Bader Family Foundation

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The Bader Family Foundation (BFF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that describes itself as being concerned with civil rights and free speech issues. BFF funds organizations that advocate around a number of right-wing issues, including campus free speech, federal bureaucracy, science policy, and conservative censorship. The Foundation provides grant funding to a number of conservative and hard-right organizations. Recipients include think-tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, and the Cato Institute as well as legal aid funds for conservative organizations.

News and Controversies

Legal Activity

Hans F. Bader, an attorney and sole trustee of the Bader Family Foundation, engages in most of the Foundation’s legal activities. Bader, a former Senior Attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute — to which the BFF regularly gifts large funds — worked in the Trump administration’s U.S. Department of Education as an advisor attorney.[1] Bader also worked as Senior Counsel at the Center for Individual Rights, another regular BFF grant recipient, and in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights during the George W. Bush administration. While a law student at Harvard, Bader opposed a proposed hate speech ban, calling the guidelines “too vague in terms of words and language” and “viewpoint-based.”[2]

In 2010, Bader served as co-counsel to the plaintiff in the successful Supreme Court case Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board — related to the federal separation of powers — and has also submitted amicus curiae in other Supreme Court cases.[3]

Hans Bader’s relationship to later CEI president Lawson Bader is unclear.

FOIA Lawsuits

The Bader Family Foundation has filed a number of federal lawsuits over unresponsive open records requests, which the Foundation alleges improperly went unfulfilled. According to The FOIA Project, which tracks federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, the Bader Family Foundation has sued federal agencies over FOIA requests 13 times since 2021, including the U.S. Departments of State, Education, Agriculture, Small Business Administration, Health and Human Services, as well as the Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.[4] These records requests usually presume federal collusion on “woke” subjects, such as critical race theory, discrimination against white people, and anti-charter grant funding.

For example, in 2021 the Foundation sued the U.S. Department of Education for records relating to the teaching of critical race theory in history classes.[5]

In April 2023, the Foundation sued the U.S. Departments of Education (D.O.E.) and Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) over unresponsive FOIA requests. In the D.O.E. case, the Foundation sought records regarding presumed collusion by Deputy Assistant Secretary Ruth Ryder and other Department officials in preventing charter schools’ access to grant funds.[6] The allegation that the D.O.E. is inhibiting charter schools’ access to federal funding is the subject of other conservative litigation, including a lawsuit by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which was reported by the pro-charter Mackinac Center’s publication.[7]

In the U.S.D.A. case, the Foundation was in search of presumed internal U.S.D.A. records which would reveal that the department had discriminated against white farmers.[8]

When the Foundation receives responsive requests, it posts them and commentary on its related blog, Liberty Unyielding. Bader regularly cites the blog’s readership as evidence that the records will reach the public and render a public good.

Amicus Briefs

The BFF has filed amicus briefs on lawsuits concerning a number of conservative issues. For example, in 2022 the BFF joined the Manhattan Institute to file an amicus brief arguing that a Pennsylvania law prohibiting an attorney from knowingly engaging “in conduct constituting harassment or discrimination” was an unconstitutional attack on free speech and “enforces a rigid ideological orthodoxy.”[9] Since 2014, the Manhattan Institute has been a regular recipient of Bader Family Foundation grants.

Liberty Unyielding Blog

Hans Bader runs the Liberty Unyielding blog, which publishes conservative commentary on a number of social and policy issues. Regular contributors include Hans Bader, conservative cartoonist A.F. Branco, and syndicated articles from the Daily Caller. Its articles are frequently reprinted or cited by other conservative news sites, including the National Review, Reason Magazine, the Washington Times, and the Center Square.

Grants Distributed

The Bader Family Foundation made over $31 million in contributions to various organizations between 2009 and 2021, as disclosed on their IRS filings. Listed below are the grant recipients.

2021
As reported on its 2021 IRS 990 Filing:[10]

2020
As reported on its 2020 IRS 990 Filing:[11]

2019
As reported on its 2019 IRS 990 Filing:[12]

2018
As reported on its 2018 IRS 990 Filing:[13]

2017
As reported on its 2017 IRS 990 Filing:[14]

2016
As reported on its 2016 IRS 990 Filing:[15]

2015
As reported on its 2015 IRS 990 Filing:[16]

2014
As reported on its 2014 IRS 990 Filing:[17]

2013
As reported on its 2013 IRS 990 Filing:[18]

2012
As reported on its 2012 IRS 990 Filing:[19]

2011
As reported on its 2011 IRS 990 Filing:[20]

2010
As reported on its 2010 IRS 990 Filing:[21]

2009
As reported on its 2010 IRS 990 Filing, no grants were made available that year.[22]

Core Financials

As reported on the Bader Family Foundation IRS 990 filings:
2021[10]

  • Total Revenue: $3,180,405
  • Total Expenses: $5,308,119
  • Net Assets: $77,204,301

2020[11]

  • Total Revenue: ($2,289,239)
  • Total Expenses: $4,832,434
  • Net Assets: $79,332,015

2019[12]

  • Total Revenue: $1,789,199
  • Total Expenses: $4,626,819
  • Net Assets: $86,453,688

2018[13]

  • Total Revenue: $2,976,565
  • Total Expenses: $3,638,058
  • Net Assets: $86,888,990

2017[14]

  • Total Revenue: $26,561,954
  • Total Expenses: $2,983,127
  • Net Assets: $85,357,611

2016[15]

  • Total Revenue: $13,173,280
  • Total Expenses: $2,626,115
  • Net Assets: $63,971,657

2015[16]

  • Total Revenue: $7,283,965
  • Total Expenses: $2,700,658
  • Net Assets: $53,402,287

2014[17]

  • Total Revenue: $2,776,440
  • Total Expenses: $2,360,622
  • Net Assets: $48,004,503

2013[18]

  • Total Revenue: $8,126,932
  • Total Expenses: $2,289,241
  • Net Assets: $49,300,872

2012[19]

  • Total Revenue: $14,897,381
  • Total Expenses: $747,043
  • Net Assets: $40,233,055

2011[20]

  • Total Revenue: $12,090,490
  • Total Expenses: $349,107
  • Net Assets: $26,267,188

2010[21]

  • Total Revenue: $14,331,148
  • Total Expenses: $824,390
  • Net Assets: $14,938,820

2009[22]

  • Total Revenue: $1,430,109
  • Total Expenses: $0
  • Net Assets: $1,430,109

Personnel

Trustees

  • Hans F. Bader, Trustee (2014 – present)

Former Trustees

  • Lars Bader (2009 – 2013)

Contact Information

Bader Family Foundation
1236 N. Stafford St.
Arlington, VA 22201

Accountant:
℅ Frankel Loughran Starr & Vallone LLP
1475 Franklin Ave.
Garden City, NY 11530
(516) 874-8800

Resources and Articles

IRS Form 990 Filings

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

References

  1. ProPublica’s Trump Town, Hans Bader, ProPublica, Accessed June 15, 2023.
  2. Ishaan Seth, Law Students Criticize Policy on Hate, Harvard Crimson, March 22, 1994.
  3. Hans Bader, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Amicus Curiae Brief in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, Competitive Enterprise Institute Website, Accessed June 15, 2023.
  4. The FOIA Project Case Search, The FOIA Project, Accessed June 15, 2023.
  5. Bader Family Foundation v. United States Department of Education, Case Number 1:2021cv02086, The FOIA Project, Accessed June 15, 2023.
  6. Bader Family Foundation v. United States Department of Education, Case Number 1:2023cv00950, The FOIA Project, Accessed June 15, 2023.
  7. James David Dickson, Michigan Charter Schools Allege Sneak Attack, Sue Feds Over Grants, Michigan Capitol Confidential, August 10, 2022.
  8. Bader Family Foundation V. United States Department of Agriculture, Case Number 1:2023cv00961, The FOIA Project​​, Accessed June 15, 2023.
  9. Ilya Shapiro, Amicus Brief: Greenberg v. Lehocky, Manhattan Institute Website, October 25, 2022.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2021 IRS 990 IRS Filing, ProPublica’s NonProfit Explorer, November 15, 2022.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2020 IRS 990 IRS Filing, organizational filing, November 15, 2021.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2019 IRS 990 IRS Filing, organizational filing, November 16, 2020.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2018 IRS 990 IRS Filing, organizational filing, November 13, 2019.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2017 IRS 990 IRS Filing, organizational filing, November 14, 2017.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2016 IRS 990 IRS Filing, organizational filing, November 15, 2017.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2015 IRS 990 IRS Filing, organizational filing, November 15, 2016.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2014 IRS 990 IRS Filing, Organizational Filing, August 4, 2015.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2013 IRS 990 IRS Filing, Organizational Filing, November 13, 2014.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2012 IRS 990 IRS Filing, Organizational Filing, August 13, 2013.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2011 IRS 990 IRS Filing, Organizational Filing, August 21, 2012.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2010 IRS 990 IRS Filing, Organizational Filing, June 30, 2011.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Bader Family Foundation, 2009 IRS 990 IRS Filing, ProPublica’s NonProfit Explorer, August 20, 2010.