Howard S. Rich
Howard S. Rich (born 1940) is a New York real estate developer  who founded and is President of U.S. Term Limits, which he established in 1992. He is Chairman of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). Rich has been a contributor to various libertarian organizations as well as a range of Republican candidates and groups.
A biographical note from the ALG website stated that "In 2000 he founded Legislative Education Action Drive (LEAD), which focuses on enacting school choice legislation across the country. He also serves as Chairman of Parents in Charge Foundation." Rich also "serves on the boards of various nonprofit organizations, including the Cato Institute, the Club for Growth and the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation." "In addition, Rich heads the Club for Growth State Action, which establishes and supports state affiliates of the Club for Growth across the nation, and the Fund for Democracy, which provides seed money to state initiative campaigns."
Rich is a New York real estate magnate who, for more than 30 years, "has steered millions of dollars toward the libertarian causes he has long championed, though he has managed to largely remain under the political radar while doing so. The 66-year-old Republican, who goes by 'Howie, serves as chairman of Americans for Limited Government, a national coalition that works with local groups to 'protect property rights, stop out-of-control government spending, and hold judges accountable to the rule of law'," PBS NOW noted in a September 2006 biographical sketch.
"Organizations associated with Rich have funneled nearly $7 million into 2006 state initiatives aiming to limit government in 12 states, according to an investigation" published October 4, 2006, by The Oregonian, PBS wrote. "Rich has generally declined to reveal how much of the money comes from his personal wealth, and is not required by campaign finance laws to report how much he privately funds his various groups."
"Early in his career, Rich was active in the Libertarian Party and worked with other leaders of the party, such as powerful billionaire Charles Koch, to promote their small-government, free-market causes. But after an internal party dispute in 1983, Rich left the party and continued his activism with private groups and foundations. Rich also sits on the board of directors of the Cato Institute, an influential libertarian think tank founded and funded by Koch and based out of Washington, D.C."
"In 1990, Rich and his wife Andrea took over the Libertarian Review Foundation, renaming it the Center for Independent Thought. The Riches have also financially supported the libertarian magazine Reason," PBS wrote.
Leading Americans for Limited Government
Jane Mayer writes in Dark Money,
- "In 2006, a group created and run by Rich called Americans for Limited Government spent some $8 million promoting a variety of other ballot drives, including one that demanded that owners get compensated for the impact of land-use laws on their property. Supporters again claimed to have widespread grassroots support. But an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity revealed that in fact just three donors, none of them disclosed, accounted for 99 percent of the organization's funding. Despite the heavy spending, the fringe antigovernment measures were voted down almost everywhere.
- Soon afterward, the State of Illinois suspended Rich's group of its charitable license after it failed to supply required financial statements, and in 2006 the group shut down its Chicago headquarters. At this point, Americans for Limited Government moved to Fairfax, Virginia, where several other nonprofit organizations run by Rich were based. Back in Chicago, meanwhile, a new tax-exempt group sprang up at its former address, calling itself the Sam Adams Alliance."
Letter to Donors of "left wing organizations"
In late September 2008 Rich wrote a letter on Americans for Limited Government Foundation letterhead to donors to what he described as "left wing organizations". In it Rich referred obliquely to Tom Matzzie's Accountable America group which had written to supporters of conservative organizations and candidates warning of possible scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission.
"As a donor to one of more of these organizations and efforts, you have been able to engage in these activities without notice, operating in relative obscurity. I am writing to inform you that this will no longer be the case. Your name has been put in our database. we are monitoring all reports of a wide variety of leftists organizations. As your name appears in subsequent reports, it is our intent to publicize your involvement in your local community," Rich warned. The letter was also accompanied by a supporting memo from Frank M. Northam from the law firm Webster, Chamberlain & Bean.
Rich told NPR's Peter Overby that ALG was sending letters to donors as "if you're supporting a group that's into some illegal activity, that, you know, might not be good for you." For his part, Matzzie posted a blog note titled 
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- "Taking the Initiative," PBS NOW, September 22, 2006.
- Steve Contorno Budget battle hits airwaves, groups spend $620,000 on ads, Green Bay Press Gazette, March 9, 2011
- Howie Rich, "DeMint's Principled, Necessary Stand: Senator’s War Against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Part of a Broader Battle", Americans for Limited Government website, July 22nd, 2008.
- Center for Responsive Politics, "Howard Rich", OpenSecrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics website, accessed March 2009.
- "Howard S. Rich Chairman", Americans for Limited Government website, January 2008. (This page is no longer on the ALG website but is archived in the Internet Archive).
- Jane Mayer, [Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right], Jane Mayer, 2016.
- Howard Rich, Letter, undated but approx late September 2008.
- Frank M. Northam, "Memorandum: Heightening Awareness of Political Activity", September 22, 2008.
- Peter Overby, "If You Can't Join 'Em, Part 2", NPR, September 30, 2008.
- "Conservatives Mimic Accountable America", AccountableAmerica, September 30, 2008.
- Profile: Howard S. Rich, Americans for Limited Government. (Now archived in the Internet Archive)
Articles by Rich
- Howard Rich, "School-Choice Strategy", Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2007. (reprinted on the website of the Friedman Foundation).
- Howard Rich, "Opposing view: Americans favor term limits", Opinion, USA Today, October 10, 2008.
- Howard Rich, "Term limits bring fairness to government", Commercial Appeal Online, October 30, 2008.
Articles & Commentary
- "Taking the Initiative" (Introduction) PBS NOW, September 22, 2006.
- Maria Hinojosa and William Brangham, "Taking the Initiative (Program Transcript)", PBS NOW, September 22, 2006.
- Laura Oppenheimer, "Meet the money man behind Oregon's ballot measures", The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), October 13, 2006, page A12.
- Jeffrey Selingo, "Oregon Colleges Prepare for Spending Cap", The Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol. 53 No. 9, October 20, 2006, page 31.
- Rick Bella, "Germ of idea could spread to other cities", The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), October 24, 2007.
- "Taking the Initiative", NOW with Bill Moyers, PBS, September 22, 2006.
- Deroy Murdock, "Get Rich Quick", National Review online, December 11, 2006.
- Doug Bandow, "Real Term Limits: Now More Than Ever", Cato Institute, March 28, 1995.
- Center for Independent Thought, PolluterWatch, Greenpeace USA, accessed Nov. 12, 2020