“Freedom” Foundation Takes $650k Federal Handout

This is an update to our original report from July 2020.

New records published by ProPublica show that the so-called “Freedom” Foundation (Opt Out Today) pocketed $650,000 in federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money during 2020. 

They claim their mission is “limited, accountable government” but the “Freedom” Foundation apparently makes an exception for big federal handouts.

The PPP money was meant for small businesses in a financial crisis that didn’t have access to big loans or billionaire funders. This hardly describes the “Freedom Foundation,” which already receives millions from some of the wealthiest far-right foundations in the country.

Disappointingly, this government payout fueled the “Freedom” Foundation’s ongoing fight against providing social safety nets for everyone else. Self-serving hypocrisy like this perfectly explains why their anti-worker propaganda has found no traction in the Northwest. 

Even worse, the so-called “Freedom” Foundation lives in a fringe, far-right culture with a long track record of ties to white supremacists, anti-immigrant leaders, and anti-LGBTQ organizations. They make it a habit of hiring extremists – like the one who was expelled from the Oregon Legislature for his role in the violent attack on Oregon’s Capitol in 2020, and another who was most recently seen in front of a swastika, riling up an anti-vaccine herd in Olympia.

Was it really employee payrolls like this that our government was trying to protect when they launched the PPP? 

Image captured from a security camera of Rep. Mike Nearman approaching a door at the Oregon State Capitol to let right-wing protesters into the building
Former Oregon Rep. Mike Nearman allowing armed demonstrators into the locked Oregon state Capitol in December 2020.
National Outreach Director, Matt Hayward, giving an anti-vaccine speech to far-right activists in front of a swastika at an October 2021 rally.