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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.

Our Letter About the Freedom Foundation

If you’ve seen the Freedom Foundation’s name in the news, it’s important that you understand more about them, their backers and the lies they tell. The Freedom Foundation is funded by a who’s who of right-wing billionaires including the Kochs and the State Policy Network which has admitted their goal is to “defund and defang” unions in an effort to help elect right-wing candidates. They take money from extremist foundations that support anti-LGBTQ  and anti-immigrant organizations. What they’re not telling their funders or you, is that their campaign is failing. Since the Freedom Foundation launched in Oregon in 2015, unions have won big on issues that matter for working families at the bargaining table, in the legislature, and at the ballot box. In that timeframe, Democrats have gained seats in the legislature and have passed one of the most pro-worker legislative agendas in the country including increasing the minimum wage, paid sick leave for all and adding two billion dollars to our schools per biennium. State workers secured their biggest wage increase in a decade, grocery store workers beat the mega-corporation that runs Fred Meyer and University of Oregon workers won a great contract after approving a strike. Union members are much smarter than the Freedom Foundation thinks and aren’t falling for their anti-working families agenda. Our organization is committed to telling the truth about the Freedom Foundation, even if they won’t tell the truth about themselves.

They heard us loud and clear

With more people outside protesting than inside attending the Freedom Foundation’s Saturday night fundraiser featuring anti-LGBTQ bigot Mike Huckabee, we sent a clear message: hate has no home in Oregon!

Photo from protest outside of the Salem Convention Center. People hold protest banners and signs.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in Salem and thank you to everyone who emailed the Salem Convention Center to express your outrage over their willingness to give Mike Huckabee’s bigotry a platform. Together we made ourselves heard and ensured that the Freedom Foundation’s attempt to push their extreme agenda in our community did not go unchecked.

While the Freedom Foundation’s fundraiser was an undeniable flop, we cannot allow the Salem Convention Center’s complicity in this hateful event to be ignored.

The Convention Center has an obligation to be a safe and welcoming place for all people. Saturday’s event, which included guests lobbing homophobic slurs, was anything but that.

Email the Salem Convention Center today and share your disappointment at their willingness to give hate a platform.

Rally on Nov. 9: Mike Huckabee’s Brand of LGBTQ Bigotry is not Welcome in Oregon

Join us to tell the Salem Convention Center and the anti-worker Freedom Foundation that Huckabee’s hate has no place in Oregon! RSVP via the Facebook event above.

Flagrant homophobe Mike Huckabee is set to be the keynote speaker at a Nov. 9th closed-door fundraiser at the Salem Convention Center. The secretive event is being hosted by the extremist, anti-worker Freedom Foundation.

Huckabee stands at the forefront of the anti-LGBTQ movement and has a long record of sexist and racist comments, and ties to a prominent white supremacist group. The Salem Convention Center should not be giving Huckabee’s brand of bigotry a platform.

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