News

Is the Freedom Foundation an anti-immigrant organization or just a band of bigoted extremists?

The Freedom Foundation has claimed they might be showing up at union members’ homes unannounced in the coming months. While we don’t know if this is actually true (They tend to stretch the truth about what their organization does), this should be a cause for concern for anyone who values the safety and well-being of our immigrant and non-white neighbors.

Leaders across the political spectrum have recently rejected the horrific practice of separating immigrant children from their parents, with some comparing it to the policies of Nazi Germany or Japanese Internment during World War II. Conservative former first lady, Laura Bush, wrote a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post lambasting the Trump Administration’s so-called zero-tolerance policy, and Cardinal Dolan, a leading conservative Catholic, blasted the practice, writing: “That’s just unjust. That’s un-American and unbiblical.”

While conservative leaders are lining up against the administration and placing the blame where it belongs, Matt Hayward, a lead Freedom Foundation staffer, blamed the migrant families themselves, writing on social media:  “The only people responsible for children being separated from their parents are the parents.” In the same post, he wrote: “Manipulative and delusional people use victimization as a tool to avoid or shift responsibility.”

As far as we know, Matt Hayward is in charge of the so-called “grassroots operation” of the Freedom Foundation in Washington. He has a history of violent behavior and rhetoric; Hayward was once convicted of a violent felony and has joked about bringing a gun to the homes of union members. With this in mind, his recent comments on immigrants and their children are even more chilling.

It’s not surprising that the Freedom Foundation would put a potentially violent bigot in charge of their canvass operation in Washington. We’ve documented their tolerance of bigoted canvasser, Jac Cates, their ties to white supremacists, their work with an anti-LGBTQ hate group and the time their former lead Oregon staffer opened a rally for anti-immigrant Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.

Former Freedom Foundation staffer Anne Marie Gurney at a rally for Joe Arpaio

The few legislative allies the Freedom Foundation has are a veritable who’s who of white supremacists and the alt-right. Take into account Rep. Mike Nearman from Oregon, a shameless white nationalist who seems to take great pride in threatening the livelihoods and rights of immigrants. As one of the leaders of the hate group Oregonians for Immigration Reform, Nearman has built his political career on alienating immigrant communities and using immigrants as a scapegoat for various societal problems.

According to the highly respected Southern Poverty Law Center, Oregonians for Immigration Reform is an anti-immigrant hate group focused on destroying immigrant communities’ access to basic civic protections and benefits like access to basic public safety. The SPLC had this to say about Nearman’s group:

“Founded in 2000, the McMinnville-based Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) is the most prominent anti-immigrant group in the state. OFIR presents itself as a group “advocating for an environmentally sustainable level of immigration,” but, for almost two decades OFIR has demonized immigrants while working closely with nationally recognized anti-immigrant groups and figures.  OFIR’s co-founders and current leadership also have longstanding ties to hate groups and a history of making racist statements.” (Southern Poverty Law Center, April 2018)

While the Freedom Foundation has never taken an official stance on immigration issues (as far as we know), the views of their lead staff, allies and friends in the legislature should give everyone pause as to what their agenda would be if they ever held any actual power in the Northwest. More immediately though, it’s of great concern as to what would happen if they knocked on the door of an immigrant family.

ZoomCare Medical Clinics and Bristol Farms Grocery Chain Enrich Anti-LGBTQ Investor

The Northwest Accountability Project is calling on ZoomCare (a Portland-based chain of for-profit medical clinics) and Bristol Farms (a Southern California grocery chain) to cut ties with the Murdock Trust, an investor that has spent millions funding extreme anti-LGBTQ organizations.

Bristol Farms (which also operates Lazy Acres stores) and ZoomCare are both partly-owned by private equity investors through funds managed by Endeavour Capital. The Murdock Trust has invested in every Endeavour Capital fund since 2000 and continues to profit off the growth of their companies.

Profits earned by Bristol Farms and ZoomCare enrich the Murdock Trust as it funds extreme anti-equality 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. The Fellowship claims that same-sex attraction “stems from relational wounds and dysfunction.”
  • The Freedom Foundation, a billionaire-backed group that has worked to keep wages low, eliminate paid sick leave, and slash crucial funding for quality education.
  • Anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” which are known to masquerade as licensed medical facilities and lie to pregnant people in order to dissuade them from having abortions.

When community leaders in Seattle and Portland called on local Murdock-affiliated grocery chain New Seasons and Endeavour Capital to cut ties with the Murdock Trust, they refused to take action. New Seasons even claimed that the Murdock Trust “does not fund projects that contribute to discrimination of any kind.”

Since Endeavour Capital seems happy to continue enriching the Murdock Trust through investment partnerships, the Northwest Accountability Project is moving to extend its public education efforts to other Endeavour Capital-owned companies, including Bristol Farms and ZoomCare.

Join the campaign to hold these companies accountable.

Contact the CEOs of ZoomCare and Bristol Farms and tell them to cut ties with the Murdock Trust.

The Koch Brothers’ Agenda in Oregon

Privatizing public services, cutting corporate taxes and slashing wages and benefits for workers

 

Anti-worker and Corporate Donors are using a collection of front groups to try and destroy unions in our state. Get the facts about who they are and their true agenda.

WHO ARE THEY? These organizations market themselves as “think tanks” and operate under several names such as: “The Freedom Foundation,” “Opt Out Today” and “Oregon Ponzi Scheme.” The Freedom Foundation/Opt Out Today are trying to launch aggressive campaigns in at least five states, including Oregon. They’ve even gone to Oklahoma telling lawmakers that teachers don’t deserve raises.

WHAT’S THEIR AGENDA?

  • Reduce or cut public services, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security
  • Privatize public services
  • Cut public employees pensions and health care so that they can cut corporate taxes

Opt Out/Freedom Foundation’s ultimate goal is to privatize public services and eliminate public sector jobs. They believe that if they can reduce public sector union membership, they will reduce a powerful voice for public services and cut corporate taxes. In other states, where unions are weaker than Oregon, there are private prisons, outsourced highway services, and unqualified contractors doing the work of public employees.

They were also part of the coalition that tried to slash public employee PERS benefits by more than 40% in 2017.

WHO FUNDS THEM? These groups receive millions from corporate donors including the Koch Brothers. These donors have advocated against raising wages, funding for education, cutting Medicare and Medicaid and want to silence the voice of working families – all in an effort to make themselves richer.

Documents were recently obtained by the Guardian which shows the Freedom Foundation/OptOut Today is part of a national network of radical “think tanks,” who are trying to launch sophisticated campaigns to mislead public sector workers into dropping union membership and reduce their ability to stand up against privatization and cuts to pensions and healthcare benefits. In Oregon, public employees have already received the “Opt Out” mailer revealed in the investigation.

THEIR LEADERS HAVE PUBLICLY BASHED WORKERS. The Freedom Foundation says state employees are overpaid and don’t work enough. A top Freedom Foundation staffer recently wrote a column in the Bend Bulletin claiming taxpayers are footing the bill for “public employees’ handsome salaries and lavish benefits.” The truth? The Freedom Foundation has no idea what it means to work in public service. They have no idea how committed and hardworking union members in our state work every day. And when firefighters, teachers, and other public workers tried to call him out on his anti-worker views, here’s how a lead Freedom Foundation staffer responded:

THESE GROUPS WANT TO SILENCE THE VOICES OF WORKING FAMILIES. The Freedom Foundation’s Tom McCabe has said that public sector unions should not have the right to collectively bargain for better pay, benefits and working conditions. These groups want to destroy unions and are seeking to divide and weaken unions in an effort to enrich their wealthy donors.

ARE YOU A UNION MEMBER?
Stand up to those who would cut your pay and benefits and privatize your job. So far Opt Out/Freedom Foundation have failed and people are standing together in their unions. But they have deep pockets. If the Freedom Foundation gets its way, all workers will suffer because unions won’t have the ability to negotiate for better pay, benefits, and working conditions for everyone.

Tell the Freedom Foundation that Oregonians don’t buy their lies: we know that the Freedom Foundation does not represent Oregon’s workers or values.

Jami Lund Heads to Oklahoma to Talk About Undermining Educators

The Freedom Foundation and their very own self-described “top scholar” of education, Jami Lund, recently bragged about a trip to Oklahoma to give advice to legislators about undermining striking educators. As has been widely reported, educators from West Virginia to Oklahoma have taken matters into their own hands because of chronic underfunding of schools and inadequate compensation. In Oklahoma, schools are wrought with shoddy supplies and broken down classrooms while the state ranks dead last in teacher compensation.

Apparently, the Freedom Foundation isn’t too concerned about these facts, which isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that they would openly brag about their nefarious mission to Oklahoma. While they have been trying desperately to convince workers they are on their side, we have been exposing their history of opposition to issues that help working people like minimum wage increases, paid sick leave for all and increasing education funding. When Lund or his cohorts take a trip like this, it only helps further our mission of shining a light on their anti-worker agenda.

This isn’t the first time they’ve accidentally revealed their true colors. Last year they signed onto a coalition with other radical right-wing groups calling for cuts in public workers retirement benefits. When it was exposed, they quickly removed their name from the coalition, and now the entire website seems to be gone.

Good thing we know how to take screenshots and were able to capture a picture of the Freedom Foundation’s endorsement:

The State Policy Network (SPN), the Freedom Foundation’s national network, doesn’t help their deceptive efforts either. A recent article in the Guardian highlighted leaked documents from the SPN containing tips on how to undermine striking educators. This paragraph is pulled right from the article:

“Top of the list of talking points is the claim that ‘teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families’. It advises anti-union campaigners to argue that ‘it’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children.’”

The Freedom Foundation has been trying to deceive workers in Washington and Oregon for a few years now. They have invested millions in trying to strip workers of their hard-fought gains but workers are just not buying it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that union membership in Oregon and Washington rose in 2017 and the main union targets of the Freedom Foundation are seeing increased revenues since their attacks began.

The Freedom Foundation can’t hide their true agenda of trying to cut wages, slash benefits, and fight education funding increases while trying to make it harder for workers to organize. If the Koch brothers want to send someone to deceive workers in Washington and Oregon they better look to another organization.

Hey, New Seasons, There is No Excuse for Funding Hate

Last month, the Northwest Accountability Project launched a campaign calling on New Seasons Market to distance itself from the hate group funding Murdock Charitable Trust.

New Seasons is majority-owned by funds managed by Endeavour Capital. Since 2000, the Murdock Charitable Trust has invested millions in Endeavour Capital funds– including the funds which own New Seasons. This means profits from New Seasons enrich the Murdock Trust – and the Murdock Trust is no friend of working people or the LGBTQ community.

They have given millions of dollars to a wide array of anti-LGBTQ hate groups and anti-worker organizations.

One of these groups is the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a notorious anti-LGBTQ organization which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group. They push anti-trans legislation throughout the country and their founder, James Dobson once questioned whether AIDS was one way God punishes the LGBTQ community. Another group is the extremist Freedom Foundation, a billionaire-funded group that opposes minimum wage increases, paid sick leave and fair scheduling laws.

Our campaign has garnered significant media attention including published pieces in the Portland Business Journal and the Stranger. At the launch of our campaign, a queer identified New Seasons employee even spoke out against their employer’s connection to the Murdock trust.

So what has their response been? You would think that a grocery store that claims to “lead with [their] values” and support LGBTQ rights would take a stand against Murdock and the hateful causes it funds. But no. New Seasons just parroted the Murdock Trust’s own excuses and failed to offer a word of condemnation for the hateful and reactionary organizations Murdock funds. Some could interpret their response as a downright acceptance of the Murdock Trust and their funding. Here are a few examples:

New Seasons internal message to workers:

 

New Seasons internal message to workers

From Reed Coleman, Staff Engagement and Communications Manager at New Seasons Market:

Message from Reed Coleman, Staff Engagement and Communications Manager at New Seasons Market

A letter directly from Stephen Babson, New Seasons board member and Managing Director of Endeavour Capital:

A letter directly from Stephen Babson, New Seasons board member and Managing Director of Endeavor Capital

New Seasons had the opportunity to stand with its workers and the LGBTQ community throughout the Northwest. Instead, they made excuse after excuse. Well, there is no excuse for funding hate. The destruction that organizations like the ADF causes to the LGBTQ community is inexcusable.

If New Seasons wants to be Portland’s progressive grocer, they need to rethink their approach to the Murdock Trust and cut ties with them. Sign our petition to tell New Seasons to #DropMurdock.

Sign up to learn more about the project.