We know who funds WFSE. It’s us – public employees covered by contract. But where does the Foundation get its funding? Let’s take a closer look.



The Freedom Foundation is a “think tank” that states its mission is to “advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.”[i]

The foundation is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit organization. As a result, they are not required to publicly disclose any of their contributors, and the Freedom Foundation has refused to say where their funding is coming from.

An IRS complaint has been filed, alleging the Freedom Foundation is actually an overtly partisan organization engaging in activities that are prohibited for nonprofit organizations.[ii]

In spite of the Freedom Foundation’s secrecy, researchers have been able to identify some of their donors.

Here’s a list of known Freedom Foundation contributors:


Co-founded by Whitney Ball and deeply connected to the Koch brothers,[iii] DonorsTrust provides a vehicle for wealthy donors who wish to conceal their identity.[iv] DonorsTrust has funded “the right’s assault on labor unions, climate scientists, public schools, economic regulations, and the very premise of activist government.”[v]

Donors Capital Fund

DonorsTrust refers clients to Donor Capital Trust if they are expected to open a donor-advised account in excess of $1,000,000.[vi]

State Policy Network

An umbrella organization spending more than $83 million each year that provides funding and support to more than 64 “free market think tanks” across the nation. SPN President Tracie Sharp is a founder of the Freedom Foundation.[vii] SPN receives funding from a wide array of corporations and foundations.[viii]

Searle Freedom Trust

Founded by Daniel C. Searle,[ix] the trust is funded by the inherited wealth accumulated by G.D. Searle & Company, a pharmaceutical manufacturer.[x] The trust’s purpose is to “foster research and education on public policy issues that affect individual freedom and economic liberty.”[xi]

Jacquelin Hume Foundation

Founded by Jack Hume, who earned his fortune as co-founder of Basic American Foods Inc.,[xii] the foundation’s mission is to support “free market solutions for education reform.[xiii]

Walton Family Foundation

Founded by heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, the foundation has been especially active on the issue of privatizing public education.[xiv]

Friedman Foundation for Education Choice

Founded by economist Milton Friedman, this foundation works to promote school vouchers and privatization.[xv]

Sarah Scaife Foundation

One of several foundations directed by Richard Mellon Scaife, whose “wealth was inherited from the Mellon industrial, oil, aluminum and banking fortune,” that fund a wide array of conservative think tanks. These foundations have also been linked to anti-immigration and anti-Muslim operations.[xvi]

Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

Founded by Harry Bradley, who was co-founder of the Allen-Bradley Company,[xvii] and who had ties to the John Birch Society and other extreme causes.[xviii]

Roe Foundation

Thomas Roe “accumulated his wealth as chairman of the board of Builder Marts of America Inc.”[xix] and he was founding chairman of the State Policy Network.[xx]

Foundation for Partnerships Trust

Founded by William Edgerly, former CEO of State Street Bank,[xxi] with deep ties to the charter school movement.[xxii]

Gilder Foundation

Founded by Investment banker Richard Gilder,[xxiii] who is past chairman of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.[xxiv]

American Legislative Exchange Council

The Freedom Foundation also has deep ties with ALEC.[xxv] ALEC is a national forum where corporate lobbyists and sympathetic legislators sit together to work out model bills that are then introduced in state capitols all across the nation.[xxvi]

ALEC is a multimillion dollar a year operation but, like all of the other entities described above, they are a nonprofit organization and not required to disclose their contributors.[xxvii] However, researchers have identified a multitude of corporations and lobbying interests that are active participants and donors.[xxviii]

Freedom Foundation staff were actively engaged in developing ALEC’s “State Budget Reform Toolkit” that offers a long list of “government efficiency” tools for legislators, including reforming state pensions, delaying step increases, and expanding privatization.[xxix] The Freedom Foundation has also introduced and lobbied on behalf of numerous ALEC bills intended to weaken the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions.[xxx]


[i] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Evergreen_Freedom_Foundation

[ii] http://nwaccountabilityproject.com/news/coalition-of-community-and-labor-groups-files-irs-complaint-against-freedom-foundation-for-blatant-violation-of-tax-exempt-charity-status/

[iii] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/DonorsTrust

[iv] http://www.donorstrust.org/who-we-are/mission-principles/

[v] http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/donors-trust-donor-capital-fund-dark-money-koch-bradley-devos

[vi] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Donors_Capital_Fund

[vii] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Portal:State_Policy_Network

[viii] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/SPN_Funding

[ix] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Searle_Freedom_Trust

[x] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/G.D._Searle_%26_Company

[xi] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Searle_Freedom_Trust

[xii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaquelin_H._Hume

[xiii] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Jaquelin_Hume_Foundation

[xiv] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Walton_Family_Foundation

[xv] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Friedman_Foundation_for_Educational_Choice

[xvi] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Scaife_Foundations

[xvii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Lynde_Bradley

[xviii] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Lynde_and_Harry_Bradley_Foundation

[xix] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Thomas_A._Roe

[xx] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Roe_Foundation

[xxi] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Evergreen_Freedom_Foundation

[xxii] http://www.politicalresearch.org/2002/07/13/the-pioneer-institute-privatizing-the-common-wealth/#sthash.qK3F0Gzg.dpbs

[xxiii] http://conservativetransparency.org/donor/gilder-foundation/

[xxiv] http://conservativetransparency.org/recipient/manhattan-institute-for-policy-research/

[xxv] http://whatisthefreedomfoundation.org/about.html

[xxvi] http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/What_is_ALEC%3F

[xxvii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Legislative_Exchange_Council

[xxviii] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/ALEC_Corporations

[xxix] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126785694/State-Budget-Reform-Toolkit

[xxx] http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Worker_Rights_and_Consumer_Rights




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