Non-profit

FreedomWorks

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

52-1349353

Experian Number:

401135641

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $4,290,940
Expenses: $3,273,535
Assets: $1,292,271

FreedomWorks is a right-of-center advocacy organization that promotes limited government and low taxes, along with many other issues traditionally aligned with the Tea Party Movement strain of conservative activism that emerged in opposition to the Obama administration. The organization was originally founded as Citizens for a Sound Economy in 1984.

The organization funds grassroots political advocacy campaigns and provides research and education to activists and potential candidates. Much of the activity of the organization centers around criticizing left-leaning policies and Democratic politicians while pushing Republican politicians to take more conservative and libertarian stances on issues. The organization also has affiliate organizations that include the FreedomWorks Foundation, which focuses on think tank-style research projects, and FreedomWorks for America, a super PAC. [1]

Overview

FreedomWorks was founded in 1984 as the Foundation for a Sound Economy and in 1988 was transitioned from a 501(c)(3) charitable education organization to a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization and renamed Citizens for a Sound Economy. [2]

Citizens for a Sound Economy was founded and funded in its early years by libertarian businessman-philanthropists Charles and David Koch as well as corporations including tobacco companies Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds. Ron Paul was an early chairman of the organization. Citizens for a Sound Economy became one of the first organizations to coin the term “Tea Party” as a movement to oppose modern taxes and perceived government overreach by starting a U.S. Tea Party website in 2002, although the movement did not take off until 2009. In 2004, an internal rift led to it separating into FreedomWorks (and its affiliated organizations) and Americans for Prosperity, which became the heart of the Koch network’s political operation. [3]

Following the separation between Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity became the main outlet for political activities for Charles and David Koch and they ceased involvement with FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks in turn became a major catalyst in the formation of the Tea Party Movement, helping organize thousands of volunteers in opposition to various Democratic policies in the early days of the Obama Administration including stimulus packages and the Affordable Care Act. FreedomWorks deployed internet-organizing tools said to mimic those used by Barack Obama’s successful 2008 Presidential Campaign which allowed individuals to connect directly online and organize their own events. [4]

Projects and Affiliated Organizations

The FreedomWorks operation currently consists of three organizations: FreedomWorks, Inc., FreedomWorks Foundation, and FreedomWorks for America. The FreedomWorks Foundation acts as a research arm of the organizations, analyzing and providing support for free market policies, while FreedomWorks, Inc. acts as the advocacy and lobbying arm of the organization, organizing campaigns and applying pressure to members of congress. [5]

FreedomWorks for America is a super PAC that is controlled by the organization. The PAC solely spends money on independent expenditures to create ads supporting certain conservative Republican candidates for congress and runs attack ads against various Democratic candidates in competitive districts. Recent expenditures from the PAC have included ads supporting Republican U.S. House Members including former Reps. Dave Brat (R-VA), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), and Mark Meadows (R-NC) as well as Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Senators supported by the super PAC have Included Mike Lee (R-UT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Mike Braun (R-IN). During the 2020 election cycle, FreedomWorks for America spent $2.4 million in support of Republican candidates and under $400,000 against Democratic candidates, down from an all-time high of nearly $20 million total spent in the 2012 election cycle, where the group spent heavily on U.S. Senate races. [6]

FreedomWorks promotes a variety of center-right and free market policy reforms and has been a staunch supporter of policies enacted during the Trump administration. Policy areas that the organization focuses on include promoting school choice and charter schools, reform of government surveillance programs, term limits for members of congress, an audit of the Federal Reserve, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, among other topics. The organization offers materials about each of these topics as well as opportunities for activists to reach out to members of congress to promote FreedomWorks’ position on such issues. [7]

FreedomWorks was an ardent supporter of the policies enacted during the Trump administration. The organization issued a report at the end of Trump’s term that highlighted positive accomplishments of the administration. The report cited Trump-supported policies and judicial appointments that aligned with the group’s policy positions. Trump Administration accomplishments touted by FreedomWorks included judicial appointments, tax cuts, energy policy and pipeline construction, and criminal justice reform. [8]

2012 Leadership Dispute

In 2012, the organization experienced a public falling out between its chairman of the board, former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), and Matt Kibbe and Adam Brandon, who were FreedomWorks’ president and executive vice president respectively. The rift centered around a book deal that Kibbe had signed with HarperCollins for a book titled Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America. Armey was concerned that Kibbe had structured the deal to profit himself personally rather than the organization despite, according to Armey, using FreedomWorks’ resources, which Kibbe denied. The initial dispute resulted in Kibbe and Brandon being placed on administrative leave and having their cell phones taken away. Later, the dispute was resolved when Armey accepted an $8 million buyout backed by a longtime FreedomWorks donor to step down as chair of the board. The buyout was agreed to be paid out in twenty annual assignments of $400,000. FreedomWorks maintained that the dispute was simply about competing views concerning the direction of the organization. [9]

People

Adam Brandon currently works as president of FreedomWorks and its affiliates. Brandon started working at FreedomWorks in 2005 in a communications role and previously worked on political campaigns. [10] Brandon earned approximately $389,000 in annual compensation according to 2019 tax filings. [11]

Noah Wall is the current executive vice president at FreedomWorks. Wall previously worked for former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) 2013 campaign for governor. [12]

Conservative economist Stephen Moore acts as an advisor to the organization and chairs the group’s task force on economic revival. [13]

References

  1. “FreedomWorks History.” FreedomWorks. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.freedomworks.org/content/freedomworks-history ^
  2. “FreedomWorks History.” FreedomWorks. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.freedomworks.org/content/freedomworks-history ^
  3. DeMelle, Brendan. “Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaire Koch Brothers.” Huffington Post. February 11. 2013. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/study-confirms-tea-party-_b_2663125 ^
  4. Pilkington, Ed. “Republicans steal Barack Obama’s internet campaigning tricks.” The Guardian. September 18, 2009. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/18/republicans-internet-barack-obama ^
  5. “FreedomWorks History.” FreedomWorks. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.freedomworks.org/content/freedomworks-history ^
  6. “Freedomworks for America: Targeted Candidates, 2012 Cycle.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/recips.php?cmte=C00499020&cycle=2012 ^
  7. “Issues.” FreedomWorks. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.freedomworks.org/issues ^
  8. “Trump Administration Accomplishments.” FreedomWorks. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://fw-d7-freedomworks-org.s3.amazonaws.com/202009-TrumpAccomplishments-web-final.pdf ^
  9. Vogel, Kenneth. “Inside the Armey, FreedomWorks split.” Politico. December 4, 2012. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/dick-armey-freedomworks-president-clashed-over-book-deal-084599 ^
  10. “Adam Brandon.” FreedomWorks. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.freedomworks.org/content/adam-brandon ^
  11. “FreedomWorks: IRS Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/521349353/10_2020_prefixes_47-52%2F521349353_201912_990O_2020100717357232 ^
  12. “Noah Wall.” FreedomWorks. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.freedomworks.org/content/noah-wall ^
  13. “Stephen Moore.” FreedomWorks. Accessed January 28, 2021. https://www.freedomworks.org/content/stephen-moore ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1984

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $4,290,940 $3,273,535 $1,292,271 $2,197,446 N $4,223,785 $2,701 $374 $227,888
    2016 Dec Form 990 $6,309,996 $7,937,214 $1,223,027 $3,146,586 N $6,181,393 $22,919 $0 $242,559
    2015 Dec Form 990 $5,688,836 $9,027,929 $1,916,007 $2,212,348 N $5,463,134 $101,810 $0 $416,154 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $6,934,433 $8,037,765 $4,989,563 $1,946,811 N $6,816,233 $27,029 $0 $413,136 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $9,660,597 $10,884,146 $5,615,836 $1,469,752 Y $9,611,567 $0 $117 $291,069 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $15,060,009 $15,591,972 $7,571,717 $2,202,084 N $14,787,315 $265,554 $42 $673,518 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $10,045,782 $7,663,598 $7,089,540 $1,187,944 N $9,991,964 $0 $813 $975,803 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    FreedomWorks

    400 N CAPITOL ST NW STE 765
    WASHINGTON, DC 20001-1564