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Freedom Foundation Uses Union’s Name in Signatory Line of Outreach Email

It’s been well documented by the Northwest Accountability Project that the anti-worker Freedom Foundation/Opt Out Today is one of the most dishonest organizations operating along the West Coast. There have been multiple reports of their staffers impersonating union staff and lying to public employees. More recently, in a desperate move to convince union members to drop their membership, they actually used the union’s name in the signatory line of an email, a likely case of fraudulent behavior in what appears to be an attempt to deceive workers about the identity of the sender.

 

Email from Freedom Foundation

 

This unethical and likely illegal action is the kind of thing that we have become accustomed to from the failing right-wing “think tank.” The Freedom Foundation has not delivered on their mission to destroy unions along the West Coast, despite spending more than $20 million dollars, and are desperate to appease their out-of-state billionaire funders.

In addition to these violations, the Freedom Foundation and their leadership have a long history of violating state and federal laws by abusing their non-profit tax-exempt status to push a partisan, political agenda. This past October, the Washington Attorney General called them a “repeat offender” of the state’s campaign finance laws.

Northwest Accountability Project Files PDC Complaint Against Defeated Centralia School Board Candidate, Jami Lund

Centralia, WA – The Northwest Accountability Project (NWAP) filed a Public Disclosure Commission (“PDC”) Citizen Complaint against Jami Lund, a losing candidate for Centralia School Board for multiple disclosure violations in his 2019 campaign finance reports. Mr. Lund lost his bid for reelection while serving as a policy analyst for the dark money, anti-union group that calls themselves the “Freedom Foundation.”

“Despite what he may think, Mr. Lund is not above the law,” said Peter Starzynski, Executive Director of the NWAP, a watchdog organization that closely tracks extremist groups in the Northwest like the Freedom Foundation and the Washington Policy Center. “He is required to follow the rules set in place by the people of Washington like everyone else. Even if he loses.”

The complaint points to multiple potential violations on his reporting to the PDC. These violations include not disclosing his employer, the Freedom Foundation, when he loaned his own campaign money in June of 2019, omitting information about contributors to his campaign, and improperly describing expenditures made by his campaign.

Concerns have already been raised about Lund’s ties to a special interest like the Freedom Foundation. Earlier this year, in what appeared to be a clear abuse of power, Lund sent emails to Centralia educators in his capacity as a staffer at the Freedom Foundation, asking them to drop their union membership. Some have attributed his shadowy behavior and position at the Freedom Foundation to his election defeat. “These types of activities by Mr. Lund – hiding certain aspects of your profession or abusing your position as a school board member to further the agenda of a special interest – makes perfect sense when you understand the Freedom Foundation,” Starzynski continued. 

The Freedom Foundation is a political organization which is trying and failing to undermine unions and help elect extreme politicians, like Lund. They do this without disclosing their donors and in violation of their 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. The Freedom Foundation has its own track record of campaign finance violations. The latest was a lawsuit filed by the Washington Attorney General based on a complaint originating at the PDC and filed by the NWAP. The Washington AG called the Freedom Foundation a “repeat offender of our campaign finance laws.”

The Freedom Foundation Hates the Northwest Accountability Project

It’s pretty clear that Freedom Foundation (aka Opt Out Today) staffers and leadership hates the Northwest Accountability Project (NWAP). This was recently made clear when NWAP was the feature of the December edition of their secretive fundraising letter, the ironically named “Living Liberty.” Most people won’t see this newsletter and it’s nowhere to be found on their website, but the NWAP receives a copy every month. This is the publication they don’t want you or union members to read because it’s the publication where they tend to be most honest. It’s the publication they tend to describe their partisan mission or their goal to slash worker’s benefits and pay.

Clippings from the Freedom Foundation's newsletter

The feature was authored by CEO Tom McCabe and hypocrisy runs rampant in his screed. An obviously inflamed McCabe spends paragraphs trying to rationalize why it’s reasonable for his group to possess the personal information, including birth dates and home addresses, of thousands of public sector workers (like nurses, social workers and educators) and give access to dangerous, right wing activists that have publicly made homophobic, racist and misogynistic comments. One staffer that does “outreach” is a convicted violent felon who joked about bringing a gun to the homes of public sector workers and said he wouldn’t comply with Washington’s voter approved gun laws. Another staffer called for the deportation of all Muslims and mocked survivors of domestic violence. When the NWAP created a public service so public sector union members might know who may show up to their homes or access their personal information, McCabe and the Freedom Foundation got all in a tizzy. They should rename themselves the “Snowflake Foundation.”

We’ll start sharing this material more regularly as interesting articles appear in Living Liberty, especially the humorous fables they cobble together to pull the wool over the eyes of their fringe donors. In the meantime, here’s what the Freedom Foundation had to say about NWAP:

  • They call us a “frathouse.” Not sure why it’s important, we just thought it was funny.
  • They call us “juvenile.” This is not the first time our staff have been called juvenile in their lifetimes. Trust us.
  • They regurgitate the same tired talking points that right-wingers have been spewing about unions for decades. Unions are full of paid protesters, thugs and intimidators, etc. etc. YAWN. YAWN. The Freedom Foundation’s lack of originality in their message and their approach to union busting is part of why they are failing.
  • They don’t know who we are or how to reach us? Apparently, they haven’t been to the contact section of our website. Also, our Executive Director’s name featured in one of their videos.

Opt Out Today Facebook page

The type of double-speak: what they say publicly and what they say to right-wing donors is yet another reason the Freedom Foundation’s (aka Opt Out Today) has been such an abysmal failure. They are clearly feeling the heat to deliver for their donors and are worried about the NWAP blowing the cover off their entire nefarious organization. 

We wanted to extend a thank you to Tom McCabe for writing this hilarious screed. You can feel his anger towards the NWAP for blowing the top off their propaganda game. It is a wonderful vindication of our work. We mostly laugh at the Freedom Foundation’s blunders, but we also recognize that they irresponsibly share the personal information of our public servants. We’ll continue to monitor and expose all the ways the Freedom Foundation continues to pose threats to the livelihood and safety of working people in the Northwest. And of course, we’ll also look forward to our next feature story in Living Liberty.

Bonus: Their Laura Ingraham event was on September 21, not September 24 like they have printed here. They don’t even know the date of their own event. Sigh…

 

Freedom Foundation Staffer, Jami Lund Booted from the Centralia School Board After Only One Term

Election results from Centralia, WA show that incumbent Jami Lund has been ousted from his seat on the Centralia School Board after just one term. A salaried employee of the virulently anti-worker Freedom Foundation, Lund had been accused repeatedly of conflicts of interest during his term, including leading a failed campaign to coerce Centralia teachers into dropping their union. His vocal doubts about the validity of public higher education, the echoes of misogyny in his campaign and past attempts to bully teachers during negotiations likely also led to his failed re-election.

Lund’s entire term in office has been filled with controversy. Early in his tenure, Lund signed emails and letters from the Freedom Foundation to Centralia teachers at their work and at home, trying to coerce them to stop paying union dues while still receiving all the benefits. Many teachers felt their privacy had been violated and made a special appearance at a Centralia School District Board of Directors meeting to hold Lund accountable, also accusing him of a gross misuse of district resources. Lund’s director at the Freedom Foundation, Tom McCabe, claims their number one goal is to defund and bankrupt unions, including teachers’ unions. Many voters were probably forced to ask themselves which master Lund was trying to serve while in office.

Lund frequently put himself at odds with the town he was elected to serve by following the lead of his bosses at the Freedom Foundation. In an article he wrote for the Freedom Foundation’s secretive newsletter to their donors, the ironically named “Freedom Matters”, he asked, “Does the public really have an interest in Higher Education, or is all of this just another scheme to redistribute your income?” He went on to accuse the student financial aid system of being a waste, complaining, “again, what public purpose – if any – is served?” In the same article, he proposed “incentiviz[ing] private institutions” to fill in education gaps, another name for privatizing public schools. It’s not hard to imagine that his constituents would be dismayed at Lund’s disdain for public education. 

Lund’s campaign was also marred by echoes of misogyny, with implications that an empty nester man could do the job better than a mother, such as his opponent Mandi McDougall. In a letter to the editor, Dan Swecker of Rochester fawned over Lund saying, “The school board already has two ‘moms’ on it, so I think there is room for a thoughtful, qualified grandpa too.” Lund continued the sentiment at the Centralia Candidates Forum last month when he explained, “I’m at a stage in my life where I visit my grandchild once in a while and that’s the extent of my family obligations as far as taking care of somebody. And I can get out, I can go to the meetings, I can do the things, I can read the extensive material that’s required for meaningful participation.” His swipe at working mothers is despicable and most likely did not win him any new fans in the education community.

It was perhaps during last year’s heated negotiations with teachers’ unions in Centralia that Lund lost his last thread of legitimacy with citizens. The state legislature had sent a much needed boost of funds to public schools around the state, including Centralia. There were disagreements in many school districts about how the money should be applied, but few districts saw as much animosity towards teachers from the administration as in Centralia. Lund tried to intimidate teachers by proposing to cease paying the health insurance premiums of any teacher on strike. Thankfully, cooler heads on the school board prevailed, calling Lund’s proposal confrontational and “inflammatory.” It was also likely illegal.

Judging from the vote count, it’s clear the citizens of Centralia no longer want someone in office who uses the position to carry out their other employer’s political agenda. Lund’s misogyny, conflicts of interest, vocal disdain of publicly funded education and a track record of bullying teachers were enough to put him on the outs with Centralia families. Lund’s failure is also a bold confirmation that the Freedom Foundation’s anti-union mission is out of step with family values in Washington.

The Top Five Attendees of the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon Banquet

The extremist Freedom Foundation recently hosted anti-LGBTQ leader and notorious bigot Mike Huckabee as the keynote speaker at the Salem Convention Center. As you can imagine the Salem community was not too pleased as more than 800 individuals, businesses and organizations sent a note to the General Manager of the Convention Center, Chrissie Bertsch, demanding that she reject Huckabee’s brand of bigotry by canceling the event. Despite these efforts, the Salem Convention Center sided with hate and the event continued as planned. Naturally, we showed up. (Side note: you can send Ms. Bertsch a follow-up email and tell her how disappointed you are in the Salem Convention Center by clicking here).

What we found when we arrived was a rather small and pathetic gathering of a who’s who of failing fringe right-wing activists in Oregon. In fact, there were more protestors outside than Freedom Foundation guests inside and the few that did show were greeted by jeers and cameras to expose any business leaders or elected officials in attendance.

We put together a top five list of the best of the worst attendees of the Freedom Foundation’s anti-LGBTQ banquet.

1) White nationalist, Joey Nations. Joey, a pseudo candidate for congress is best known for donning a motorcycle helmet, draping himself in the American flag and assaulting protestors he disagrees with in the name of white nationalism. He’s been seen on the same stage as Nazis like Jacob van Ott and shaking hands with Trimet murderer, Jeremy Kristian. After we exposed their partnership on Twitter, the tweet was taken down and Joey Nations blocked our Executive Director. Good thing we know how to screenshot things.

2) The guy in this video. He came out and tried to confront protesters using homophobic and misogynistic language which we captured on video (TRIGGER WARNING: His language is graphic and he uses homophobic and misogynistic slurs). He apparently owns a contracting business in Idaho and made the journey to Salem to celebrate the anti-LGBTQ agenda of the Freedom Foundation. It’s unclear who he is and why he cares about Oregon.

3) Bill Post and Mike Nearman. The Freedom Foundation has tried desperately to become relevant and more mainstream, but they just can’t. The only elected officials they attract are the two most fringe, right-wing legislators in Oregon. Nearman, as we’ve documented, is anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ and he and Bill Post are seen as the fringe of the Republican Party in Oregon. 

4) Angela Roman. Rounding out the list of fringe right-wingers is Angela Roman who is perhaps most well known as the former aide of Rep. Nearman who gave a firearm to a convicted felon and served time in jail for her actions.

She is also made the rounds on YouTube with this thoughtful monologue on our current affairs (TRIGGER WARNING: She uses vulgar and despicable language and homophobic insults.)

5) Mike Huckabee. Ok, we get that this an event that he is keynoting but he makes this list for two reasons. First, he is a huge anti-LGBTQ bigot and has been one of the leaders of the anti-LGBTQ movement for decades. Huckabee has regularly mocked trans individuals and called LGBTQ rights the “greatest threat” to America. Second, there weren’t actually that many people in attendance so we had to use him to round out this list.

Bonus: The attendees of the Oregon Executive Club’s November 6th event. This event occurred three days before the Huckabee event and Freedom Foundation Oregon Director Mike Nearman spoke. He was so desperate to fill the seats for Huckabee he offered this group “name-your-price-tickets” which could be as low as $20. The tickets originally sold for $150 but if you can’t fill the seats, you have to give the tickets away. You can listen to Nearman here:

 

The Freedom Foundation has been trying and failing to destroy unions in the Northwest so they can make it easier for extreme, right-wing candidates to be elected. They have failed miserably and are trying their hardest to remain relevant. They are willing and eager to join forces with some of the most racist and homophobic individuals in the Northwest. Their event with Mike Huckabee was a clear indicator that even after $20 million spent they have not been able to gain any significant traction in Oregon. Our organization will continue to shine a light on the Freedom Foundation and expose their culture of hate and division.

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