The Failure of “Freedom” Foundation’s CEO Tom McCabe

Washington state-based political operative Tom McCabe has a pattern. Time and again, he has forced the organizations he helms to take extreme, unwinnable positions and then finds a way to get the money flowing into his own pocket. Faced with the impossible, the organization inevitably runs off a cliff while McCabe laughs all the way to the bank. Piloting the so-called “Freedom” Foundation and their head-scratching fight against health measures that slow COVID-19 infection, he’s about to do it again.

McCabe first drew notice as Executive Vice President of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), a home builders trade association. There, he supervised a profitable scheme that siphoned millions of dollars per year from association members into BIAW’s political coffers. McCabe used the money to wage losing battle after losing battle: most notably dumping over $7 million into Dino Rossi’s failed 2008 gubernatorial campaign and $1 million to unsuccessfully oust Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander. McCabe’s partisan crusade drew so many self-inflicted and expensive lawsuits that he eventually left the BIAW. But not before he coerced a $1.25 million buyout to smooth his exit.

A few years later, McCabe resurfaced as CEO of the Olympia-based “Freedom” Foundation with a pledge to “bankrupt the unions.” His promise fell perfectly in line with their largest donor, the far-right Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With a nearly $900 million warchest, Bradley is working to implement an extreme right-wing agenda across the country. One of their goals is to remove public sector unions and to help pro-corporate Republicans win elections.

McCabe’s group cashes over $6 million in checks each year from extremist donors like Bradley, who have yet to see any return on their investment. Unionization is surging in Washington and Oregon while Republicans are losing worse in the local polls than ever. Union popularity is on the rise because they’re fighting for workers on the front lines, especially during the pandemic crisis. The only real success story from the “Freedom” Foundation is for McCabe personally, who continues to enjoy his quarter of a million dollar annual salary plus benefits and has placed his friends of the family on payroll.

With his anti-union crusade a failure, McCabe has chosen a new profitable, dead-end fight: a war on public health. Common sense says there are simple and proven methods that we can all employ to slow down the COVID-19 pandemic — wearing a mask over our face and socially distancing. Even though our country has grimly surpassed 150,000 deaths from the virus, the “Freedom” Foundation is launching lawsuits to keep masks off and to gather huge groups of people together. McCabe has tied an organization, again, to the losing side but has found a way to make money doing it. And they aren’t hiding their fundraising drive — it’s right there front and center on the COVID section of their website.


There is a slice of the population that cannot seem to believe that masks actually work, or don’t feel that others’ health is important or that masks are a government mind control device. This fringe group is the new fundraising pool for Tom McCabe, he’s even set up a separate Facebook group to fleece them.

McCabe’s career formula is simple actually, and while it fails for his organizations, it’s quite successful for his pocketbook and his cronies. Pick an impossible task, find the most desperate partisans to give him money, and then make the ride last for years. He’s lost in the polls, he’s lost against organized labor and he’s about to lose again, this time against a killer virus. McCabe fashions himself the champion of the extremists in the margins, paid to fight battles that can’t be won. He seems to know all too well that unwinnable wars can go on indefinitely, which means more money is needed every year. His organizations keep losing but McCabe keeps getting paid.