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The Truth About the Freedom Foundation

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Oregon’s Corban University Uses Title IX Exemption for Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry

Our work tracking local extremist organizations like the Freedom Foundation/Opt Out Today and the Washington Policy Center brings us to unexpected places. We’ve discovered a small college in Salem, Oregon called Corban University which receives federal aid, your tax dollars, while unabashedly discriminating against the LGBTQ community.

They are a headquarters of hatred and bigotry in the Northwest, with extreme anti-LGBTQ policies and leaders, including some professors that actively promote the highly destructive and abusive practice of “gay conversion therapy.” Some former students have spoken out against the school, stating that they underwent conversion therapy while in attendance at Corban.

A school that actively discriminates against the LGBTQ community and abuses their current students should not receive federal aid. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is an equal rights law that applies to all schools receiving federal funding, stating they cannot discriminate. Corban University (formerly known as Western Baptist College)received an exemption from this law so that they could continue to discriminate against LGBTQ faculty and students as they saw fit while still receiving federal aid.

Send a letter to your Senators and Representatives and ask them to revoke Corban’s Title IX exemption.

Ruthlessly prejudiced against students in the LGBTQ community, Corban University is crystal clear in its student handbook about the kind of fractured college experience its students should expect:

Corban University prohibits same-sex relationships, writing, “Students experiencing same-sex attraction or orientation… are expected to remain celibate [and] refrain from dating.” Additionally, it says, “All dating and sexual relationships should be consistent with those principles that support a faithful heterosexual marriage.”

Corban University prohibits transgender students from identifying with their preferred gender, stating, those who “struggle” with their gender must “continue to identify with their biological sex.”

Corban University’s harassment policy and section on respect for fellow students omits harassment motivated by homophobia or transphobia. Corban University does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes.

Corban University opposes same-sex marriage. In their statement of faith, Corban University states that they believe “God…ordained marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”

But it’s not just their student policies, Corban and its staff have a long history of pushing “gay conversion therapy”, a barbaric and destructive practice:

Corban University offers sexual identity therapy to LGBTQ students. Counseling services offered by Corban University include sexual identity therapy to those who identify within the LGBTQ community.

A professor of psychology and former department head at Corban University is a provider of “gay conversion therapy”: Corey Gilbert, an associate professor of psychology at Corban University and former psychology department head, performed research into “unwanted same-sex attraction.” Gilbert also provides therapy and counseling services to individuals who “experience unwanted same-sex attraction.”

Outside groups and Corban’s very own students have taken notice:

Corban University is featured on the “Shame List” of Campus Pride, an organization dedicated to making campuses more LGBTQ-friendly. “The Shame List identifies the ‘absolute worst campuses for LGBTQ youth’ in the United States. Corban University has qualified for the Shame List because it holds an exemption to Title IX in order to discriminate against its students on the basis of gender identity, marital status, pregnancy or receipt of abortion.” [campuspride.org]

A former Corban student stated he underwent “conversion therapy” on campus. OneCorban.org is a website built for LGBTQ Corban students and alumni to read and submit testimony about their experiences at Corban University. Testimony by a former student alleged that “scriptures [were] read to me regarding homosexuality and the sin I was committing. I was required to sit in that room, shaking and crying until I said out loud that I was struggling with being gay.”  [OneCorban.org]

What you can do to help:

While we in the Northwest celebrate LGBTQ rights and the diversity of our population, Corban University stays mired in hurtful out-of-date bigotry, while benefiting from all of our tax dollars. Please send a letter to your Senators and Representatives to demand that Corban University not be able to benefit from public funds while continuing to promote division and hatred. Together we can close Corban’s Title IX loophole of bigotry and protect our values and the students of Corban University.

Why the Freedom Foundation Fell out of Love With ‘Transparency’

The anti-worker Freedom Foundation reached new heights of self-contradiction recently (already an incredibly high bar) in signing onto a letter opposing a government transparency bill. A closer look at their “change of heart” on transparency shows them scrambling to conceal their funders’ directives while waxing poetic about the virtues of transparency against unions. For anyone new to the Freedom Foundation, this hypocrisy may seem stunning. To the Northwest Accountability Project it’s just another day at the office tracking far-right extremist organizations.

When we last checked in on the Freedom Foundation (aka Opt Out Today) staff, they were extolling the virtues of ‘transparent’ bargaining sessions in Spokane County in a failed attempt to bust local unions. Now they’re protesting congressional bill H.R. 1, also called For the People Act 2019, which, among other things like protecting voting rights and gerrymandering reform, seeks to increase transparency in federal politics and strengthen ethics rules.

Freedom Foundation talking head Ashley Varner calls H.R. 1 “chilling” and “Orwellian.”It’s easy to see what spooked them, and why they’ve changed their tune about the concept of transparency. Under new regulations in H.R. 1, shadowy front groups like the Freedom Foundation may need to start disclosing their donors and more accurately label online advertising, pure Kryptonite to a group like theirs.

Largely funded by an out-of-state web of dark money billionaires, the Freedom Foundation would be forced to pull all the skeletons out of their closet. Increasing transparency would make public their links to the anti-climate science Koch Brothers’ DonorsTrust, the anti-worker Bradley Foundation and shared funding with bigoted hate-groups in the State Policy Network, just for starters.

Varner also complains that H.R. 1 would require the Freedom Foundation to more rigorously disclose their advertising to the public. Considering the Freedom Foundation has a long, sordid history of deception and violating the law, including fines from the Washington Attorney General for campaign finance violations, we can see why they tremble at the thought of increased transparency and accountability.

Congressional bill H.R. 1 was created to strengthen ethics rules in American politics while also increasing government transparency. And it has groups like the Freedom Foundation shaking in their boots. They were all in on transparency when they could use it as a weapon against unions, but now the tables have turned. By protesting this bill, and the transparency it would bring, the Freedom Foundation takes their duplicity to a new level, further demonstrating they care more about their billionaire funders’ mission than working families in the Northwest.  

The Failures of Charlie Conner

Our organization has written previously about Charlie Conner, the sole owner and president of Conner Homes (based in Bellevue, Washington) and long-term board member of the right-wing Freedom Foundation. While we already questioned Conner’s business savviness based on the company he keeps (not a great business move to be connected to extremist groups like the Freedom Foundation in Washington), additional digging on his business only further proved this point.

From several lawsuits filed by unhappy customers furious about poor quality homes, to foreclosures by banks where he has borrowed money, to blowing thousands on failed political candidates, Charlie Conner’s record as a business owner shows a history of poor judgement and bad decisions.

Here are the facts:

No stranger to foreclosures, Conner saw banks seize huge tracts of land from his company for lack of payment on loans he took out. Bank of America foreclosed on an incomplete Conner property in Bothell, leaving the other half to the families that had already moved in.

Venture Bank foreclosed on another property when Conner fell behind $300,000 on the $6.3 million loan. A few months later, Venture Bank was seized by state regulators for lack of capital caused by large loan and investment losses. In response to the foreclosure, Conner said breezily, “I decided that property wasn’t worth what I put into it … I said, ‘I can’t make the payments anymore — I’ll just take my haircut.’”

It’s not just funders and lenders that Conner has let down. A public records search shows a string of lawsuits from his own customers, alleging substantial defects and deficiencies in construction. Homeowners at a Conner Homes development in Kirkland, WA alleged that Conner had failed to address problems and that as a result of the damage “some or all of the units may be uninhabitable.”

Conner was also sued by the Meydenbauer Bay Condominium Owners Association who alleged that the company had breached warranties with “various construction defects, including but not limited to water intrusion problems.”

Additionally, Conner has tried his hand at helping politicians get elected. As with his foreclosed properties and incensed customers, it hasn’t gone well. He gave campaign money to fellow Freedom Foundation board member Michael Appleby, who was running for state representative. Appleby lost, with a meager 34% of the vote. Conner also gave money to Dino Rossi, a five-time election loser, infamous for proposing the cutting of Medicaid benefits to 40,000 children in Washington.

With his history of defaulting on loans, angering customers and donating to failed politicians, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Charlie Conner’s Freedom Foundation is failing, too. With the new statistics showing Washington has the lowest union withdrawal rate in the nation, the union-busting Freedom Foundation has a lot of explaining to do. If their donors take a closer look at Charlie Conner’s performance record elsewhere, it may help clarify the problem.

Fueled by millions of dollars from out-of-state corporate interests, the Freedom Foundation and their director Charlie Conner have, quite simply, botched the job. The new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that union membership grew 10% last year in Washington state. On top of that, only 3.3% of workers covered by a union contract in Washington have declined to become full dues-paying members in this state, the lowest in the country.  

Seems Charlie and the Freedom Foundation may have some explaining to do to their funders.



NWAP Files Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) Complaint Against Glen Morgan and his PAC, We the Governed, for Willful Violations of State Campaign Finance Laws

Washington – The Northwest Accountability Project (NWAP) has filed a PDC complaint against Glen Morgan and his PAC, We the Governed for failure to disclose ANY of its political activity since its formation in 2016. The NWAP is alleging that We the Governed has solicited funds for overt political activities without proper disclosure as outlined by the state’s Fair Practices Campaign Act.

“The PDC should hold Mr. Morgan accountable for his willful violations of Washington State law,” said Peter Starzynski, Executive Director of the Northwest Accountability Project, a watchdog organization that closely tracks extremist groups in the Northwest like the anti-union Freedom Foundation and the Washington Policy Center.

Glen Morgan, a former staffer at the Freedom Foundation is very familiar with the PDC. He is perhaps most well-known for filing hundreds of frivolous PDC complaints against left-leaning candidates and local Democratic parties.

“It’s somewhat ironic that Mr. Morgan himself has so egregiously violated state law given his history of utilizing the PDC for his own political purposes. Someone who knows the PDC as well as Mr. Morgan should also know the law,” Starzynski continued. “I think it shows that he knowingly violated the law in a malicious and willful manner. These violations can’t be accidental.”

The complaint alleges that Mr. Morgan never submitted ANY of the proper disclosure forms to the PDC since he created We the Governed PAC in 2016. Those allegations include failure to disclose any of the funds he solicited for political purposes, failure to disclose expenditures on any of their endorsed candidates at every level of state and local government or any of the ballot measures they have campaigned for or against.

The NWAP believes the serious nature of these actions warrants referral to the Attorney General.  The severity of the violations committed by Mr. Morgan and We the Governed warrant penalties greater than the maximum the PDC is authorized to impose.

The PDC has assigned the complaint, ticket #47250.

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The Northwest Accountability Project is a social welfare organization dedicated to shining a light on extremism and the moneyed special interests that attempt to bring an agenda of hate and division to the Northwest. 



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