An Arlington, Virginia-based conservative group, Freedom Partners, has recently released information to POLITICO, revealing that the group’s purpose is to act as an outlet for ideas and funds of the Koch Brothers. The group, “whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics,” spends “time, money and resources” to influence public policy, POLITICO reports.
Freedom Partners reportedly has about 200 donors, each of whom pays a minimum of $100,000 in annual dues. Last year, the group raised and spent $250 million on shaping politics across the country. It was the second largest funding source for conservative groups in the last election, spending second only to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which spent a combined total of approximately $300 million.
The group’s president, Marc Short, told POLITICO that, while he would not reveal the individuals behind the fund, “Koch-linked entities” provide a “minority” of the funds. Short also said that the largest single donor gave about $25 million. Short gave POLITICO access to a draft of a soon-to-be public IRS filing for his group, which gave grants totaling $236 million:
The filing offers a rare tour of the conservative movement and how it gets its funds:
• Center to Protect Patient Rights, a group that vehemently opposes Obamacare: a total of $115 million, from three grants.
• Americans for Prosperity, an organizing and advocacy group that is courted by Republican presidential candidates: $32.3 million.
• The 60 Plus Association, a free-market seniors group that also opposes Obamacare: $15.7 million.
• American Future Fund, an Iowa group that spent a lot of money on ads in 2012, many for Mitt Romney: $13.6 million.
• Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, which gets involved in a number of social policy debates: $8.2 million.
• Themis Trust, a Koch-based voter database that is made available to other conservative organizations: $5.8 million.
• Public Notice, a fiscal policy think tank: $5.5 million.
• Generation Opportunity, a group for “liberty-loving” young people: $5 million.
• The LIBRE Initiative, which targets a free-market message to Hispanic immigrants: $3.1 million.
• The National Rifle Association: $3.5 million.
• The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $2 million.
• American Energy Alliance: $1.5 million.
• And several groups — including the State Tea Party Express, the Tea Party Patriots and Heritage Action for America — got less than $1 million each.
The group’s executive director is Richard Ribbentrop, a former head of the New York Stock Exchange’s Washington office, former chief of staff to Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and former legislative director to Phil Gramm (R-TX). While working for Hutchison, Ribbentrop hired Short, who later succeeded him as chief of staff. Their president of strategic communications is James Davis, who served as communications director for the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Short told POLITICO that most of his members are not household names, but simply people “concerned that the nation they grew up in and [the nation] that their businesses flourished in will not be there for their children and grandchildren.”
Freedom Partners is categorized under the 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status, which allows the identities of its donors to remain private while recipients and amounts of its grants are public.