FreedomWorks Board Report Leaked; Rush Limbaugh Subsidy Revealed!
The report confirms what we’ve said here all along: FreedomWorks is less grass roots and more astroturf than anything else, with the majority of its funding coming from corporate donors, foundations, and big money types. You may recall that Richard Stephenson of Cancer Centers of America is the sugar daddy who bought Dick Armey’s $8 million retirement. There’s more.
Big donations like Stephenson’s are business as usual for FreedomWorks. According to a 52-page report prepared by FreedomWorks’ top brass for a board of directors meeting held in mid-December at the Virginia office ofSands Capital Management, an investment firm run by FreedomWorks board member Frank Sands, the entire FreedomWorks organization—its 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit arms and its super-PAC—raised nearly $41 million through mid-December. Of that total, $33 million—or 81 percent of its 2012 fundraising—came in the form of “major gifts,” the type of big donations coveted by nonprofits and super-PACs. (FreedomWorks’ nonprofit components do not have to disclose their funders.)
There are lots of nuggets in the board report worth talking about and the Mother Jones report has many highlighted. But I want to give some attention to a small, easy-to-miss item that deserves more sunlight. Page 14 of the PDF lists development projects for 2013. Here’s the list:
Major Donor DVD Project
Glenn Beck Radio Ads
Glenn Beck TV (GBTV)
TheBlaze Action Center
FreePAC 2013 (six regional events)
Substantial FreedomConnector Upgrades
4th Annual Blog-Con
Bloggers & Blogger Outreach
Development Publications & Mailings
Activist Fly-Ins (quarterly)
Legislative Entrepreneur Events
FreedomConnector Mobile App
Upgrading Campaign Technology
Hill Briefings (retreat, meetings, breakfasts)
Rush Limbaugh Contract
What is the “Rush Limbaugh contract,” do you suppose? We already knew FreedomWorks stepped in to pick up some of the slack from lost advertising caused by the StopRush project, and it appears that Glenn Beck is also in need of some backchannel subsidizing. But why the differentiation between listing Glenn Beck’s advertising as an ongoing concern, and calling Rush Limbaugh’s subsidy a “contract”?
Why do I call it payola, you ask?
“The arrangement was simply FreedomWorks paid Glenn Beck money and Glenn Beck said nice things about FreedomWorks on the air,” Armey, the former House majority leader, told Media Matters Friday. “I saw that a million dollars went to Beck this past year, that was the annual expenditure.”
Armey, who left the organization this past fall after a dispute over its internal operations, said a similar arrangement was also in place with Rush Limbaugh, but did not know the exact financial details.
“I put it down now as basically as paid advertising for FreedomWorks by Beck,” Armey said, calling it a mistake.