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Leaked Docs Reveal That Yes, ‘Grassroots’ FreedomWorks Is Pure Astroturf

Memo Pad Politics

Leaked Docs Reveal That Yes, ‘Grassroots’ FreedomWorks Is Pure Astroturf


Not that it’s any surprise to those of even average intelligence and perceptive capabilities, but as it turns out, FreedomWorks—the “grassroots” conservative organization that put the Tea Party on the map—is, well, not so grassrootsy!

According to a report in Mother Jones, leaked internal documents show that the so-called populist group that was billed as a spontaneous gathering of fed-up Joe Citizens is indeed more astroturf than real grass, and is financed mainly by big-money donors. Donors such as banker Richard Stephenson, founder of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and FreedomWorks board member, who, together with members of his family, donated $12 million in October via two newly-formed corporations that somehow found its way to FreedomWorks’ Super PAC—accounting for more than half of that Super PAC’s 2012 kitty.

A 52-page report prepared by the group’s bigwigs for a mid-December board meeting shows that FreedomWorks—including its 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit side and its Super PAC—had raised close to $41 million by that point… 81 percent ($33 million) of it “major gifts.” And 94 percent of that $33 million ($31 million) came from only 142 wealthy individuals who gave $10,000 or more. The nonprofit side—which does not have to disclose its donors—meanwhile funneled millions of dollars in “dark money” to its Super PAC arm to use for political purposes, an action which drew complaints to the FEC.

The report contains all sorts of fun stuff—read the entire PDF here—including a memo from CEO Matt Kibbe calling GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney an “old white guy.” He also says it’s time to remake the face of American conservatism to be “younger, more diverse, more substantive voices for freedom in America,” asking the guffaw-inducing question, “Can liberty, personal responsibility, and doing things for yourself be the new ‘cool’?”

Kibbe also advises FreedomWorks to cultivate “Ron Paul Millennials,” the rabid young fans of the GOP Libertarian, and reach out to blacks and Hispanics—two demographics regularly vilified by the organization’s rank-and-file—with a new “Black and Brown” tour.

The group was recently entangled in an ugly internal fight between Kibbe and then-chairman Dick Armey over the organization’s direction, which resulted in Armey resigning with an $8 million golden parachute—financed by the aforementioned Richard Stephenson—amid accusations of threats involving the use of firearms. (Although that incident involving Armey and his gun-toting associate drew no law-enforcement interest despite DC’s strict gun laws, Meet the Press host David Gregory was not so lucky after displaying an empty high-capacity magazine on air.)

Photo credit: ThinkProgress


  1. nobsartist January 5, 2013

    We should all make sure that their “tax exempt” status is revoked and its contributors audited.

  2. William Deutschlander January 5, 2013

    Most of the so called “Conservative Movement” is based on self enrichment and is a farce.

    1. RD January 5, 2013

      What is wrong with self enrichment, maybe you can think that far or maybe you believe that everyone should fed you.

      1. jointerjohn January 5, 2013

        Self enrichment is fine, until you dupe, prey upon and defraud others to accomplish it. Then it’s just despicable and that is what many of the most successful practitioners of “self enrichment” are doing now. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim by reading only words instead of complete sentences.

        1. Plznnn January 5, 2013

          Maybe according to your biased misinformation jointerjohn. Most people get wealthy the old-fashioned way, they work hard, are responsible with their money, stay out of debt and sacrifice. Now you want to tax them for their hard work & success. Are you living in China? In America that is the way it is supposed to happen, all of us have a chance at it. Maybe you would prefer the Federal Government telling you what car you may drive, the size of the house you may live in, and now of course, how much money you can make before they hit you with a penalty!

          1. jointerjohn January 6, 2013

            I got wealthy exactly the way you described. I did it honestly without skinning anybody. The taxes I pay are not a penalty, they are the fair price for enjoying a great country. It would do me no good to be singularly wealthy amongst a mass of starving peasants.

          2. Bill January 7, 2013

            John your last sentence should be the mantra for the entire country.

  3. Baron Cormac January 5, 2013

    What amazes me is people think this is news. Flash – it ain’t. Look at any one of these “Grass Roots” conservative groups that have popped up since November 6, 2008 and you will see just a few fingerprints on their organizations. What they did is bank on the inherrent racism and xenophobia of many conservative republicans to generate a movement that would have never gotten off the ground otherwise.

  4. wesley rasmussen January 5, 2013

    Any movemnet by the Tea Party, in my book, is only worth the paperwork it contains – and that, only AFTER flushing…

  5. Snowbeard January 5, 2013

    While it may not be news, it is important. Unfortunately we have little recourse. The FEC is a joke unworthy of laughter and congress has no right to be capitalized. Even the Supreme Court is of questionable repute.

    Maybe it is all worthy of laughter. After all, when things get too bad, isn’t a smile about all that’s left to ease thre spirit?

    When you have no confidence in the existin apparatus, it’s time to reorganize. We really do need to call for a Constitutional Convention.

    1. Michael Kollmorgen January 6, 2013


      There is a lot of stuff in the Constitution that needs to be revamped and re-stated for our time and needs.

      The outdated document is so outdated, it looks like a piece of Swiss Cheese. What is stated in it is mostly “concepts”, very few guarantees. And, what guarantees there are, are vague at best.

      Even our Bill Of Rights is somewhat of a joke.

  6. howa4x January 5, 2013

    They gathered the stupidest people in the country together, gave them 3 corner party hats and and sent them out to protest against health care reform, which was aimed to give protections for people like them and their families. Once they found a group that would litterly campaign against itself the door was open, for anything. Even unionism which only protects working people,
    and enviornmentalism which protects their children. They got them to vote for right to work for less money and pushed an anti science agenda so they couldn’t understand the science of climate change. This really says something about education in this country that adults can be so unaware of their government and surroundings. They can be a subject of a new Book called the Rich and the stupid. since that is what this is all about

    1. Michael Kollmorgen January 6, 2013

      Unfortunately, you are 100% correct!

      This is the current state of our country.

      Make sure people won’t or can’t get a good education. This is especially true with Science. Science ALWAYS trumps Religion.

      Make sure you can’t make a decent living wage to challenge the Status Quo.

      Keep people in poverty to make sure the upper crust stays well-funded.

      Keep people stupid and disenfranchise voters.

      Keep people at each others throats by using misinformation, bigotry and hatred.

      This is and always has been the usual tactic of the right wing and of conservatives in general.

      They would much rather have a society where each individual state is a KINGDOM, answerable only to themselves. There would be NO Federal Oversight of any of their laws and activities.

      The rest of us, the left over 90% would be living under servitude, total lack of education – basically nothing more than Peasants. And, the only knowledge anyone other than the top 10% would have, would come from the Church.

      This is starting to sound more and more like the Dark Ages in Europe. And, this is exactly what these people are trying to do and have done to a certain extent.

      The rest of us are total fools for falling for it.

  7. harkin January 7, 2013

    Why can’t they be clean, hard-working, independent Americans like the Occutards?

  8. jointerjohn January 7, 2013

    Thank you Bill, I believe that true wealth is not found in one’s singular largess over others, but rather is a collective condition. The best part of my philosophy is that it makes republicans’ heads explode, and that is a lovely sight indeed.


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