The first full Federal Election Commission report for the new Tea Party super PAC, FreedomWorks for America, just became available to the public. The report indicates that in its first five months, the super PAC brought in serious cash, $2,697,973 to be exact. What the new report doesn’t say is almost as informative as what does.
The largest contributor, by far, to FreedomWorks for America was their non-profit 501(c)4 entity FreedomWorks Inc., which provided $1,336,778 much of it in in-kind contributions, including staff time, travel, compliance, legal help, etc.
Contributions like these from FreedomWorks Inc. to the FreedomWorks for America super PAC flow through a massive loophole in current campaign finance disclosure rules. It’s nearly impossible to determine where the $1.3 million contributed to FreedomWorks for America PAC came from, as non-profit entities like FreedomWorks Inc. are not required to disclose their donors to the public.
The second largest 2011 FreedomWorks for America contributor is also shrouded behind a corporate veil. A contribution of $250,000 is simply listed as “Crow Holdings, LLC” with no name or address given. Crow Holdings, LLC turns out to be a Dallas, Texas-based privately owned real estate investment management firm run by real estate baron Harlan Crow. Crow Holdings, LLC services endowments, foundations, pension plans, financial institutions, and “high net worth individuals.” Crow Holdings, LLC also contributed other super PACs, including $500,000 to American Crossroads, a super PAC founded in part by Republican strategist Karl Rove, and $150,000 to Restore Our Future, the Mitt Romney supporting super PAC.
The rest of the FreedomWorks for America major donor list reads like a who’s who of the 1%, including supporters of a variety of Tea Party causes and candidates.
Richard Uihlein, Chief executive of Uline, a Wisconsin-based shipping supply company, also gave $250,000 to FreedomWorks for American. Earlier in 2011, he also contributed $50,000 to controversial Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser’s election campaign.
Myrna Darland, of Bellevue, Washington, the wife of Michael L. Darland who co-founded the telecommunications company, Digital Systems Inc., contributed $50,000. So did Ann Kercheville, of Boerne, Texas, the chairman and chief executive of Kercheville & Company and President and co-founder of Joshua Creek Hunting Ranch.
Retired South Carolina businessman Conway Ivy also gave $50,000. In 2010, Ivy gave $4,900 to the FreedomWorks Inc. PAC and $605 to the Our Country Deserves Better – TeaPartyExpress.org PAC.
New York TV mogul Herbert Siegel (#380 on the 2007 Forbes 400, with a net worth estimated at $1.3 billion) and his son William Siegel each donated $25,000 to the FreedomWorks for America PAC in 2011.
Retired Georgia Gulf Corp oil tycoon John D. Bryan of Lake Oswego, Oregon made a $5000 contribution. Through his Challenge Foundation, Bryan has become a key figure in the right-wing assault on public education. His foundation has supported numerous organizations pushing for “school choice” and charter schools, both which serve to dismantle the foundations of public education.
Other causes supported by the foundation include countering “global warming alarmism” and promoting Christian teachings in higher education. Tax Records also show that the Challenge Foundation has donated $50,000 ($10,000 in 2008, $20,000 in 2009, and $20,000 in 2010) to the FreedomWorks Foundation. In 2011, FreedomWorks made “school choice” a top priority for the Tea Party faction, supporting efforts in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
Bryan is also a supporter of free market conservative groups. He is member of the leadership council of the conservative Club for Growth and a contributor to the Club for Growth PAC. He is a contributor to the CATO Institute. He is also listed as a participant in the 2010 Koch Brothers Aspen gathering. Like Koch Industries, one of the largest contributors to the campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who stripped away the collective bargaining rights of teachers shortly after taking office, Bryan has also donated $25,000 to the campaign.
The FreedomWorks Super PAC donor list looks like a “who’s who” listing of the far right. But how far right do they want to go? Do they want to promote John Birch Society events, like FreedomWorks staff does?