overseas LGBTQ Rights Programs”, February 7, 2018.
- Southern Poverty Law Center, “Trump administration taps long-time anti-feminist and anti-choice activist for global women’s issues position”, November 8, 2017.
- Nahal Toosi, “Conservative activist up for global women's issues ambassadorship withdraws from consideration”, November 13, 2017.
- Summer Lin, “Who Is Penny Young Nance? The Anti-Feminist Could Become Trump's Global Women's Issues Ambassador”, October 31, 2017.
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Concerned Women for America, People for the American Way, accessed March 12, 2008.
- Steven Gardiner, "Concerned Women for America: A Case Study", Feminism and Women's Studies, August 28, 2006.
- Ronnee Schreiber, Righting Feminism: Conservative Women and American Politics, Oxford University Press, June 2008. ISBN 0195331818 ISBN 978-0195331813
- The Bridge Project and NARAL Pro-Choice America, Koch-Cerned Women for America, June 15, 2015.
- Concerned Women for America, Our History, organizational website, accessed July 17, 2014.
- Concerned Women for America, About CWA, organizational website, accessed July 17, 2014.
- Concerned Women for America, Issues, organizational website, accessed July 17, 2014.
- Matea Gold, "Koch-backed political network, built to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012 elections," Washington Post, January 5, 2014.
- Penny Nance, Conservative Women Rally to Support Judge Kavanaugh, “Concerned Women for America”, July 14, 2018.
- ABC News Radio, Trump narrows Supreme Court nominee to 4 names, “News Channel Nebraska”, July 9, 2018.
- Linda Thorson, Heitkamp should vote to confirm Kavanaugh, July 29, 2018.
- Kansas City Star Editorial Board, No question McCaskill is vulnerable. But why are Hawley’s attacks on her so desperate?, “Kansas City Star”, July 24, 2018.
- Concerned Women for America, "CWA Leader Helps Plan World Congress of Families," press release, October 26, 2011.
- Southern Poverty Law Center, "World Congress of Families Suspends Russia Conference," March 25, 2014.
- Hannah Levintova, "How US Evangelicals Helped Create Russia's Anti-Gay Movement," Mother Jones, February 21, 2014.
- Human Rights Watch, "Russia: Anti-LGBT Law a Tool for Discrimination," June 30, 2014.
- Owen Gibson and Shaun Walker, "Olympians urge Russia to reconsider 'gay propaganda' laws," The Guardian, January 30, 2014.
- J. Lester Feder, "Russia Is The Real Guardian Of Human Rights, Say Activists Fighting LGBT Advances," Buzzfeed, February 5, 2014.
- J. Lester Feder, "Leading Conservative Group Withdraws From “Pro-Life Olympics” In Moscow Over Russian Invasion Of Ukraine," Buzzfeed, March 11, 2014.
- Michael K. Lavers, Anti-LGBTI groups participate in State Dept. religious freedom conference, “Washington Blade”, July 28, 2018.
- Human Rights Campaign, 10 Things You Should Know About Concerned Women For America, accessed August 3, 2018.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Concerned Women for America, 2014 spending report, accessed July 17, 2014.
- Mark Harris, Honored to receive the endorsement of CWPAC, the nation's largest public policy women's organization!, Twitter post, January 8, 2014. Accessed July 17, 2014.
- Equality NC, Equality NC Responds to Anti-LGBT Group's Endorsement of Senate Candidate, organizational press release, January 10, 2014.
- John Frank, "US Senate: Thom Tillis easily wins Republican primary, takes aim at Democrat Kay Hagan," News Observer, May 6, 2014.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Concerned Women for America, 2012 spending profile, accessed July 17, 2014.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Concerned Women for America, OpenSecrets.org 2012 direct expenditures report, accessed July 17, 2014.
- Concerned Women for America, "CWA Launches Multi-Million Dollar Ad Buy Highlighting Side Effects of Government-Run Health Care," press release, June 20, 2012.
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- Peter H. Stone, "Koch Brothers, GOP Mega Donors, Help Bankroll Religious Conservative's 2012 Efforts," Huffington Post, August 5, 2012.
- Concerned Women for America, Our History, accessed August 1, 2018.
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- American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, Concerned Women for America, ConservativeTransparency.org, accessed February 2015.
- Viveca Novak, Center for Responsive Politics, Center to Protect Patient Rights Gave Millions in 2011 to Outside Spenders in Election OpenSecrets.org, December 17, 2012.
- Rebekah Wilce, A Reporters' Guide to the "State Policy Network" -- the Right-Wing Think Tanks Spinning Disinformation and Pushing the ALEC Agenda in the States, PRWatch.org, April 4, 2013.
- Paul Abowd, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, Center for Public Integrity, February 14, 2013.
- Profile: Concerned Women for America, Media Transparency, accessed March 11, 2008.
- Concerned Women for America, 2017 990 Form, accessed August 1, 2018.
- Concerned Women for America, CWA Fellows, accessed, August 1, 2018.
- Concerned Women for America, Our Experts, organizational website, accessed July 17, 2014.
- Concerned Women for America, Concerned Women for America 2015 990 Form, accessed August 1, 2018.