Freedom Foundation Testifies on IRS Rules Shielding Nonprofit Donors from Abuse

Freedom Foundation Testifies on IRS Rules Shielding Nonprofit Donors from Abuse

Freedom Foundation Testifies on IRS Rules Shielding Nonprofit Donors from Abuse

On Feb. 7, the Freedom Foundation was one of 16 national policy organizations invited to testify before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about a proposed rule change that would protect the privacy of citizens who support organizations who are often the targets of harassment from extremist groups. We were invited to testify because we have first-hand experience with these leftist groups, funded by big government unions, who harass the Board members and staff of the Freedom Foundation.

We don’t talk about it often because we aren’t consumed by them the way our “enemies” seem consumed by us.

That, and we’re busy doing our jobs — educating and helping free public-sector employees from union tyranny.

The proposed rule change at the IRS would remove a reporting requirement for qualifying nonprofit organizations, providing an added layer of privacy for citizens who want to support causes they believe in.

The Freedom Foundation would not be included in the qualifying organizations helped by the change, but we were happy to participate in support of private citizens and other organizations like The Heritage Foundation and Freedom Works.   (501C3 organizations, like the Freedom Foundation, are already exempt from disclosing donor information.)

Freedom Foundation testified about our own, very real experiences of being targeted and harassed by government union-backed groups attempting to drive away support and intimidate our employees and Board.

Describing various incidents of harassment and pressure campaigns, I was the only speaker who brought visual aids — including copies of letters and fliers mailed to the neighbors of our Board members, slandering them over politically charged issues that have nothing to do with Freedom Foundation.

I explained how union groups routinely picket Board members’ businesses, disrupting the day and attempting to shame and discourage their involvement with our important mission. Websites smear our Board members and their businesses and ask readers to send “tips” about them.

Here are just a few other examples;

A bogus ‘survey’ from the government front-group, Northwest Accountability Project, was sent to a Board member’s customers, asking leading and misleading questions designed to cause doubt and remorse in the previous business relationship and to harm future business prospects.

An ominous letter from Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) President Lee Saunders to Wells Fargo’s CEO threatening the bank because one of its vice presidents sits on the board of a foundation that supports Freedom Foundation.

Extra security precautions at our offices because unhinged activists sneak into our facilities. Employees have been swarmed by angry strangers in parking lots, followed to their cars and had pictures taken of their license plates.

I concluded my testimony by telling the panel these tactics are used to intimidate and bully people out of exercising their free speech rights and their desire to participate in cause-based activities. While Freedom Foundation will not be impacted by the proposed rule change, we are here to support those organizations that will benefit.

Some people are creeps and do creepy things, but they won’t change our resolve in our mission to educate every public employee about their rights not to financially support a government union.

In fact, attacks from government unions confirm what we already know. What the Freedom Foundation is doing is working. One of my life mottos puts it this way: “If you are over the target, you are going to take flack.”

Vice President of Communication and Federal Affairs
Ashley Varner brings a variety of public affairs experience and a tough skin to the Freedom Foundation team. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation, Ashley spent many exciting, turbulent and wonderful years as a media spokesperson and state government liaison at the National Rifle Association. Following her tenure at the NRA, Ashley joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where she worked with state and local lawmakers across the country on a diverse set of policy and communications issues. A grassroots activist from a young age, Ashley joined her first of many political campaigns before graduating high school and organized protests across the street from her own professors at the University of Missouri. When not rabble-rousing against Big Government, Ashley enjoys cooking, mafia movies, and has seen most of the 1970s and 80s classic rock bands still on tour. She loves the Chiefs, hopes someday she can love her Mizzou Tigers again, and she was a Kansas City Royals fan and Patriot Act opponent before either was cool.