BREAKING: Campaign Finance Disclosure Complaint Filed Against the Freedom Foundation
December 14, 2020
For more than six years, the “Freedom” Foundation (aka Opt Out Today), led by long-time Republican activist Tom McCabe, has been futilely engaged in a multi-million-dollar effort to dismantle collective bargaining rights for workers in the Northwest. Behind the scenes, the “Freedom” Foundation leadership has admitted (both on video and in writing) that their goal is to defeat “the Left” and advance right-wing politicians and ideologies. Faced with a breakdown in his plan and a failing campaign, he has resorted to allegedly illegal activities, as he’s done many times throughout his career.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the “Freedom” Foundation in 2019 based on a Washington Public Disclosure Complaint (PDC) complaint filed by the Northwest Accountability Project (NWAP). The highly respected AG wrote: “Freedom Foundation is a repeat offender of our campaign finance laws,” and that “Voters have a right to know who is influencing their elections. The Freedom Foundation needs to start following the law.”
Now, the NWAP has filed a new complaint against the so-called “Freedom” Foundation with Washington’s PDC. Our claim: the dark-money group has again been breaking multiple state laws that ensure political transparency. As President Ronald Reagan famously said: “There you go again.”
Not only do we allege that the organization has been operating as an unregistered political committee for years, but also that they failed to report their blatant electioneering against Governor Jay Inslee leading up to this year’s election. An election Inslee won by more than 13 points. Nevertheless, both of these actions would be illegal under Washington’s Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA) and should be elevated to the State’s Attorney General for litigation.
In their bid to put more Republicans into office, the group has been soliciting donations from the public with the promise of political action, specifically around upcoming elections against the “Radical Left.” For example, a fundraising letter they sent in early 2020 warned donors that “We could be as little as nine months away from losing this country forever, and we must act fast to keep that from happening.” Political promises like this, coupled with a request for money, are an easy tip-off that a group pretending to be non-partisan is operating as a political committee while also abusing tax-exempt non-profit laws to benefit their wealthy benefactors.
McCabe has a long history of illegal activities, starting long before taking the helm at the “Freedom” Foundation. He spent more than 20 years at the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), where their members forced him out for his nefarious political dealings and campaign finance fines paid to the state of Washington. Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office sued the BIAW for failing to report political spending, resulting in the group paying nearly $300,000 in fines and attorney fees. The group paid another $584,000 in settlement fees and penalties in a campaign finance complaint after McCabe’s departure.
The “Freedom” Foundation’s multi-million dollar campaign trying to attack workers on behalf of right-wing politicians has been a complete failure. We see a desperate pattern on their part to cross the boundaries of what is legal to appease their out-of-state donors. At the Northwest Accountability Project, we will continue to monitor these bad actors and protect transparency in our state elections.