From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Formation2004; 20 years ago (2004)[1]
Legal status501(c)(4)
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
President & CEO
Adam Brandon[2]
Parent organization
Citizens for a Sound Economy
AffiliationsFreedomWorks for America,
FreedomWorks Foundation

FreedomWorks is a conservative and libertarian advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. FreedomWorks trains volunteers, assists in campaigns, and encourages them to mobilize, interacting with both fellow citizens and their political representatives. It was widely associated with the Tea Party movement[3][4][5][6] before firmly aligning with Donald Trump.[7] The Koch brothers were once a source of the organization's funding.[6]


FreedomWorks originated from a conservative political group founded by the brothers David H. Koch and Charles Koch, and called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). In 2004 CSE 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.[8][failed verification] 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.[9][10] Empower America had been founded in 1993 by Bennett, former Secretary of HUD Kemp, former Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, and former Representative Vin Weber.[11] In December 2006, Steve Forbes joined the FreedomWorks board of directors.[12]

The FreedomWorks name was derived from Armey saying: Freedom works. Freedom is good policy and good politics."[13]

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. In 2010, 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."[14]

On November 30, 2012, Armey resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks. 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, fundraising materials, and social media."[15] 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.[16] 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.[17][18]

Shortly following the split between FreedomWorks and Dick Armey, FreedomWorks again faced public controversy over its creation of a video featuring a giant panda-costumed intern pretending to perform cunnilingus upon another person wearing a Hillary Clinton mask.[19] Its video was reported to be intended for showing at a conservative conference featuring Glenn Beck.

FreedomWorks is an associate member of the Koch-funded State Policy Network, a U.S. national network of free-market oriented think tanks.[20] In 2009, Mother Jones listed FreedomWorks as a significant climate change denier.[21]

In March of 2023, FreedomWorks had to lay off 40% of its 50 staff, including its executive vice president, Noah Wall.[22]


Together with Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks played an important role in generating a significant part of the Tea Party movement and encouraging it to lay a focus on climate change denial.[23] 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.[4] Three national conservative groups, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and DontGo led the tea party movement in April 2009, according to The Atlantic magazine.[4] FreedomWorks was a lead organizer of the September 12, 2009, Taxpayer March on Washington, also known as the 9/12 Tea Party.[8][24][25][26] In February 2010, FreedomWorks, the FreedomWorks Foundation, and the FreedomWorks Political Action Committee were among the twelve most influential groups in the Tea Party movement, according to the National Journal.[27] In September 2010, FreedomWorks was one of the top five most influential organizations in the Tea Party movement, according to The Washington Post.[28] In 2009, FreedomWorks advocated for the defeat of Democratic-sponsored climate change legislation.[29] In 2010, FreedomWorks helped organize Tea Party protests and passed fliers opposing national climate policy.[30] FreedomWorks promoted the Contract from America, a Tea Party manifesto, which included planks in opposition to the Obama administration's initiatives on health care reform and cap and trade.[31][5] FreedomWorks sponsored campaigns to block climate legislation as well as Obama's broader agenda.[32]

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,[33] Frédéric Bastiat and Ayn Rand.[3] Rolling Stone and Talking Points Memo allege that FreedomWorks helps run the Tea Party Patriots.[34][35] Tea Party Patriots denies this claim.[36] According to a 2010 article in The New York Times, FreedomWorks "has done more than any other organization to build the Tea Party movement".[3]

In the 2010 congressional elections, FreedomWorks endorsed a number of candidates, including Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul.[37] In addition to the aforementioned United States Senate candidates, FreedomWorks endorsed 114 candidates for federal office, of whom seventy won election.[38] 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 election.[39]

In 2011, FreedomWorks ran a number of campaigns targeted at corporate rent-seeking behavior. 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.[40]

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.[41] 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.[42]

In 2011, FreedomWorks launched a Super PAC called FreedomWorks for America.[43] 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".[43] Its endorsed candidates included Don Stenberg, Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, and Richard Mourdock.[44]

In February 2013, FreedomWorks signed onto a memo which said, "Conservatives should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare."[45] 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."[46] 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."[46] Withrow wrote, "Support for the Cruz/Graves bills is absolutely meaningless without also signing the Lee/Meadows letter."[46]

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.[47] This was the first time FreedomWorks took an official stance on foreign policy.[48]

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.[49]

Some of FreedomWorks' campaigns have been called "astroturfing", and some claim that they project a false impression of grassroots organizing.[50][51][52]

During the 2020 election campaign, FreedomWorks pushed false and misleading claims about mail-in-voting, targeting ad campaigns on swing states with high concentrations of minority voters.[7] In its ads which suggested that vote-by-mail was not safe for voters, FreedomWorks posted an image of NBA basketball player LeBron James, misquoting him to make it seem as if he was against vote-by-mail.[7]

Legislation supported[edit]

FreedomWorks supported the Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826; 113th Congress), which was into the House on January 9, 2014.[53][54] The bill would repeal a pending rule published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on January 8, 2014.[55] The proposed rule would establish uniform national limits on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new electricity-generating facilities that use coal or natural gas.[55][56] The rule also sets new standards of performance for those power plants, including the requirement to install carbon capture and sequestration technology.[55] In a blog post, then 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".[54] Kibbe argued that the EPA's proposed rule was "an obvious backdoor attempt to effectively outlaw coal" because the standards were set "well below the emissions levels achieved by even the most advanced coal facilities".[54]

FreedomWorks supports the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015, REDEEM Act,[57] and Email Privacy Act.[58] FreedomWorks opposes net neutrality regulation.[59]


According to John Broder of The New York Times, FreedomWorks has been supported by the oil industry.[30] According to the liberal advocacy group Common Cause, FreedomWorks has also received funding from Verizon and SBC (now AT&T).[60] Other FreedomWorks donors have included Richard J. Stephenson, Philip Morris and foundations controlled by the Scaife family, according to tax filings and other records.[61][62] FreedomWorks also receives funding through the sale of insurance policies through which policyholders automatically become members of FreedomWorks.[63] In 2012, FreedomWorks had revenue of $15 million, with nearly 60% coming from four donors.[64] In 2012, $12 million in donations from William S. Rose (via two of his companies) were scrutinized by some members of the media. Watchdog groups asked for investigations of the donations, alleging that the companies were created merely to hide the identity of contributors.[65][66]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Skocpol, Theda; Williamson, Vanessa (2012). The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. Oxford University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-19-991283-4.
  2. ^ "Staff". FreedomWorks. October 15, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Shaping Tea Party Passion Into Campaign Force, Kate Zernike, The New York Times, August 25, 2010
  4. ^ a b c Good, Chris (April 13, 2009). "The Tea Party Movement: Who's In Charge?". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Jacobs, Lawrence; Skocpol, Theda (January 7, 2016). "Health Care Reform and American Politics". Oxford University Press: 193. doi:10.1093/wentk/9780190262037.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-026203-7. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ a b The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. August 1, 2016. pp. 9–10, 108–109. ISBN 978-0-19-063366-0.
  7. ^ a b c "Disinformation campaign stokes fears about mail voting, using LeBron James image and boosted by Trump-aligned group". The Washington Post. 2020.
  8. ^ a b Pilkington, Ed (September 18, 2009). "Republicans steal Barack Obama's internet campaigning tricks". The Guardian. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "". July 25, 2004. Archived from the original on July 25, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  10. ^ "Board of Directors". FreedomWorks. October 15, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  11. ^ "Empower America – Profile – Right Web – Institute for Policy Studies". Archived from the original on December 29, 2005. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  12. ^ "Board of Directors". Freedomworks. October 15, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  13. ^ Dick Armey (January 8, 2003). "Citizen Armey". The Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ "Armey leaves firm amid health care flap – David Mark". Politico. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  15. ^ Corn, David; Kroll, Andy (December 3, 2012). "Exclusive: Dick Armey Quits Tea Party Group in Split Over Direction". Mother Jones. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  16. ^ Vogel, Kenneth (December 4, 2012). "Inside the Dick Armey, FreedomWorks split". Politico. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  17. ^ Gillum, Jack; Braun, Stephen (December 4, 2012). "Tea Party group chief quits, cites internal split". Associated Press. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  18. ^ Amy Gardner (December 25, 2012). "FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guard". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 29, 2012.
  19. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (February 14, 2013). "Tea-Party Interns Starred in Video of Hillary Clinton Having Sex With Panda". New York. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  20. ^ Kopan, Tal (November 13, 2013). "Report: Think tanks tied to Kochs". Politico. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  21. ^ Harkinson, Josh (December 4, 2009). "The Dirty Dozen of Climate Change Denial". Mother Jones. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  22. ^ Oprysko, Caitlin; Lippman, Daniel (March 8, 2023). "FreedomWorks lays off 40 percent of staff". POLITICO. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  23. ^ Riley E. Dunlap, Aaron M. McCright: Organized Climate Change Denial. In: John S. Dryzek, Richard B. Norgaard, David Schlosberg (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford University Press, 2011, pp 144–160, p. 154.
  24. ^ Brown, Emma; Hohmann, James; Bacon, Perry (September 13, 2009). "Lashing Out at the Capitol: Tens of Thousands Protest Obama Initiatives and Government Spending". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  25. ^ Pilkington, Ed (September 13, 2009). "Barack Obama denounced by rightwing marchers in Washington". The Guardian. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  26. ^ Isenstadt, Alex (September 12, 2009). "'Freedom fighters' take a stand in D.C." Politico. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  27. ^ Snow Hopkins, Christopher; Mahanta, Siddhartha; Poulson, Theresa (February 4, 2010). "12 Tea Party Players To Watch". National Journal. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  28. ^ "The top national players in the tea party". The Washington Post. September 26, 2010. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  29. ^ Eggen, Dan; Rucker, Philip (August 16, 2009). "Conservative Mainstays and Fledgling Advocacy Groups Drive Health-Reform Opposition". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  30. ^ a b Broder, John (October 20, 2010). "Climate Change Doubt Is Tea Party Article of Faith". The New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  31. ^ Armey, Dick; Kibbe, Matt (August 17, 2010). "A Tea Party Manifesto". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  32. ^ Dunlap, Riley E.; Brulle, Robert J. (2015). Climate Change and Society: Sociological Perspectives. Oxford University Press. p. 315. ISBN 978-0-19-935611-9.
  33. ^ David Weigel (August 11, 2009). "Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text". The Washington Independent. Archived from the original on October 18, 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  34. ^ "FreedomWorks Says Jump, Tea Partiers Ask How High". TPM.
  35. ^ Dickinson, Tim (September 23, 2009). "The Lie Machine". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 28, 2009.
  36. ^ Fang, Lee. "Pressed On FreedomWorks' Connections To Tea Parties, Dick Armey Lashes Out At TP As 'Juvenile Delinquents'". Think Progress. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
  37. ^ "A Tea-Party Target List? FreedomWorks Releases Its Races For 2010 – Politics". The Atlantic. January 25, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  38. ^ "Tea party endorsement overlap". The Washington Post.
  39. ^ Karpowitz, Christopher F.; Monson, J. Quin; Patterson, Kelly D.; Pope, Jeremy C. (April 8, 2011). "Tea Time in America? The Impact of the Tea Party Movement on the 2010 Midterm Elections" (PDF). PS: Political Science & Politics. 44 (2): 303–309. doi:10.1017/S1049096511000138. S2CID 154650467. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 19, 2012.
  40. ^ "Protesters descend on Duke Energy meeting". Charlotte Business Journal. May 5, 2011.
  41. ^ "Conservative TV & Radio Ads Target Vance, Yaw". PoliticsPA.
  42. ^ "Kasich to rally state issue supporters". Retrieved November 1, 2011.[dead link]
  43. ^ a b "Log in – FreedomConnector". FreedomWorks. Archived from the original on January 29, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  44. ^ [1] Archived January 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ Burgess Everett (September 5, 2013). "FreedomWorks to fight Syria resolution". Politico.
  48. ^ "Year in Review".
  49. ^ "Paul sues Obama over NSA spying". The Hill. February 12, 2014.
  50. ^ Phillips, Michael M. (May 16, 2008). "Mortgage Bailout Infuriates Tenants (And Steve Forbes)". The Wall Street Journal.
  51. ^ Krugman, Paul (April 13, 2009). "Tea Parties Forever". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  52. ^ "Big Money Backs Renders' Campaign". NPR. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  53. ^ "H.R. 3826 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  54. ^ a b c Kibbe, Matt (January 28, 2014). "Tell Your Representative/Senators to Support the Electricity Security and Affordability Act". FreedomWorks. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  55. ^ a b c "CBO – H.R. 3826". Congressional Budget Office. February 12, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  56. ^ Kasperowicz, Pete (March 6, 2014). "House votes to block EPA regs on coal-fired electricity plants". The Hill. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  57. ^ Reader, Mallory (June 11, 2015). "Here are three conservative bills the House Judiciary Committee's justice reform initiative should consider". FreedomWorks. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  58. ^ "Support The Email Privacy Act – Freedomworks Action Center – D7 Staging". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  59. ^ Coopersmith, Wesley (July 16, 2012). "Net Neutrality: Goes Global". FreedomWorks. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  60. ^ [2] Archived November 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  61. ^ Dan Eggen and Philip Rucker, Loose Network of Activists Drives Reform Opposition The Washington Post, August 16, 2009
  62. ^ Ed Pilkington, Republicans steal Barack Obama's internet campaigning tricks The Guardian, September 20, 2009
  63. ^ "With Insurance Policy Comes Membership". The Washington Post.
  64. ^ Maguire, Robert (October 24, 2013). "More than Kochs, Small Donors Fueled Heritage Action in 2012". OpenSecrets. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  65. ^ Schouten, Fredreka (December 20, 2012). "Watchdog groups ask for probe of super PAC donations". USA Today. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  66. ^ Gillum, Jack (December 8, 2012). "Shadowy donor behind record 'super' PAC checks". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 28, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2013.

External links[edit]