Free the People

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Free the People is a libertarian, Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2016 by Matt Kibbe and Terry Kibbe.[1]

The organization "specializes in video production, creative storytelling, and social media engagement" and plans to create "a community of people who believe in the values of freedom, entrepreneurship, individual responsibility, choice, and peaceful cooperation."[1]

Free the People is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a group of rightwing think tanks and other politically-active nonprofits.

News and Controversies

Co-Founders and Other Employees Connected to FreedomWorks

Several Free the People employees, including the organization's co-founders Matt and Terry Kibbe, formerly worked at FreedomWorks.[1]

Ties to the State Policy Network

Free the People is an associate 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.'"[4]

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.[5]

Funding

Free the People

  • Peterson Family Foundation: $1,000 (2017)
  • QXZ: $100,000 (2016)

Free the People Foundation

Core Financials

Free the People

2017[6]

  • Total Revenue: $1,771
  • Total Expenses: $18,303
  • Net Assets: $46,030

2016[7]

  • Total Revenue: $40,772
  • Total Expenses: $36,957
  • Net Assets: $62,562

2015[8]

  • Total Revenue: $107,097
  • Total Expenses: $48,350
  • Net Assets: $58,747

Free the People Foundation

2017[9]

  • Total Revenue: $1,180,425
  • Total Expenses: $1,204,433
  • Net Assets: $257,473

2016[10]

  • Total Revenue: $911,052
  • Total Expenses: $794,365
  • Net Assets: $281,110

2015[11]

  • Total Revenue: $692,154
  • Total Expenses: $527,899
  • Net Assets: $164,255

Personnel

Staff

As of 2021:[1]

  • Matt Kibbe, President And Chief Community Organizer; former President and CEO, FreedomWorks
  • Terry Kibbe, Chief Executive Officer; former Senior Advisor, FreedomWorks
  • Kara Pally, Chief Technology Officer; former Director of Web and Technology, FreedomWorks
  • Matt Battaglia, Executive Producer; former Creative Manager, FreedomWorks
  • Logan Albright, Head Writer And Sound Engineer; former Research Analyst, FreedomWorks
  • Sam Martin, Creative Director
  • Joel Davis, Social Media Coordinator
  • Meghan Garofolo, Executive Assistant

Board of Directors

As of 2017:[6]

Contact

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch

IRS Form 990 Filings

Free the People

2017

2016

2015

Free the People Foundation

2017

2016

2015

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Free the People, About, organizational website, accessed Febuary 4, 2021.
  2. David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  3. 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.
  4. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  5. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Free the People, 2017 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, September 4, 2019.
  7. Free the People, 2016 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, date censored.
  8. Free the People, 2015 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, September 5, 2017.
  9. Free the People Foundation, 2017 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, September 10, 2019.
  10. Free the People Foundation, 2016 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, date censored.
  11. Free the People Foundation, 2015 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, September 5, 2017.