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Tell New Seasons: Cut your financial ties with the Murdock Trust

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The Northwest Accountability Project and community partners are calling on New Seasons Market to cut its ties to the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, a foundation that has given millions of dollars to extremist causes that harm LGBTQ people, women, and workers.

The Portland-based grocery chain is majority-owned by private equity investors through funds managed by Endeavour Capital. The Murdock Trust has invested millions in those Endeavour Capital funds, including funds that recently owned a 69 percent interest in New Seasons.

New Seasons’ profits further enrich the Murdock Trust as they fund groups including:

  • The Alliance Defending Freedom, the anti-LGBTQ hate group that backed North Carolina’s anti-transgender “bathroom bill.”
  • The Portland Fellowship, the only organization in Oregon to offer gay conversion therapy, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Fellowship claims that same-sex attraction “stems from relational wounds and dysfunction.”
  • The Freedom Foundation, an extremist organization that has launched an all-out assault on working families in Oregon and Washington state. The Freedom Foundation is also funded by out-of-state billionaires who want to keep wages low, eliminate paid sick leave, and slash crucial funding for quality education.
  • Several anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” throughout the Northwest. Crisis pregnancy centers are known to masquerade as licensed medical facilities and lie to pregnant people in order to dissuade them from having abortions.

We’re urging New Seasons to stop actively undermining our Northwest values of mutual respect and inclusiveness.

Portland City Council Votes to Protect Workers from the Freedom Foundation

This week, the Portland City Council stood up for working people by voting unanimously to keep workers’ personal information safe from extremist groups like the Freedom Foundation. We know the Freedom Foundation has targeted workers and a poses a threat to their safety, and we’re happy to see that the Council has made the right decision.

The Freedom Foundation and their allies have an agenda that has nothing to do with the public interest. Their agenda is all about dismantling progressive groups in Oregon in order to support conservative causes and win elections for Republicans. This behavior is a direct violation of their non-partisan, tax-exempt status, and the Northwest Accountability Project has filed complaints with both federal and state authorities calling for a complete investigation.

Our organization has uncovered evidence — through YouTube videos, social media, and mailings — of Freedom Foundation leaders, including CEO Tom McCabe and Oregon State Director Anne Marie Gurney, explicitly stating that their goal is to “defund unions.” This was further backed up by a recent article in the Guardian which exposed leaked documents about the Freedom Foundation’s true mission.

If personal information is released to the Freedom Foundation, there are no requirements to keep the information secure. This puts workers’ identity and personal security at risk.

Furthermore, the Northwest Accountability Project has uncovered evidence that the Freedom Foundation poses a direct safety concern to workers. The Freedom Foundation does not properly vet its staff. Their Washington Field Director, who oversees union member outreach, has a violent criminal record and has joked about bringing a gun with him to the homes of workers. Another staffer for the Freedom Foundation has posted a number of racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments on social media, and at one point said that all Muslims should be deported.

Workers across the state have reported incidences of Freedom Foundation staff visiting their homes and workplaces unannounced to harass and intimidate them. We have even received reports that the Freedom Foundation lies about who they are (often trying to mimic union organizers), and they have claimed that the union provided them with members’ contact information.

Workers deserve safety from the Freedom Foundation, and the Portland City Council made the right decision this week by vowing to fight for the workers who keep Portland running.

Thank you to all the workers who spoke out to their elected Portland leaders and urged them to make the right call.

The Freedom Foundation is After Workers’ Personal Information Once Again

Working families in Oregon are under attack.

An organization known as the Freedom Foundation is posing as a non-partisan “think tank,” and trying to acquire the personal information of Portland city employees without their permission. This group, fueled by major right-wing foundations with ties to the Koch brothers and out-of-state conservative billionaires, has a purely political agenda.

This Wednesday, we are urging the City of Portland to protect its workers privacy and personal information from the Freedom Foundation’s politically motivated attacks. Workers deserve to be protected from harassment.

The Freedom Foundation is part of the Koch-funded State Policy Network, a national network of far right organizations. A recent article in the Guardian detailed the political agenda of the Freedom Foundation to “defund and defang” unions so they can implement a far-right agenda.

What you can do: Send a message to your council member to tell them the Freedom Foundation does not work in the public interest.

Having your personal information in the hands of the Freedom Foundation makes you a target of harassment and could subject union families to identity theft. This risk should be taken seriously.

Reports have come that Freedom Foundation staff have visited union members’ homes and workplaces unannounced. We have even received reports that the Freedom Foundation has lied about who they are and have claimed that their own union provided them with members’ information.

The Freedom Foundation has aligned themselves with far-right, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBTQ groups and should not be allowed access to the personal contact information of workers. Moreover, their extensive track record of failing to keep personal information safe and harassing families across the region shows their general contempt for hardworking people.

Oregon workers deserve to know that when they are home with their families or working hard on the clock, they are safe from political attacks.

We are confident that the City Council will put an end to the Freedom Foundation and their blatant attacks on workers. Until then, if the Freedom Foundation contacts you, know your rights and how to protect yourself against this extreme organization.

Jac Cates: A Bigot Only the Freedom Foundation Could Love

By this point we are all familiar with the ultra right-wing Freedom Foundation and their goal of undermining workers’ rights and LGBTQ rights. What you may not know is that one of their tactics is to harass workers at their homes in a failed attempt to convince them to leave their union. But just who carries out such a fool’s errand for the extremist organization?

We introduce you to Jac Cates, a self-proclaimed proud employee of the Freedom Foundation. Cates has very strong opinions about a myriad of issues, especially gender, LGBTQ matters, race and immigration.

Did we mention that Cates is also a bigot? It’s a harsh accusation to make and we don’t take it lightly. But after reading through Cates’ social media feed, there’s no other conclusion to come to. If you’d like to judge for yourself, feel free to take a look at Cates’ public posts on Facebook, although don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Allow us to introduce you to the ugly, racist, xenophobic, anti-gay world of Jac Cates:

Jac Cates is an Anti-Immigrant Racist

In response to the murder of three people in Fresno in April 2017, Cates called for the deportation of all Muslims. He stated that “the religion is the enemy” and that “all need to be deported.”

Cates also claims that “sanctuary cities often have the highest crime rates” and “statitically [sic] higher minority crime rates.”

In a May reference to Takuma Sato, the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500, Cates wrote, “Sweet! That crazy Jap won!”

Jac Cates Mocks Survivors of Assault

Cates regularly posts and shares jokes about survivors of domestic and sexual assault.

In June, Cates posted a bizarre and nonsensical joke about women who are trapped in abusive relationships: “I hate when men beat women! That being said, how could you date a guy who beat his wife??? Did you think you could be more special than his WIFE?!!!! But…., you love him… Moron!”

Cates shared a disturbing meme about targeting vulnerable women: “Go to the animal shelter for a dog and you’re a saint… go to the womens [sic] shelter for a new girlfriend and everyone loses their mind.”

Cates also posted a meme about about comedian Bill Cosby, who admitted under oath to buying quaaludes to use to have sex with women.

Jac Cates Has An Obsession with Women’s Body Parts

Cates also seems to have an oddly public fascination with female genitalia. He “wondered” if he “should have a men only parade advertising how much we love the vag” then said he’d “probably go to jail.” And in May, he said that “vagina’s” [sic] “roaming around freely” were “on his mind.”

A public Facebook post by Jac Cates that reads, "Cigarettes and alcohol have warning labels because they are addictive, dangerous, and destroy lives. And yet vagina's [sic] are just allowed to roam about freely."

Jac Cates Spreads Anti-LGBTQ Hate

Possibly the most frequent target of Cates’ diatribes is the LGBTQ community. Posting a video of a young person applying makeup to make themselves appear more female, Cates said that “kids…doing this kind of nonsense” isn’t the problem, but that “they are considered heroes or courageous for being queer.” He wrote that he wouldn’t consider them “courageous” until they “dress like that and put on makeup, march down main street Tehran.”

He has claimed that “Naziism is alive and well in the LGBT movement” as part of a “population control” scheme. He even wrote that he was “cutting my wiener off today #trannylife”.

Mocking Rachel Maddow’s appearance, he posted a picture of her with the caption: “IF YOU EVER FEEL UNINFORMED REMEMBER…PEOPLE GET THEIR NEWS FROM THIS GUY…”

And in a post that manages to be both racist and anti-LGBTQ, he wrote, “Haha! Obama admits that he almost decided to be gay. Explains why his wife looks almost as good as RuPaul.”

Jac Cates Excuses Slavery

Cates criticized cities taking down monuments honoring the Confederacy and white supremacy. He posted an image of the monuments being dismantled with the caption, “POOF! JUST LIKE THAT THE CIVIL WAR NEVER HAPPENED! THEREFORE NEITHER DID SLAVERY RIGHT!? ISN’T THAT HOW THIS WHOLE THING WORKS?”

Our Take

We are not ones to give the Freedom Foundation advice, but it strikes us as odd that an organization trying to curry the favor of union members made up of different races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and religions would send a racist, xenophobic, anti-gay, “vag”-obsessed bigot to their doors.

Or, you know, they could continue to employ this guy and prove what we’ve known all along: The Freedom Foundation is an ugly, ultra-right organization funded and staffed by people bent on undermining workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s health, and civil rights.

The culture of hate and division in the United States is a real problem. The Freedom Foundation, its directors, funders, and staff are feeding it and it has to stop.

Pacific Continental Dodges on Jeff Pinneo and the Murdock Trust

When confronted with board member Jeff Pinneo’s involvement with the Murdock Charitable Trust and their funding of the anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom and the anti-worker political groups National Right to Work and the Freedom Foundation, Pacific Continental Bank claimed it did not involve itself in its board members’ other business or board interests.

That, however, has not always been the case. In fact, in January, Pacific Continental paid $5 million to settle claims it had knowingly financed a Ponzi scheme run by one of its board members (who also happened to be the son of the founder of the bank). Even the trustee managing the bankruptcy of the Ponzi scheme company, Thomas Huntsberger, said the bank was “an essential component to the continuation of the Ponzi scheme.”

Pacific Continental agreed to pay $4.9 million “to settle claims they knowingly aided and abetted the alleged Berjac Ponzi scheme that cost investors nearly $40 million.” “Berjac was an obscure family-owned finance company that supposedly specialized in loaning money to individuals so that they could buy insurance. … Rather, Berjac executives allegedly pocketed investors’ money for their own uses, which included a hodgepodge of real estate and housing ventures.”

The head of Berjac, “Michael Holcomb sat on Pacific Continental’s board of directors.” He ran the company with his brother Gary. Michael and Gary’s father, Jack Holcomb, founded Pacific Continental Bank.

It appears that leadership at Pacific Continental is still showing bad judgment. After financing a board member’s Ponzi scheme, they are now refusing to get involved when another board member who is associated with funding a hate group and organizations working to reduce the wages of workers who likely are Pacific Continental customers.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Columbia Bank and Pacific Continental Bank leaders to drop their ties to a hate group funder.

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