Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

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The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) is a rightwing, Minneapolis-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2007.[1] Freedom Foundation of Minnesota describes itself as "an independent, non-profit educational and research organization that actively advocates the principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility, economic freedom, and limited government."[2] Annette Meeks, former Deputy Chief of Staff for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, founded FFM in 2006 and served as CEO as of 2021.[3][4]

FFM is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a group of rightwing think tanks and other politically-active nonprofits.

News and Controversies

Ties to the Franklin News Foundation

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota founded Minnesota Watchdog. FFM was formerly listed as one of Franklin News Foundation's Statehouse News Bureaus and a former host for the organization's investigative reporters.[5]

Co-Sponsored 2009 International Conference for Climate Change Skeptics

In 2009, FFM was one of many rightwing nonprofit co-sponsors of the Heartland Institute/International Conference on Climate Change (2009), which was funded by over $47 million from energy companies and rightwing foundations.[6]

Ties to the State Policy Network

FFM is a member of the State Policy Network. SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of January 2021, SPN's membership totals 163. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million.[7] Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[8]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[9]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[10]

Core Financials

2018[11]

  • Total Revenue: $250,911
  • Total Expenses: $265,079
  • Net Assets: $25,138

2017[12]

  • Total Revenue: $362,987
  • Total Expenses: $364,627
  • Net Assets: $39,306

2016[13]

  • Total Revenue: $319,165
  • Total Expenses: $271,844
  • Net Assets: $40,946

2015[14]

  • Total Revenue: $350,628
  • Total Expenses: $358,769
  • Net Assets: -$6,375

2014[15]

  • Total Revenue: $349,335
  • Total Expenses: $373,622
  • Net Assets: $1,766

2013[16]

  • Total Revenue: $332,836
  • Total Expenses: $348,951
  • Net Assets: $26,053

2012[17]

  • Total Revenue: $406,234
  • Total Expenses: $368,220
  • Net Assets: $42,168

2010[18]

  • Total Revenue: $280,704
  • Total Expenses: $468,104
  • Net Assets: $5,932

2009[19]

  • Total Revenue: $549,963
  • Total Expenses: $335,375
  • Net Assets: $193,332

Funding

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota is not required to disclose its funders but major foundation supporters can be found through their IRS filings. Here are some known contributors:

Personnel

As of 2021, Annette Meeks is the only staff member listed on the organization's website.[4]

Staff

  • Annette Meeks, CEO

Former Staff

  • Jonathan Blake, Vice President
  • Tom Steward, Investigative Director

Board of Directors

As of November 2018:[11]

  • Dirk Bak, Chairman of the Board
  • Jack Meeks, Vice Chairman
  • Annette Meeks, CEO, Secretary, Treasurer
  • Brian Sullivan

Former Directors

  • Chris Georgacas
  • Steve Knuth
  • Kristin Ostrander
  • Tony Trimble
  • Vin Weber

Contact Information

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
Medical Arts Building
825 Nicollet Mall, Suite 815
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Web contact form: https://freedomfoundationofminnesota.com/contact/
Phone: 612-354-2160
Website: http://freedomfoundationofminnesota.com
Email: info@freedomfoundationofminnesota.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/FreedomFoundationMN Twitter:https://twitter.com/FreedomMN
Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/user/freedomfoundationmn

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

Related PRWatch Articles

References

  1. Guidestar, "The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota", organizational website, accessed February 1, 2021.
  2. Heartland Institute, "International Conference on Climate Change: Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?", March 8-10, 2009, page 32.
  3. Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Who's in Charge: How Nationalized Corporate-Run Think Tanks Influence Minnesota Politics, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, About - Staff, organizational website, accessed February 1, 2021.
  5. Statehouse News Bureaus, SourceWatch, accessed February 1, 2021
  6. DeSmog, "Heartland Institute's 2009 Climate Conference in New York: funding history of the sponsors", organizational website, accessed February 1, 2021.
  7. David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  8. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  9. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  10. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, 2018 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 8, 2019, accessed February 1, 2021.
  12. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, IRS Form 2017 990, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, October 16, 2018.
  13. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, IRS Form 2016 990, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, October 9, 2017.
  14. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, IRS Form 2015 990, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, August 9, 2016.
  15. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, IRS Form 2014 990, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, August 6, 2015.
  16. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, IRS Form 2013 990, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, August 15, 2014.
  17. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, IRS Form 2012 990, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, November 15, 2013.
  18. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
  19. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.