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 DeSmog. [4]

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

Donor 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2017 2016 Grand 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: [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

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. [31]

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.” [32]

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. [28]

“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.” [28]

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. [29]

“Protecting our environment and economic growth are not mutually exclusive,” he said in a statement. “The resolution presents a false choice.” [29]

The Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the measure when it was first introduced. [30]

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. [26]

“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[26]

Signatories include: [27]

Name Title Company
Brent Wm. Gardner Chief Government Affairs Officer Amer
Michael A. Needham CEO Heritage Action for America
Grover Norquist President Americans for Tax Reform
David McIntosh President Club for Growth
Nathan Nascimento Executive Vice President Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
Mark Scribner Senior Fellow Competitive Enterprise Institute
Jason Pye Vice President of Legislative Affairs FreedomWorks
Tom Schatz President Citizens Against Government Waste
Pete Sepp President National Taxpayers Union
Phil Kerpen President American Commitment
Mario H. Lopez President Hispanic Leadership Fund
Daniel Garza President The Libre Initiative
Carrie L. Lukas President Independent Women’s Forum
Heather R. Higgins President and CEO Independent Women’s Voice
Harry C. Alford President and CEO National Black Chamber of Commerce
Jeffrey Mazella President Center for Individual Freedom
Donald Bryson President Civitas Action
David Barnes Policy Director Generation Opportunity
Norm Singleton President Campaign for Liberty
Judson Phillips Founder Tea Party Nation
Seton Motley President Less Government
Kim Crockett, Esq. Vice President, Senior Fellow and General Counsel Center of the American Experiment
Tom Brinkman, Jr. Chairman Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST)
Matthew Kandrach President Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE)
Katie McAulliffe Executive Director Digital Liberty
Brett Healy President John K. MacIver Institute
Sean Noble President American Encore
Annette Meeks CEO Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
Andrew F. Quinlan President Center 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). [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]

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota listed the following contact information on its website: [25]

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

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

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. Data retrieved July 5, 2016.

  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. 

  25. Contact Us,” Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. Archived June 13, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6iFMMsO5n

  26. Americans 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

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

  28. 41 Conservative Groups Support Scalise/McKinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution,” Americans for Tax Reform, July 18, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  29. Nick 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

  30. Teaching opportunities from House Concurrent Resolution 119 (H.Con.Res.119)” (PDF), Citizens' Climate Lobby, April 30, 2018.

  31. Dear Senator Grassley, Senator Wyden, Representative Neal and Representative Brady:” May 9, 2019. Retrieved from The Daily Caller.

  32. Christ White. “CONSERVATIVES WARN LAWMAKERS: TESLA’S TAX CREDITSOVERWHELMINGLY BENEFIT THE RICH,”The Daily Caller, May 9, 2019. Archived May 9, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/qzvF3

Other Resources