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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 19, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 08
Groups challenge right-wing Freedom Foundation in complaint to AG
Section One
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Groups challenge right-wing Freedom Foundation in complaint to AG

Video shows Freedom Foundation plotting to elect Republican candidates

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A broad coalition of LGBT, human rights, and labor groups are challenging the tax-exempt status of the right-wing Freedom Foundation in a complaint to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed February 16.

Pride At Work, an LGBT labor organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO, has signed the complaint, along with the Northwest Accountability Project, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Progressive Majority Washington, the American Federation of Teachers Washington, the Washington State Council of Firefighters, Teamsters Local 117, and the Washington State Labor Council.

The complaint to Ferguson follows discovery of a videotape by the Northwest Accountability Project documenting statements by Freedom Foundation operatives that they are actively trying to help Republican candidates.

The video was shot at a fundraiser for Republican state Rep. Lynda Wilson and shows Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe and foundation staffer Scott Roberts explaining the right-wing group's strategy.

They want to attack labor unions with so-called right-to-work laws and other tactics, so unions will be unable to fund Democratic candidates, the two say. Working to elect Republicans and defeat Democrats would be a clear violation of IRS and Washington state rules for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations.

'Why are we focused on the labor unions?' McCabe asks in the video. 'They are by far the largest contributors to the Democratic Party.'

Later in the video, McCabe endorses the idea of keeping the Washington legislature under Republican control and even encourages donors in the room to contribute to specific races.

Scott explains that the Freedom Foundation attacks unions in order to force them to spend money defending their right to organize workers.

'Every dollar [unions] spend defending their idea is every dollar they don't have to spend against our good candidates,' he says.

The video is available at the Northwest Accountability Project website, nwaccountabilityproject.com.

The February 16 complaint is the second filed against the Freedom Foundation. Last year, a 24-page complaint from a dozen organizations demanded that the IRS revoke the group's tax-exempt status for 'flagrantly' disregarding federal laws banning intervention in political campaigns.

'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.'

Revoking 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 could be liable for additional B&O and other state taxes.

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