The Thirteen Foundation

The Thirteen Foundation

Background

The Thirteen Foundation is run by Farris Wilks and his wife JoAnn Wilks, and has acted as a major funder of the religious right as well as organizations affiliated with the Koch brothers. Farris and his brother Dan Wilks made their fortune selling their hydraulic fracking business, Frac Tech, in 2011 for $3.5 billion to the Singapore government. According to Forbes, Farris Wilks and Dan Wilks were each worth $1.4 billion as of December 2017.  [1], [2]

In 2011, Farris and JoAnn each contributed $50 million to The Thirteen Foundation. According toThe American Prospect, the foundation then gave gifts that “amount to a massive infusion of funds into some of the most aggressive right-wing organizations that are fighting legal equality for LGBT people, access to contraception and abortion services for women, and promoting the Tea Party’s vision of a federal government that is constitutionally forbidden from protecting American workers, consumers, and communities by regulating corporate behavior.” [3]

CNN reported that John Francis, a family son-in-law, now heads the foundation, however “their philanthropy is very much a family affair. It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to face questions from a half-dozen Wilks family members when asking for money.” [4]

As noted at Inside Philanthropy, The Thirteen Foundation does not have a website and is low-profile, although tax filings are publicly available. [5]

Funding Climate Change Denial

Dan and Farris Wilks are two of the largest funders of PragerU (AKA “Prager University”). The Thirteen Foundation gave $1 million to the foundation in 2015, while Wilks has given at least $120,000 through the Heavenly Fathers Foundation, according to publicly available 990 forms reviewed by DeSmog. [6]

PragerU, which by its own admission is not an accredited academic institution, was created by conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager who has “historically fought against what he describes as ‘liberal’ evils—marriage equality, feminism, and multiculturalism.” According to its 2014 annual report, PragerU was advancing with the specific goal of targeting middle school and high school children with its views. [6], [7]

The group’s “Environmental Science” course is dominated by climate change deniers such as Alex Epstein, Bjorn Lomborg, Patrick Moore, and Richard Lindzen. [8]

Dennis Prager has called campus rape a  “gargantuan lie to get votes” and “nonsense” promoted by the “feminist left.” [9]

Koch Network

The Thirteen Foundation has funded American Majority, the Franklin Center, the Heritage Foundation, and the State Policy Network, all which are also part of the Koch brothers’ political network. [10]

Anti-Abortion

The Thirteen Foundation has been described as “one of the biggest and quietest anti-abortion donors in the United States.” [11]

The Thirteen Foundation has given more than $2 million to anti-abortion activist organisation Life Dynamics Inc. (LDI) since 2011. In 2013, Mother Jones documented the group’s tactic of sending thousands of DVDs to lawyers, enticing them to sue abortion doctors. The group was also known for its “intelligence” efforts. [12]

Founder Mark Crutcher explained in a 2005 interview: [13]

“When I started Life Dynamics, one of the things I looked around for was what I perceived as holes in the (pro-life) effort. I had no interest in creating another pro-life organization to duplicate the efforts of the existing organizations. One of the things I noticed was that the pro-life movement had never developed a really sophisticated or professional counter-intelligence or intelligence-gathering mechanism. Everything we did on that front was somewhat haphazard and amateurish. That was something I knew something about …

I developed some of my own strategies for getting information … The revelations about the abortion industry being involved in the marketing of baby parts … We were the organization that brought that information out. We were undercover in an abortion clinic in Oberland, Ks. for 31 months and were able to come out with information and documentation to prove that there was this grisly trade in aborted parts of babies. Our child predator campaign was another investigation with aspects that were undercover.” [13]

LDI was also behind “The 800 Club,” a program that gave members the toll-free numbers of more than two hundred abortion providers. “Obviously, some pro-life activists may choose to repeatedly call these numbers for the purpose of harassing these abortionists or creating what might be called an ‘electronic rescue’ of the abortion mill,” a brochure describing the program suggested. In order to avoid identification, the brochure also hinted that such calls could be made from public pay phones. [14]

The Thirteen Foundation also gave over $2.2 million to Media Revolution Ministries, allowing the group to grow substantially. One of their efforts was to misdirect Google searches for abortion to pro-life centers through their initiative, OnlineforLife, which appears to have morphed into the Human Coalition. In 2011, Media Revolution Ministries’ budget was $80,000. It’s budget jumped by $2.4 million in 2012 after donations from the Thirteen Foundation. [10], [15]

Anti-LGBT

The Thirteen Foundation gave $1.4 million to Focus on the Family. The group’s vice president has called the gay rights movement “one of the great threats to our religious liberty.” The Foundation also gave $859,000 to The Family Research Council, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-gay hate group. [16], [17]

Stance on Climate Change

The Thirteen Foundation does not appear to have a stated stance on climate change, however, a number of groups that they fund have spent money denying the existence of man-made climate change. The State Policy Network supports the work of many of the most vocal think tanks that are promoting climate change skepticism including the Heartland InstituteCato Institute, and Heritage Foundation

PragerU (Prager “University”) has a wide range of videos promoting the views of climate change deniers including Alex Epstein, Patrick Moore, Richard Lindzen, Bjorn Lomborg, and others. PragerU is also anti-abortion.

Funding

The following is based on data collected from publicly available 990 forms, and from the Conservative Transparency project. Note that not all individual funding values have been verified by DeSmog. See the attached spreadsheet for additional information on The Thirteen Foundation’s funding by year (.xlsx). [18]

Recipient 2010 2011 2012 2015 Grand Total
National Christian Foundation       $134,166,666 $134,166,666
Wallbuilders   $85,000   $3,135,000 $3,220,000
Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry (Holts Summit MO)   $75,000 $408,023 $2,043,820 $2,526,843
Online for Life       $2,500,000 $2,500,000
Media Revolution Ministries     $2,242,857   $2,242,857
American Majority     $2,114,100   $2,114,100
Liberty Counsel   $500,000 $500,000 $1,000,000 $2,000,000
Life Dynamics   $550,000 $725,000 $350,000 $1,625,000
State Policy Network     $1,526,125   $1,526,125
Vineyard Community Church       $1,511,931 $1,511,931
Focus on the Family   $300,000 $1,100,000   $1,400,000
Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity     $1,309,775   $1,309,775
Life Outreach International Association       $1,250,000 $1,250,000
Family Talk       $1,000,000 $1,000,000
Prager University Foundation       $1,000,000 $1,000,000
Family Research Council   $265,000 $265,000 $329,000 $859,000
The Heritage Foundation   $200,000 $500,000   $700,000
Shalom Assembly of Yahweh       $624,628 $624,628
Yahweh’s Assembly in Messiah (Rocheport MO)   $166,000 $100,000 $278,360 $544,360
Shalom Assembly of Yahweh (Rock Falls IL)     $479,428   $479,428
Texas Right To Life Committee Educational Fund   $150,000 $160,000 $150,000 $460,000
Care Net   $450,000     $450,000
Assembly of Yahweh 7th Day (Cisco TX)   $46,000 $395,000   $441,000
Trinity Baptist Church       $393,500 $393,500
Texas Home School Coalition   $150,000 $100,000 $100,000 $350,000
Assembly of Yahweh (Eaton Rapids MI)   $150,000 $100,000 $75,000 $325,000
Eastland County Crisis Center     $182,797 $131,502 $314,299
Museum of the Bible       $250,000 $250,000
Yahweh’s Frystown Assembly   $150,000 $50,000 $34,908 $234,908
Wounded Warrior Project   $215,000     $215,000
River of Life Church (Eastland TX)   $200,000 $5,000   $205,000
Prime Time Christian Broadcasting $100,000 $100,000     $200,000
Heartbeat International   $172,000 $25,000   $197,000
Eastland County Open Door (Cisco TX)   $67,000 $90,023   $157,023
Eastlast County General Fund     $100,000   $100,000
The Solid Rock     $100,000   $100,000
National Institute of Marriage   $75,000     $75,000
First Assembly of Yahvah (Emory TX)   $50,000 $12,000   $62,000
Yahweh International Ministry       $60,000 $60,000
Rising Star Volunteer Fire Department   $25,000 $25,000   $50,000
Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law     $50,000   $50,000
40 Days for Life   $20,000 $20,000   $40,000
Faith Baptist Church (Cisco TX)   $27,000     $27,000
Eastland Volunteer Fire Department     $25,000   $25,000
Cisco Fire Department     $25,000   $25,000
A Woman’s Heart A Child’s Life (Greenville TX)   $25,000     $25,000
Africa for Yahwh Ministries       $19,500 $19,500
Cross Timbers Pregnancy Care Center     $15,000   $15,000
Heartbeat of Miami     $10,000   $10,000
Northside Baptist Church       $10,000 $10,000
Combat Marine Outdoors   $10,000     $10,000
Eastland County eTeen   $5,000 $5,000   $10,000
First Baptist Church Cisco (Cisco TX)     $7,000   $7,000
Kenya Mission     $6,196   $6,196
Carbon Camp Corporation     $5,000   $5,000
Gunsight Baptist Church (Eastland TX)     $5,000   $5,000
Living Truth Church of God (Eastland TX)     $5,000   $5,000
Hamilton County Carenet     $5,000   $5,000
Mountain Top Church (Cisco TX)     $5,000   $5,000
Church of the Nazarene (Cisco TX)     $5,000   $5,000
Church of Christ (Cisco TX)     $5,000   $5,000
Calvary Baptist Church (Cisco TX)     $5,000   $5,000
Second Baptist Church (Ranger TX)     $5,000   $5,000
The Pentecostals of Eastland (Eastland TX)     $5,000   $5,000
International Kingdom Builders Fellowship (Eastland TX)     $5,000   $5,000
Firstfruits Christian Fellowship (Gorman TX)     $5,000   $5,000
New Missions Inc   $4,680     $4,680
Revival of Faith Ministries     $3,000   $3,000
Gideons International       $1,000 $1,000
Grand Total $100,000 $4,232,680 $12,841,324 $150,414,815 $167,588,819

990 Forms

Key People

According to publicly available 990 forms:

Name 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Description
Farris Wilks Y Y Y Y Y Y Trustee
JoAnn Wilks Y Y Y Y Y Y Trustee
Jonathan Francis     Y Y Y Y Executive Director

Related Organizations

  • The Heavenly Father’s Foundation, run by Farris’s brother Dan Wilks, funds many of the same Far-Right organizations.

Contact & Address

According to the Thirteen Foundation’s 2015 990 tax forms:

The Thirteen Foundation
17010 Interstate 20
Cisco, TX 76437
Ph: (254) 850-3600

Social Media

The Thirteen Foundation is not active on social media, and does not maintain an online presence.

Resources

  1. Farris Wilks,“ Forbes, December 30, 2017. Archived December 30, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/6C1au

  2. Dan Wilks,” Forbes, December 30, 2017. Archived December 30, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/Ya0Kp

  3. Peter Montgomery. “Meet the Billionaire Brothers You Never Heard of Who Fund the Religious Right,” The American Prospect, June 13, 2014. Archived December 30, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/DRHI3

  4. Theodore Schleifer. “First on CNN: Billionaire brothers give Cruz super PAC $15 million,” July 27, 2015. Archived December 31, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/d3xUy

  5. Joan Shipps. “Farris Wilks: The Pro-Life Fracking Billionaire Bankrolling ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’,” Inside Philanthropy, December 22, 2014. Archived December 31, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/YARaN

  6. Bria Shea. “Fracking Titans Spend Millions Proselytizing School Children,” Rewire, April 30, 2015. Archived August 29, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/SphpV

  7. Frequently Asked Questions,” PragerU. Archived January 3, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/Q1jil

  8. What they Haven’t Told You About Climate Change,” PragerU, July 26, 2015.

  9. NRO‘s Dennis Prager: Campus Rape Culture Is A ‘Gargantuan Lie to Get Votes,’” Media Matters, October 30, 2014. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  10. Meet The Other Billionaire Brothers Funding Right-Wing Causes,” Crooks and Liars, February 11, 2014. Archived December 30, 2017. Archive.is URL:  https://archive.is/QJev2

  11. FYI: Major Anti-Abortion Groups Funded by Crusty Male Billionaire,” Jezebel, December 23, 2014. Archived December 31, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/zgIkW

  12. Kate Sheppard. “This Latest Effort to Close Abortion Clinics Is the Strangest One Yet,” Mother Jones, August 19, 2013. Archived December 31, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/rhziE

  13. Q & A with: Mark Crutcher,” The Interim, April 2005. Archived May 25, 2005. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/eC9mH

  14. Eleanor J. Bader and Patricia Baird-Windle. Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism, St. Martin’s Press, February 10, 2015.

  15. Sofia Resnick. “Navigating anti-abortion online strategy,” The Washington Independent, February 7, 2012. Archived July 21, 2014. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/CoApJ

  16. Miranda Blue. “Focus On The Family Spokesman: ‘Organized Homosexuals’ Ushering In ‘New Era Of Intolerance’,” Right Wing Watch, March 18, 2014. Archived December 31, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/SaZnL

  17. FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL,” Southern Poverty Law Center.

  18. The Thirteen Foundation,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed December 30, 2017.

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