Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM)

Background

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) is a 501(c)(3) organization that describes itself as “an independent, non-profit educational and research organization that actively advocates the principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility, economic freedom, and limited government.”1Mission,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/OG10H

The group was founded in 2006 by its current CEO Annette Meeks, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for House Speaker Newt Gingrich.2Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Who’s in Charge: How Nationalized Corporate-Run Think Tanks Influence Minnesota Politics,” organizational report, November 13, 2013. Accessed at Scribd.

Stance on Climate Change

“The climate change debate has been hopelessly politicized by organizations like Environment Minnesota that distort science in order to advance a narrow political agenda.”3Jerry Stenger. “Report links severe weather to global warming,” Will Steger Foundation, September 13, 2010. Archived June 5, 2012. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/gQTjq

Funding

According to their website, “the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota does not accept any government grants or funding. Instead, we are proud to earn the trust and support of generous individuals, foundations, and corporations.”4Mission,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/OG10H

The following funding data comes from the Conservative Transparency project, which has compiled donations from publicly-available 990 tax forms. Note that not all values have been verified by DeSmog.5Freedom Foundation of Minnesota,” Conservative Transparency. Data retrieved July 5, 2016.

See the attached spreadsheet for additional information on the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota’s funding by year (.xlsx).

Donor20072008200920102011201220132014201520172016Grand Total
Donors Capital Fund$75,000$100,000$245,000$137,000$175,000$114,000$62,350$24,100$5,000 $30,500$967,950
State Policy Network$80,000    $59,000$40,000$20,000$20,000  $219,000
The Roe Foundation $10,000$15,000$15,000$15,000$20,000     $75,000
Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation         $47,000 $47,000
PhRMA     $25,000    $10,000$35,000
American Petroleum Institute     $10,000     $10,000
Grand Total$155,000$110,000$260,000$152,000$190,000$228,000$102,350$44,100$25,000$47,000$40,500$1,353,950

990 Forms

Key People

Staff

Past Staff

As of April, 2012:7Staff,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived April 24, 2012. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/skaq3

  • Jonathan Blake — Vice President.
  • Christina Pajak — Development Director.
  • Tom Steward — Investigative Director.
  • Evan Paskach — Research Associate.

Board of Directors

As of October, 2015:8Board,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/IgOFO

  • Jack Meeks
  • Brian Sullivan
  • Tony Trimble
  • Steve Knuth
  • Dirk Bak
  • Annette Meeks
  • Vin Weber

Past Board Members

As of April, 2012, additional board members included:9Board,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived April 10, 2012. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/pV7lj

  • Chris Georgacas
  • Kristin Ostrander

Actions

April 6, 2020

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, represented by Annette Meeks, was signatory to an American Energy Alliance letter to President Donald Trump supporting the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule which would scrap federal fuel economy mandates under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program.10CAFE-Coaliton-to-Trump-April-2020-9 (PDF)American Energy Alliance.

Describing CAFE, the letter contends: “Those families and individuals who prefer or need trucks, SUVs, and crossovers pay more to subsidize those who buy smaller vehicles or electric vehicles under the existing mandate. This significant, needless, and unjust cost is a very real regressive tax on American families that has made our country worse off.”11CAFE-Coaliton-to-Trump-April-2020-9 (PDF)American Energy Alliance.

May 9, 2019

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, represented by Annette Meeks, signed on to an open letter organized by the American Energy Alliance designed to fight against an electric vehicle tax credit.12Dear Senator Grassley, Senator Wyden, Representative Neal and Representative Brady:” May 9, 2019. Retrieved from The Daily Caller.

“The American Energy Alliance has organized a coalition to proclaim in one unified voice that there should be no expansion of the misguided electric vehicle tax credit,” Thomas Pyle wrote in a statement, quoted at The Daily Caller. There is no question that the electric vehicle tax credit distorts the auto market to no gain.”13Christ White. “CONSERVATIVES WARN LAWMAKERS: TESLA’S TAX CREDITS ‘OVERWHELMINGLY BENEFIT THE RICH’,”The Daily Caller, May 9, 2019. Archived May 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qzvF3

According to Pyle and others who signed the letter, electric vehicle tax credits “overwhelmingly benefit the rich.” DeSmog’s Koch vs. Clean project has systematically debunked this, among other well-rehearsed talking points and misinformation put forward by industry about electric vehicles. 

The letter cites research by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a group that has received over $600,000 from ExxonMobil and millions from “dark money” groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund

July 18, 2018

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, represented by Annette Meeks, was among signatories of a letter supporting an anti-carbon tax resolution from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va. 1441 Conservative Groups Support Scalise/McKinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution,” Americans for Tax Reform, July 18, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

“We oppose any carbon tax. We oppose a carbon tax because it would lead to less income and fewer jobs for American families,” the letter read. “We support the House Concurrent Resolution in opposition to a job-killing carbon tax and urge members to co-sponsor and support this effort.”1541 Conservative Groups Support Scalise/McKinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution,” Americans for Tax Reform, July 18, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The resolution would call a carbon tax “detrimental to the United States economy.”E&E News reported it was similar to a measure that passed the House in 2016. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, co-chairman of the Climate Solutions Caucus, said he would not vote for the resolution.16Nick Sobczyk. “House voting on anti-carbon-tax measure: ‘Pass the popcorn’,” E&E News, July 16, 2018. Archived Aug 2, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/aTP8h

“Protecting our environment and economic growth are not mutually exclusive,” he said in a statement. “The resolution presents a false choice.”17Nick Sobczyk. “House voting on anti-carbon-tax measure: ‘Pass the popcorn’,” E&E News, July 16, 2018. Archived Aug 2, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.fo/aTP8h

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the measure when it was first introduced.18Teaching opportunities from House Concurrent Resolution 119 (H.Con.Res.119)” (PDF), Citizens’ Climate Lobby, April 30, 2018. Archived at DeSmog.com.

February 12, 2018

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota was one of several organizations to join Americans for Prosperity (AfP) in a coalition opposing a federal gas tax increase.19Americans For Prosperity Leads Coalition Against Gas Tax Hike,” Americans for Prosperity, February 12, 2018. Archived February 20, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/vNQMN

“Raising the gas tax is a bad idea. It will make the burden of government on families and businesses heavier,” the coalition’s open letter read.20Americans For Prosperity Leads Coalition Against Gas Tax Hike,” Americans for Prosperity, February 12, 2018. Archived February 20, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/vNQMN

Signatories include:21“Dear Representative:” (PDF), Americans for Prosperity, February 12, 2018.

NameTitleCompany
Brent Wm. GardnerChief Government Affairs OfficerAmer
Michael A. NeedhamCEOHeritage Action for America
Grover NorquistPresidentAmericans for Tax Reform
David McIntoshPresidentClub for Growth
Nathan NascimentoExecutive Vice PresidentFreedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
Mark ScribnerSenior FellowCompetitive Enterprise Institute
Jason PyeVice President of Legislative AffairsFreedomWorks
Tom SchatzPresidentCitizens Against Government Waste
Pete SeppPresidentNational Taxpayers Union
Phil KerpenPresidentAmerican Commitment
Mario H. LopezPresidentHispanic Leadership Fund
Daniel GarzaPresidentThe Libre Initiative
Carrie L. LukasPresidentIndependent Women’s Forum
Heather R. HigginsPresident and CEOIndependent Women’s Voice
Harry C. AlfordPresident and CEONational Black Chamber of Commerce
Jeffrey MazellaPresidentCenter for Individual Freedom
Donald BrysonPresidentCivitas Action
David BarnesPolicy DirectorGeneration Opportunity
Norm SingletonPresidentCampaign for Liberty
Judson PhillipsFounderTea Party Nation
Seton MotleyPresidentLess Government
Kim Crockett, Esq.Vice President, Senior Fellow and General CounselCenter of the American Experiment
Tom Brinkman, Jr.ChairmanCoalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST)
Matthew KandrachPresidentConsumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE)
Katie McAulliffeExecutive DirectorDigital Liberty
Brett HealyPresidentJohn K. MacIver Institute
Sean NoblePresidentAmerican Encore
Annette MeeksCEOFreedom Foundation of Minnesota
Andrew F. QuinlanPresidentCenter for Freedom and Prosperity

March 21–23, 2012

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute‘s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7).22Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on Climate Change. Archived May 10, 2012. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/VAY3r

DeSmogBlog found that co-sponsors of the conference had collectively received over $67 Million from ExxonMobil, Koch, and Scaife family foundations.23A Closer Look at Heartland’s ICCC7 Denial-a-Palooza Speakers and Sponsors,” DeSmog, May 23, 2012.

March 2012

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) released an “Accountability Alert” that attempts to discredit Minnesota environmental groups for opposing the Keystone oil pipeline.24FFM Bulletin 3/30/12”, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/pDogX

September 2011

In 2011, MPR and Slate magazine reported that FFM had hidden its connection to Minnesotans for Fair Redistricting, a group trying to influence state redistricting to favor Republican candidates. Annette Meeks maintained that she had no involvement in Minnesotans for Fair Redistricting, but FFM board member Chris Georgacas headed the group while another board member, attorney Tony Trimble, worked closely with its law firm to develop redistricting plans.25Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Who’s in Charge: How Nationalized Corporate-Run Think Tanks Influence Minnesota Politics,” organizational report, November 13, 2013. Accessed at Scribd. 26Olga Pierce, Jeff Larson and Lois Beckett. “The Hidden Hands in Redistricting: Corporations and Other Powerful Interests,” ProPublica, September 23, 2011. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/5dmU4 27Tom Check. “Former MN Republican Party Chair backs Ron Paul,” Minnesota Public Radio, February 3, 2012. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/xYGmv

June 30–July 1, 2011

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota was a co-sponsor (PDF)  of the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC6) in Washington, DC.28Sixth International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF), the Heartland Institute. Archived July 25, 2015.

DeSmogBlog concluded that 17 of the 43 sponsors of the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, including the Heartland Institute itself, had collectively received over $46 million from either Scaife Foundations, Koch Foundations, or ExxonMobil.29Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-Palooza 6: Heartland’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Courtesy of Koch, Scaife & Exxon,” DeSmog, June 30, 2011. 

May 16–18, 2010

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota was a co-sponsor (PDF) of the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4) in Chicago, Il.304th International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF), The Heartland Institute. 

DeSmogBlog found that 19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) had received a total of over $40 million in funding from ExxonMobil and right-wing foundations.31Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-palooza Round 4: ‘International Conference on Climate Change’ Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries,” DeSmog, May 13, 2010.

October 18, 2009

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) hosted the Minnesota premiere of the film “Not Evil Just Wrong” which reported to reveal “true costs of global warming hysteria, and how extreme environmentalism threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of millions in the developed and developing world.”32“FFM Bulletin 9/28/09,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/BQBkV

August 31, 2009

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) sponsored the “Minnesota Energy Citizens’ Rally,” which brought people together to discuss how “Climate change legislation being considered in Washington DC means economic pain for Minnesota.”33FFM Bulletin 8/25/09”, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Leyra

June 2, 2009

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute‘s Third International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC3) in Washington, DC.34Co-Sponsors,” Third International Conference on Climate Change. Archived July 14, 2010.

March 8–10, 2009

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute‘s 2009 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2).35Co-sponsors,” The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, February 10, 2009. Archived February 27, 2009.

DeSmogBlog researched the conference’s sponsors and found that sponsor organizations had received over $47 million in funding from energy companies and right-wing foundations, with 78% of that total coming from Scaife Family foundations.36Heartland Institute’s 2009 Climate Conference in New York: funding history of the sponsors,” DeSmog.

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota listed the following contact information on its website:37Contact Us,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived June 14, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/papVS

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
Renaissance Square
520 Nicollet Mall, Suite 510
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Phone: 612-354-2160
Email: [email protected]

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