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FreedomWorks Putting Its War Chest to Work for ALEC's Anti-Union Agenda in the States

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The Tea Party-affiliated group FreedomWorks --the right-wing organization that helps connect "Tea Party" groups with talking points, rallies, and more -- is gearing up to direct its sizeable war chest towards advancing anti-union initiatives in the state

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JL A (281)
Thursday January 17, 2013, 7:12 pm

PR Watch
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Home > FreedomWorks Putting Its War Chest to Work for ALECís Anti-Union Agenda in the States
FreedomWorks Putting Its War Chest to Work for ALECís Anti-Union Agenda in the States
by Brendan Fischer [1] ó January 14, 2013 - 7:57am
Topics: Democracy [2], Labor [3], Politics [4]
Projects: ALEC Exposed [5]
Share/Save Share this [6]

The Tea Party-affiliated group FreedomWorks -- the right-wing organization that helps connect "Tea Party" groups with talking points, rallies, and more -- is gearing up to direct its sizeable war chest towards advancing anti-union initiatives in the states, supporting an agenda set by groups like David Koch's Americans for Prosperity and the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This strongly suggests that the battle for the future of private and public sector unions in America is beginning a new phase of combat.

Matt KibbeMatt KibbeThis month, FreedomWorks announced [7] "an aggressive grassroots, state-based campaign" for 2013 to "push back against domineering unions," among other plans. The group has been in the midst of turmoil in recent months with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey abruptly resigning after the 2012 elections, in part because of concerns about the ethics of FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe. In the aftermath of President Barack Obama's strong showing in battleground states where union members turned out in large numbers against Mitt Romney, Kibbe is apparently prioritizing anti-union advocacy.

Unions have been under attack since the 2010 elections swept new Republican majorities into statehouses across the country. Starting in early 2011, states like Wisconsin and Ohio passed legislation to restrict collective bargaining rights for public sector employees (although Ohio citizens were able to reverse one of the most pernicious bills via referendum), and in late 2012, the Michigan legislature rushed a "right to work" bill into law during the lame duck session.

So-called right to work laws undermine collective bargaining by allowing some employees to free ride when the union uses the collective power of workers to negotiate wages, raises, and other benefits with managers. Under right to work laws, employees can get these benefits while opting-out of paying the costs, which groups like FreedomWorks have spun as "workplace freedom." [8] Much of the anti-union legislation introduced since the 2010 elections can be traced to "model" bills from ALEC, after legislators who attended the December 2010 ALEC meeting embraced the right to work agenda that had stalled decades earlier.

CMD identified how Michigan's right to work measure, for example, was almost identical to the ALEC model [9]. More recently, Progress Missouri described [10] how ALEC legislators in that state have introduced another right to work proposal that closely resembles the ALEC "model" Right to Work Act.

ALEC legislators have also been buoyed by support for these measures from groups like David Koch's Americans for Prosperity. After a number of Republicans were defeated in federal races, FreedomWorks now appears to have made anti-union legislation in the states a priority for 2013.
Leaked Documents Show Record Fundraising, Internal Coordination

As details about the power struggle within FreedomWorks emerged in December -- with a wealthy donor who secretly gave $12 million to the Freedomworks Super PAC buying Armey's silence [11] about Kibbe's ethical issues until after the election via an $8 million "consulting" contract - internal board documents [12] leaked to Mother Jones showed that $33 million of the $41 million raised by the group through mid-December came in the form of five-and six-figure checks, contradicting the notion that FreedomWorks is at its core a "grassroots" organization (even though it has been increasing its small-donor base).

FreedomWorks fundraisingGraph from FreedomWorks board document

According to the leaked documents, FreedomWorks' fundraising surged in 2012, largely thanks to the group's Super PAC, FreedomWorks for America, which raised $23 million [13].

Federal law requires a group like FreedomWorks to have segregated accounting for its Super PAC, charitable, and nonprofit wings. But 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 [14] between its 501(c)(4) and Super PAC in 2012, effectively hiding the identity of the true donor).

"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.
FreedomWorks to Use Funds to Attack Unions

FreedomWorks now intends to direct that war chest -- and that "machine" -- towards anti-union battles in the states.

Since the election, FreedomWorks has promoted a petition to "support Michigan Governor Rick Snyder" [15] in his anti-union push, published multiple [16] blogs [17] attacking unions [18], and released a study [19] purporting to show the benefits of "paycheck protection" legislation to defund unions in Pennsylvania.

In a January 6 message to the FreedomWorks email list [7], Kibbe announced a new "Save the States" campaign and linked to a website [20] where users could rank the issues FreedomWorks has identified as priorities -- like Right to Work [21], Paycheck Protection [22], "school choice" (which is presented as an anti-union initiative [23]), and reforming the supposedly "extravagant" pensions promised to unionized public sector employees [24].

Four out of the five issues in the FreedomWorks "Save the States" campaign are tied to weakening unions, either directly or indirectly.

As CMD has reported [25], attacks on unions are not only about expanding corporate profit margins at the expense of workers, but also about cutting-off a key funding stream for Democrats and progressive causes (even though the dues workers pay are separate from the funds provided for political activity). These efforts also limit the capacity of unions to get out the vote in support of candidates who protect worker's rights or against candidates who want to strip them away. By weakening a political opponent FreedomWorks can expand its own influence over elections.

FreedomWorks does not appear to be alone in its push. David Koch's Americans for Prosperity also appears to be publicly prioritizing anti-union [26] advocacy, for example calling for right to work [27] in Wisconsin. AFP reported spending $39 million on the 2012 elections (and at least $10 million [28] defending [29] 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 [30] its nonprofit "social welfare" status.

FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity both grew out of Citizens for a Strong Economy, a non-profit group founded by David Koch in the early 1980s. Koch Industries and philanthropies have been key funders of ALEC -- which has been instrumental in advancing anti-union laws around the country -- and AFP is an ALEC member along with Koch Industries and other groups funded by the Koch family fortune. The degree to which FreedomWorks is formally associated with ALEC is not known but its leaders have presented at ALEC meetings, and ALEC's Director of External Relations, Caitlyn Korb (who started her career as a Koch Summer Fellow [31]) has recently moved over to FreedomWorks.

This means there may be even bigger battles over labor rights in coming years than we have seen during the turmoil of 2011 and 2012 -- and the right-wing is backing the ALEC agenda big time, with big money.
Center for Media and Democracy ē 520 University Avenue, Suite 260 ē Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Phone: 608-260-9713 ē Fax: 608-260-9714
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. (0)
Saturday January 19, 2013, 8:41 am
Create a foundation; give it a fancy name and people in naÔve idealism and the tribe mentality to belong [hip and cool baby] will flock to it. It's what the Ford Foundation and every other foundation built by the likes of the Rockefellers et al count on. It's all a game wherein the lobbyists keep them rich; and these Luciferians acquire wealth and power. Everyone in the top ten percentile wins and the suffering and destitution of the common person is multiplied and magnified. It's very ugly people playing a sick game with other very ugly people and they think they are the chosen.
Why else do we live in a world where covetousness that is the origin of every negative emotion and action is glorified? Why else is materialism; violence and every other perversion glorified? The teachings gleaned from texts such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes or Buddhism don't necessarily require a literal god.
They are to teach us that if we desire to be divine then we must refocus our priorities and behaviors. Our essential needs are not met due to over industrialization; excessive world population; redistribution of others resources into and under the control of the few, IMF = Globalization = Mega Corps.; manufactured and sustained conflicts involving the world in perpetual undefined conflict. This is bad stewardship. This is thesis, antithesis and synthesis, the parameters of which are defined by people such as Rockefeller, Kissinger et al.
This is exactly what Maslow had in mind when he documented this in his Hierarchy of Needs which for most people are barely being met if at all in today's world. Monkey see, monkey do; meaning that the covetous desires of the needy if given the chance will by any means acquire the necessary materialistic items to emulate those in the media; or sitting on large estates for example - by any and all means necessary; in order for primary survival; then to acquire the material means necessary to be accepted at the top while perpetuating the vicious cycle as they lord it over those below them.
All conflicts and wars are economic in nature. Who has what; who wants it badly enough and who is willing to acquire the material possession by any means necessary. This has been human nature for at least the last 6,000+ years. It was certainly the root cause behind such actions as the Peloponnesian Wars. "God" may not play dice with the universe; but we certainly love to think we do.
The foundations have created a world in which the needs of 2/3s of the global population are barely getting by. These foundations may talk a green fight but if and only when it suits their needs. If they had followed people like Tesla and Dr. Ride back in 1932 the world we inhabit would certainly be a different place today.
Blake's admonishment of the road to enlightenment being achieved through excess for many has lead to a life of despair; sadness and destruction. Very few make it and for many who do they have sold their soul to the highest bidder in doing so. Perhaps Y'shua summed it up best when he allegedly said, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul? Take a good look at the eyes of those at the top and those who aspire to it. What do you see when you look closely? I see emptiness; shock; disbelief and pain - dead eyes.
To many physicists this world is an illusion just as it was to the Buddha. If so it is our belief; practice and participation in it that sustains it. Our real nature is sold for a handful of nothing in the end. One certainly needs a certain amount of material things to sustain our journey here; but it is the excesses of the few perpetuated and glorified by media and by our adulation that creates the illusion of Mammon being the desired goal.
Of course then there's Crowley's admission of Do What Thou Wilt which should come with the proviso that if you get caught, you're on your own. By whatever means the people at the top are served. This is what the Foundations count on. The Lobbyists are part and parcel of the process.

JL A (281)
Saturday January 19, 2013, 8:50 am
Thank you for you broad range analyses of various contexts and relationships and related moral and ethical issues related to this article Michael--much food for thought.You cannot currently send a star to Michael because you have done so within the last week.

irene davis (74)
Saturday January 19, 2013, 6:00 pm
Noted, thanks

JL A (281)
Saturday January 19, 2013, 6:01 pm
you're welcome Rene.
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