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.” [1]

The group was founded in 2006 by its current CEO Annette Meeks, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for House Speaker Newt Gingrich. [2]

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.” [3]

 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.” [1]

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 DeSmogBlog for accuracy. [4]

Donors Capital Fund $733,350
State Policy Network $79,500
The Roe Foundation $75,000
American Petroleum Institute $10,000
Grand Total $897,850

990 Forms

 

Key People

 Staff

Past Staff

As of April, 2012: [6]

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

Board of Directors

As of October, 2015: [7]

  • 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: [8]

  • Chris Georgacas
  • Kristin Ostrander

 Actions

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). [9]

DeSmogBlog found that co-sponsors of the conference had collectively received over $67 Million from ExxonMobil, Koch, and Scaife family foundations. [10]

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. [11]

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. [2], [12], [13]

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.  [14]

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. [15]

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. [16]

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. [17]

October 18, 2009

The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFMhosted 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.” [18]

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.” [19]

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. [20]

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). [21]

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. [22]

Related Organizations

 Resources

  1. Mission,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYCNlpYy

  2. Alliance 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.

  3. Jerry Stenger. “Report links severe weather to global warming,” Will Steger Foundation, September 13, 2010. Archived June 5, 2012.

  4. Freedom Foundation of Minnesota,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed October 25, 2015. 

  5. Staff,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYDGSkfq 

  6. Staff,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived April 24, 2012.

  7. Board,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYDR1dHF

  8. Board,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived April 10, 2012.

  9. Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on Climate Change. Archived May 10, 2012.

  10. Michael Fisher. “A Closer Look at Heartland's ICCC7 Denial-a-Palooza Speakers and Sponsors,” DeSmogBlog, May 23, 2012.

  11. FFM Bulletin 3/30/12”, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYCkLVER

  12. Olga Pierce, Jeff Larson and Lois Beckett. “The Hidden Hands in Redistricting: Corporations and Other Powerful Interests,” ProPublica, September 23, 2011. Archived October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYEyKnss

  13. Tom Check. “Former MN Republican Party Chair backs Ron Paul,” Minnesota Public Radio, February 3, 2012. Archived October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYFFCwwN

  14. Sixth International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF), the Heartland Institute. Archived July 25, 2015.

  15. Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-Palooza 6: Heartland's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Courtesy of Koch, Scaife & Exxon,” DeSmogBlog, June 30, 2011. 

  16. 4th International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF), The Heartland Institute. 

  17. Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries,” DeSmogBlog, May 13, 2010.

  18. FFM Bulletin 9/28/09”, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYCnVgwU

  19. FFM Bulletin 8/25/09”, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYCs9UuE

  20. Co-Sponsors,” Third International Conference on Climate Change. Archived July 14, 2010.

  21. Co-sponsors,” The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, February 10, 2009. Archived February 27, 2009.

  22. Heartland Institute's 2009 Climate Conference in New York: funding history of the sponsors,” DeSmogBlog.

  23. “Directory,” State Policy Network. Accessed October 25, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6cYCzqXG3

  24. Statehouse News Bureaus,” Franklin Centre for Government & Public Integrity. On file at SourceWatch. 

Other Resources