FreedomWorks

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FreedomWorks
Freedomworks.png
Motto Lower Taxes. Less Government. More Freedom.[1]
Formation 2004[2]
Legal status 501(c)(4)
Headquarters Washington, DC
Membership over 1 million in 2010[3]
President Matt Kibbe [3]
Parent organization Citizens for a Sound Economy
Affiliations FreedomWorks for America,
FreedomWorks Foundation
Volunteers 600,000 online activists[3]
Website www.freedomworks.org

FreedomWorks is a conservative and libertarian lobbying group based in Washington D.C., United States. FreedomWorks trains volunteers, assists in campaigns, and encourages them to mobilize, interacting with both fellow citizens and their political representatives. It is widely associated with the Tea Party movement[4][5] and has been described as the movement's ideological "brain".[6]

History[edit]

FreedomWorks originated from a conservative political group funded by David H. Koch called Citizens for a Sound Economy, which in 2004 split into Americans for Prosperity, led by President Nancy Pfotenhauer, and a remainder group which merged with Empower America and was renamed FreedomWorks, led by President and CEO Matt Kibbe.[7] Dick Armey, Jack Kemp and C. Boyden Gray served as co-chairmen of the new organization with Bill Bennett focusing on school choice as a Senior Fellow.[8][9][needs update] Empower America had been founded in 1993 by Bennett, former Secretary of HUD Jack Kemp, former Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, and former Representative Vin Weber.[10] In December 2006, Steve Forbes joined the FreedomWorks board of directors.[11]

The ‘FreedomWorks’ name was derived from a common Armey saying: “Freedom works. Freedom is good policy and good politics.” [12]

On November 30, 2012, Armey resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks. Armey told Mother Jones, "The top management team of FreedomWorks was taking a direction I thought was unproductive, and I thought it was time to move on with my life." Armey stipulated that FreedomWorks was to immediately remove his name, image, or signature "from all its letters, print media, postings, web sites, videos, testimonials, endorsements, fund raising materials, and social media."[13] Armey claimed that the split was caused by President and CEO Matt Kibbe's use of FreedomWorks' resources to write a book, Hostile Takeover, which he personally profited from and which he asked Armey and the board to later acknowledge was written without significant resources from FreedomWorks; Kibbe alleged that the split was a result of competing visions for the direction of the organization.[14] The Associated Press reported that in September 2012, Armey agreed to resign by November 2012 in exchange for $8 million in consulting fees paid in annual $400,000 installments, funded by board member Richard J. Stephenson.[15][16]

Shortly following the split between FreedomWorks and Dick Armey, FreedomWorks again faced public controversy over the creation of a video featuring a panda fellating Hillary Clinton. The video was filmed with two female FreedomWorks employees in costume, one in a panda suit and one wearing a Hillary mask.[17]

Personnel[edit]

Matt Kibbe is the president and CEO of FreedomWorks. Kibbe's wife, Terry, is a fundraiser for FreedomWorks.[18]

Views[edit]

FreedomWorks seeks to identify itself with two schools of thought in terms of effective advertising and marketing: the Austrian School[not in citation given] of economics and public choice theory. Through public choice theory, FreedomWorks legitimizes its mission and models itself after the Austrian School.[19]

Kibbe, a former aide to Republican Representative Dan Miller and a former staffer at the Republican National Committee, said that the group "will encourage Republicans -- and Democrats -- to take positions on issues of individual freedom." Armey said that "Ronald Reagan launched a political and intellectual revolution, and the Contract with America expanded it. Today, it’s time for the next wave. We have a rare window to make the big ideas of individual ownership and economic opportunity a political reality for all Americans. That’s the purpose of FreedomWorks."[20]

Key issues[edit]

FreedomWorks views itself as having eight key issues: Budget and Spending; Health Care Reform; Fundamental Tax Reform, Energy and the Environment; Workplace Freedom; School Choice;[21] RedTape, Hidden Taxes, and Regulation, and Medicare, Social Security and Entitlement Reform.[22] According to the FreedomWorks website, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), is a "multi-trillion-dollar takeover of health care."[23]

Actions[edit]

In 2009, FreedomWorks responded to the growing number of Tea party protests across the United States, and became one of several groups active in the "Tea Party" tax protests.[5] Among other activities, FreedomWorks runs boot camps for supporters of Republican candidates. FreedomWorks spent over $10 million on the 2010 elections on campaign paraphernalia alone. The required reading list for new employees includes Saul Alinsky,[24] Frédéric Bastiat and Ayn Rand.[4] Rolling Stone and Talking Points Memo allege that FreedomWorks helps run the Tea Party Patriots.[25][26] Tea Party Patriots denies this claim.[27] According to a 2010 article in the New York Times, FreedomWorks "has done more than any other organization to build the Tea Party movement."[4]

In the 2010 congressional elections, FreedomWorks endorsed a number of candidates, including Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul.[28] In addition to the aforementioned United States Senate candidates, FreedomWorks endorsed 114 candidates for federal office, of whom seventy won election,[29] an independent study performed by Brigham Young University showed that only FreedomWorks's endorsement had a statistically significant impact on the success of a candidate in the General Election (U.S.).[clarification needed][30]

In 2011, FreedomWorks ran a number of campaigns targeted at corporate rent-seeking behavior. They campaigned against GE CEO Jeff Immelt who they argue has made GE a rent-seeking corporation.[31] FreedomWorks ran a campaign with the goal of getting Duke Energy to fire their CEO Jim Rodgers, accusing Duke Energy of lobbying for a “progressive agenda” to ensure that the company would receive green energy subsidies.[32]

In addition to their anti-rent seeking campaigns, FreedomWorks has also been active in a number of issue campaigns at the state and national levels. One of these campaigns is the school choice SB1 campaign in Pennsylvania.[33] Additionally, FreedomWorks ran an active grassroots campaign in support of Ohio Governor John Kasich's union reforms. FreedomWorks delivered thousands of yard signs, door-hangers, handouts, and registered conservative voters.[34]

In 2011, FreedomWorks launched a Super PAC called FreedomWorks for America.[35] The stated purpose of this PAC is to "empower the leaderless, decentralized community of the tea party movement as it continues its hostile takeover of the GOP establishment."[35] Its endorsed candidates included Don Stenberg, Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, and Richard Mourdock.[36]

In February 2013, FreedomWorks signed onto a memo which said "Conservatives should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare."[37] On August 14, 2013, Joshua Withrow of FreedomWorks mentioned the continuing resolution set to expire September 30 which "must be renewed in order for the doors to stay open in Washington. The CR is the best chance we will get to withdraw funds from ObamaCare. This can be done by attaching bills by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) or Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA) to the CR, which will totally defund ObamaCare."[38] Withrow also wrote "Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) are leading the charge to get their colleagues to commit to this approach, by putting their signatures to a letter affirming that they will refuse to vote for a CR that contains ObamaCare funding."[38] Withrow wrote, "Support for the Cruz/Graves bills is absolutely meaningless without also signing the Lee/Meadows letter."[38]

In September 2013, FreedomWorks opposed the legislation called Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons.[39] This was the first time FreedomWorks took an official stance on foreign policy.[40]

On February 12, 2014, FreedomWorks joined with Rand Paul as co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Obama Administration concerning reports of NSA domestic wiretapping. The lawsuit names President Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander. Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is representing Paul and FreedomWorks in the case. [41]

Legislation supported[edit]

Freedom Works supported the Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826; 113th Congress), which was into the House on January 9, 2014.[42][43] The bill would repeal a pending rule published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on January 8, 2014.[44] The proposed rule would establish uniform national limits on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new electricity-generating facilities that use coal or natural gas.[44][45] The rule also sets new standards of performance for those power plants, including the requirement to install carbon capture and sequestration technology.[44] In a blog post FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe said that the bill would go a "long way in curbing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) radical war on affordable and reliable energy from fossil fuels."[43] Kibbe argued that the EPA's proposed rule was "an obvious backdoor attempt to effectively outlaw coal" becaust the standards were set "well below the emissions levels achieved by even the most advanced coal facilities."[43]

Funding[edit]

FreedomWorks is primarily funded by individual donations. According to the progressive media watchdog group Media Matters for America, FreedomWorks has also received funding from Verizon and SBC (now AT&T).[46] Other FreedomWorks donors have included Philip Morris and foundations controlled by the Scaife family, according to tax filings and other records.[47][48] FreedomWorks also receives funding through the sale of insurance policies through which policyholders automatically become members of FreedomWorks.[49] In 2012, $12 million in donations from William S. Rose (via two of his companies) earned national notoriety. Watchdog groups asked for investigations of the donations, alleging that the companies were created merely to hide the identity of contributors.[50][51]

FreedomWorks is closely tied to its founder, corporate lobbyist and former Republican Congressman Dick Armey, whose former lobbying firm DLA Piper from which he resigned in August 2009, represents Bristol Myers Squibb, among other pharmaceutical companies.[52][53]

Criticism[edit]

Some of FreedomWorks' campaigns have been called "astroturfing", and some claim that they project a false impression of grassroots organizing.[54][55][56]

On August 14, 2009, after Armey's leadership of FreedomWorks became a problem to his employer, the lobbying and legal firm of DLA Piper, Armey was forced to resign from his job at DLA Piper. DLA Piper chairman Francis Burch responded that the firm serves clients “… who support enactment of effective health care reform this year and encourages responsible national debate."[52]

Armey disagreed with FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe's use of FreedomWorks staff for the research and promotion of Kibbe's book Hostile Takeover, which according to Armey put FreedomWorks’s tax-exempt status in jeopardy. Armey has stated, “what bothered me most … was that [Kibbe] was asking me to lie, and it was a lie that I thought brought the organization in harm’s way”.[57]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] FreedomWorks. Retrieved: 19 June 2012.
  2. ^ "SourceWatch Founding". 
  3. ^ a b c Clabough, Raven (August 1, 2010). Beck Closely Examines Tea Party Movement. The New American. 
  4. ^ a b c Shaping Tea Party Passion Into Campaign Force, Kate Zernike, The New York Times, August 25, 2010
  5. ^ a b "The Tea Party Movement: Who's In Charge?"
  6. ^ Neil, Andrew (1 November 2010). "Tea Party America". This World. BBC Two. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vv3pl.
  7. ^ Ed Pilkington, Republicans steal Barack Obama's internet campaigning tricks, The Guardian, September 18, 2009
  8. ^ Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) and Empower America Merge to Form FreedomWorks FreedomWorks press release
  9. ^ Board of Directors, FreedomWorks
  10. ^ Empower America RightWeb, April 17, 2008
  11. ^ FreedomWorks Board of Directors
  12. ^ ‘’Wall Street Journal’’, Citizen Armey, 1/8/2003
  13. ^ Corn, David; Kroll, Andy (12-3-2012). "Exclusive: Dick Armey Quits Tea Party Group in Split Over Direction". Mother Jones. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  14. ^ Vogel, Kenneth (December 4, 2012). "Inside the Dick Armey, FreedomWorks split". Politico. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  15. ^ Gillum, Jack; Braun, Stephen (12-4-2012). "Tea Party group chief quits, cites internal split". Associated Press. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  16. ^ FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guard
  17. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (February 14, 2013). "Tea-Party Interns Starred in Video of Hillary Clinton Having Sex With Panda". New York Magazine. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  18. ^ Marcus, Rachel (2012-04-19). "Tea party leader Dick Armey gets first-class treatment". Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  19. ^ CHAIRMAN DICK ARMEY SPEAKS ABOUT THE FALL OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AT THE CATO INSTITUTE
  20. ^ WISCONSIN CSE IS NOW FREEDOMWORKS
  21. ^ Freedomworks Issues School Choice
  22. ^ Freedomworks’ Issues
  23. ^ Issues: Health Care Reform FreedomWorks. Accessed: 21 June 2012.
  24. ^ David Weigel (August 11, 2009). "Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text". The Washington Independent. Retrieved 2010-10-31. 
  25. ^ FreedomWorks Says Jump, Tea Partiers Ask How High | TPMMuckraker
  26. ^ The Lie Machine : Rolling Stone
  27. ^ Fang, Lee. "Pressed On FreedomWorks’ Connections To Tea Parties, Dick Armey Lashes Out At TP As ‘Juvenile Delinquents’". Think Progress. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  28. ^ "A Tea-Party Target List? FreedomWorks Releases Its Races For 2010 - Politics - The Atlantic". Politics.theatlantic.com. 2010-01-25. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  29. ^ Tea Party Endorsement Overlap
  30. ^ Tea Time in America? The Impact of the Tea Party Movement on the 2010 Midterm Elections
  31. ^ Tea Party to take angst to GE shareholder meeting in Salt Lake City
  32. ^ Protesters descend on Duke Energy meeting
  33. ^ Conservative TV & Radio Ads Target Vance, Yaw
  34. ^ Kasich to Rally State Issue 2 Supporters
  35. ^ a b Freedomworks to Launch SuperPAC Freedomworks for America
  36. ^ Freedomworks Endorsements
  37. ^ Matt Kibbe (February 14, 2013). "Coalition Letter: Congress Must Honor Sequester Savings and Defund ObamaCare Before It Is Too Late". FreedomWorks. Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  38. ^ a b c Joshua Withrow (August 14, 2013). "Have Your Members of Congress Signed the "Defund ObamaCare" Letter? Find Out Here!". FreedomWorks. Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  39. ^ http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/freedomworks-syria-resolution-96352.html
  40. ^ http://yearreview.fwsites.org/
  41. ^ http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/198206-paul-sues-obama-to-halt-nsa-surveillance-of-phone-data
  42. ^ "H.R. 3826 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  43. ^ a b c Kibbe, Matt (28 January 2014). "Tell Your Representative/Senators to Support the Electricity Security and Affordability Act". FreedomWorks. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  44. ^ a b c "CBO - H.R. 3826". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  45. ^ Kasperowicz, Pete (6 March 2014). "House votes to block EPA regs on coal-fired electricity plants". The Hill. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  46. ^ Common Cause
  47. ^ Dan Eggen and Philip Rucker, Loose Network of Activists Drives Reform Opposition Washington Post, Aug 16 2009
  48. ^ Ed Pilkington, Republicans steal Barack Obama's internet campaigning tricks The Guardian, September 20, 2009
  49. ^ Washington Post, "With Insurance Policy Comes Membership," July 23, 2006
  50. ^ Schouten, Fredreka (20 December 2012). "Watchdog groups ask for probe of super PAC donations". USA Today. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  51. ^ Gillum, Jack (8 December 2012). "Shadowy donor behind record 'super' PAC checks". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  52. ^ a b http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0809/26128_Page2.html#ixzz0ODAQyqUy Politico, Armey leaves firm amid health care flap, Aug 14 2009
  53. ^ Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Democrats getting an earful,” Aug 6 2009
  54. ^ Phillips, Michael M. (May 16, 2008). "Mortgage Bailout Infuriates Tenants (And Steve Forbes)". Wall Street Journal. 
  55. ^ Krugman, Paul (April 13, 2009). "Tea Parties Forever". New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  56. ^ "Big Money Backs Renders' Campaign". NPR. 
  57. ^ Inside the Dick Armey, FreedomWorks split| politico.com| 2012/12

External links[edit]