Bill Wilson (activist)

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For other people named Bill Wilson, see Bill Wilson (disambiguation).
Bill Wilson
Born 1953 (age 60–61)
Nationality American
Citizenship American
Education U. Delaware[1]
Occupation Activist for small government
Years active 34[citation needed]
Employer Americans for Limited Government
Home town Maryland[1]
Political party
Americans for Limited Government

Bill Wilson, a Maryland native born in 1953, is a limited government activist, referred to by one New York Times article as, “a member of Washington’s permanent class of ideological activists.” Wilson currently presides as the president of Americans for Limited Government; a Virginia based non-profit group promoting small government. He has been active in the limited government movement for more than 30 years, working with various groups pushing right-to-work laws, term limits and school choice.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Bill Wilson grew up in a military household, in rural Maryland. It is there that Wilson was first taught to believe in limited government, and has been cited saying “I was raised to believe and have always believed that small government is best.” He would go on to graduate from the University of Delaware in 1975 earning a degree in Political Science. His career in the field of politics began shortly thereafter when he worked on Ronald Reagan’s campaign during the 1976 Delaware primary as a Youth Coordinator.[1][2] He currently resides in Fairfax Virginia with his wife Tessie whom he has two grown children.[3]

Political career[edit]

Wilson’s political career began in 1976 as a youth director for the Reagan for President Campaign in Maryland and southeast Pennsylvania. Later that year he began working for the National Right to Work Committee, as an organizer in several western states. Over the next 10 years Wilson continued to work for the National Right to Work Committee where he achieved the position of Vice-President of Operations, and lobbied to enact Idaho’s Right to Work Law in 1986.[1][3]

In 1992 Wilson met Howard Rich, a successful New York real estate investor, and like-minded political activist. In 1994 Wilson joined U.S Term Limits as a managerial adviser overseeing various projects and initiative campaigns. Together Wilson and Rich worked on in various organizations promoting their views including Parents in Charge and Americans for Limited government. As a founding board member Wilson served on the Executive Committee from 1996 to 2006 when he assumed the role of president.[1][3]

These organizations have been labeled as libertarian and conservative and antigovernment but Wilson shuns labels and sees his basic goal of "rolling back the government."[1] He was quoted as saying "I was raised to believe and have always believed that small government is best."[1]

Americans for Limited Government is a 501(3c) non-profit based in Virginia. As September 2009, it had 18 staff members and a budget of approximately four million dollars ($4,000,000). One of the primary functions of the organization is research. For example, the organization sees Barack Obama as advocating a greater role for government because of administration policies regarding health care, cap and trade, and as a result, Americans for Limited Government studies these choices. Wilson told a reporter: "Obama has so heightened the debate over the proper role of government that it’s inspired a lot of people to get involved."[1]

Americans for Limited Government’s focus has been establishing its online presence through new media resources. In 2007, with help from his children, Wilson began cultivating their internet presence with and later their blog[3][4] In 2009 the group was featured on hundreds of websites with many of their “prolific opposition research” showcased in many anti-Obama efforts.[1] On April 20, 2012 FreeMarket America, a project of Americans for Limited Government,[5] premiered “If I wanted America to Fail,” on YouTube. As of April 26 the video has over 700,000 views and has been embedded on, and [6]

Americans for Limited Government has criticized "the president, his programs, his aides, his allies and his nominees without restraint."[1] The emails provide ammunition for conservative blogs, radio hosts, pundits, Congressional aides and small-town newspaper columnists.[1] The attacks can be extreme; for example, one email described Obama as "the biggest liar of all."[1] But Wilson explained the attacks have to be extreme to cut through the "political cacophony"; he said "I’m going to make it in a provocative manner, because that’s how it attracts attention."[1] The group hired a cartoonist to caricature opponents.[7]

Controversy and criticism[edit]

Americans for Limited Government has been criticized by some on the basis that it "cloaks the identity and number of financial supporters".[8] Advocacy groups are tax exempt and are not required to reveal donors.[8] In 2006, a reporter wrote: "The intricate financial web is the source of nearly all the money used to promote Proposition 90, an initiative on the November ballot aimed in part at curbing the power of government to seize private property."[8] On the other hand, there is evidence that organization spokespersons have identified Howard Rich as the primary donor.[9] [10] In the aftermath of the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision, activists have advocated for private property rights in states.[10] Howard Rich has been quoted as saying: "It's about one of the core freedoms that our country was built on ... People work very hard to own a small business, a home or property. The government is there to protect the right to that property, not to take it away."[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Scott Shane (September 25, 2009). "A Critic Finds Obama Policies a Perfect Target". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-21. "It is the weekly research meeting at Americans for Limited Government, and Bill Wilson is presiding with gusto. The Obama administration is serving up so many rich targets that Mr. Wilson and his crew of young conservatives hardly know where to begin." 
  2. ^ "A Loud Voice for Small Government". UD Messenger 18 (2): 48. August 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Contributor Bill Wilson". Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ SHERYL GAY STOLBERG (February 27, 2009). "Conservatives Ponder Way Out of Wilderness". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-15. "And a young cartoonist, William Warren of the advocacy group Americans for Limited Government, displayed his latest work, a lampoon of the iconic Obama campaign poster." 
  8. ^ a b c Patrick Hoge (2006-10-05). "Mogul's network bankrolls Prop. 90 / Web of advocacy groups funnels millions to pass property rights initiative". San Francisco Chronicle ( Retrieved 2009-11-15. "Donations included: -- $1 million from Americans for Limited Government, a tax-exempt advocacy group that Rich runs. The group's stated purpose is to promote smaller government, according to tax documents." 
  9. ^ Ray Ring (August 20, 2006). "California's stealth initiative on land use". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-11-15. "Following the money trail, an additional $600,000 of Prop. 90's war chest came from a Montana group whose supporters include a Chicago-area Libertarian group called Americans for Limited Government, where Rich is chairman of the board of directors" 
  10. ^ a b WILLIAM YARDLEY (October 8, 2006). "Anger Drives Property Rights Measures". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-15. "'We are essentially a ‘networking station’ that brings together grass-roots activists, donors and community leaders who share a common interest,' John Tillman, president of Americans for Limited Government, said in an e-mail message." 
  11. ^ Martin Kasindorf (2006-09-24). "Voters get a say on land rights". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2009-11-15. "The groups, Americans for Limited Government and the Fund for Democracy, have donated $4 million to ballot drives in eight states." 

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