According to leaked documents, FreedomWorks, the unofficial fundraising arm of the Tea Party, is allocating a hefty portion of its ‘war chest’ to push anti-union initiatives in 2013. Pledging to “push back against domineering unions,” FreedomWorks has announced a new “Save the States” campaign that pushes a 5-point agenda, 4 of which are anti-union in nature.
FreedomWorks want state legislatures to push an agenda full of “Right-to-Work,” Paycheck deception, so-called school choice initiatives, and burdensome pension reform according to the documents attained by PR Watch.
Freedomworks has proven to be a successful fundraising machine and promoter of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) controversial policies which experienced a severe backlash in ballot initiatives across the United States during the November election. With their renewed anti-union push the idea is essentially to defund and kneecap unions while bolstering right-wing funding, thus tilting the political conversation.
FreedomWorks does not appear to be alone in its push. David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity also appears to be publicly prioritizing anti-union advocacy, for example calling for right to work in Wisconsin. AFP reported spending $39 million on the 2012 elections (and at least $10 million defending Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during his recall), but as a nonprofit its primary purpose cannot be electoral. Its lobbying and advocacy on anti-union initiatives could be one way to try and justify its nonprofit “social welfare” status.
The tax exempt non-profit status of FreedomWorks and other “dark money” groups has long been questioned. Now, the specifics of how FreedomWorks is moving its money around appears to be garnering some eyeballs:
Federal law requires a group like FreedomWorks to have segregated accounting for its Super PAC, charitable, and nonprofit wings. But [FreedomWorks President] Kibbe reported to the board a single $42 million in “consolidated” revenue for 2012, combining funds raised by the FreedomWorks for America Super PAC, the 501(c)(3) charity Freedomworks Foundation, and the 501(c)(4) Freedomworks, Inc. (The group has also shifted millions between its 501(c)(4) and Super PAC in 2012, effectively hiding the identity of the true donor).
FreedomWorks is built for longevity based on their tax-exempt status therefore the only way FreedomWorks can be defeated is by serious campaign finance reform.
“The difference between us and other Super PACs is our commitment to building a machine that outlives any election, won or lost,” wrote Kibbe in a “President’s Report” to the FreedomWorks Board of Directors.