NEWS: WA State AG asked to investigate Freedom Foundation’s “charity” status
February 16, 2016
Olympia, WA: Fire fighters, women’s health advocates, teachers, LGBT advocates and others are calling on Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to launch an investigation into the Freedom Foundation’s tax-exempt status and compliance with state rules. The Northwest Accountability Project, a watchdog group based in Washington, has uncovered evidence from Freedom Foundation leadership and staff that their mission is to defund labor unions in order to advance Republicans and conservative candidates, a clear violation of IRS and state rules. (Letter to WA State Attorney General)
During a videotaped Republican fundraiser for Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver), Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe says, “Why are we focused on the labor unions?…They are by far the largest contributors to the Democratic Party.”
In the video, Freedom Foundation staffer Scott Roberts explains “for every dollar [unions] spend defending their idea is every dollar they don’t have to spend against our good candidates.” Later in the video, McCabe expresses the need to keep the state legislature in Republican hands and even goes as far as to encourage donors in the room to contribute to specific races.
Federal and state rules prohibit 501c3 charities like the Freedom Foundation from participating in political, election or partisan activities.
The consumer complaint, filed Tuesday, is the second complaint filed against the Freedom Foundation in recent months. Late last year, in a detailed 24-page complaint, more than a dozen Northwest organizations demanded the IRS revoke Freedom Foundation’s 501c3 tax-exempt status for “flagrantly” disregarding federal laws banning political campaign intervention.
“The Freedom Foundation is blatantly ignoring the state and federal rules that prohibit tax-exempt organizations from engaging in partisan political activity – and as a result, they’re getting tax breaks while taxpayers are footing the bill for their conservative attacks,” said Andrew Biviano, Founding Board Member of the Northwest Accountability Project. “It’s outrageous that the Freedom Foundation is engaging in partisan attacks on the middle class, the environment, and the values that we hold here in the Pacific Northwest, while hiding behind a bogus 501(c)(3) tax exemption.”
According to the complaints, by trying to “defund the political left,” the non-profit Freedom Foundation is likely violating federal and state rules governing 501c3, tax-exempt charities and prohibit them from partisan, political activities.
Revocation of the group’s tax-exempt status could have a huge financial impact on the organization. It would mean that Freedom Foundation donors could no longer deduct contributions from their federal taxes, it would restrict contributions from charitable foundations such as the Murdock Trust, and the organization may have to pay additional B&O and other state taxes.
The Northwest Accountability Project is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization dedicated to educating the public on the issues that enhance the well-being of middle-class families and workers while shining a light on extremism and the moneyed special interests that attempt to bring an agenda of hate and division to Washington and Oregon. More info at www.nwaccountabilityproject.org