Freedom Partners Chamber Of Commerce
- Location: Arlington, VA
- Tax-Exempt Status: 501(c)(6)
- EIN: 45-3732750
- Website: http://freedompartners.org/
Called the “Koch brothers’ secret bank” by Politico, Freedom Partners is a mysterious 501(c)(6) “trade association” that donated more than $235 million to conservative groups in 2012, making it the “largest sugar daddy for conservative groups in the last election.” Originally formed in 2011 as the Association for American Innovation, Freedom Partners was almost completely unknown until September 2013, when it posted its first IRS Form 990 on a new website and voluntarily disclosed some vague information to reporters.
A complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington noted that Freedom Partner’s 501(c)(6) status was likely a way to avoid disclosing contributions to the government. While 501(c) organizations have to disclose the grants, gifts, and contributions they receive to the government, 501(c)(6) groups do not have to disclose “membership dues” they receive from “members” of their “trade association.” Thus, Freedom Partners is able to collect and spend hundreds of millions of dollars while reporting very little information to the government on where it came from.
In November 2015, The Hill noted that depite the Koch brothers’ insistence that the majority of their spending was not political in nature, Freedom Partners followed a clear election-year/off-year cycle. In 2012, a presidential election year, the group spent nearly $250 million. In 2013, an off year, the group spent $22 million. In 2014, a midterm election year, the group’s spending ticked back up to $129 million.
Between 2012 and 2014, Freedom Partners funneled nearly $350 million dollars to various organizations whose overwhelming priority was to elect Republicans. Its main function was the financial hub of the core Koch front-groups: Americans for Prosperity received more than $55 million over those three years, the LIBRE Initiative received more than $12 million, Concerned Veterans for America received more than $20 million, and Generation Opportunity received more than $25 million.
As the Kochs insisted that they were “socially liberal” and focused only on economic issues, Freedom Partners contributed more than $1 million to CitizenLink, the electoral politics-focused arm of Focus on the Family; more than $11 million to a mysterious dark-money group, Evangchr4 Trust, which then funneled most of that money into CitizenLink; and another $375,000 to the radically anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List. FP also contributed around $9.5 million to the National Rifle Association.
Freedom Partners is helmed by Marc Short, a Koch operative who was previously the House Republican Conference’s chief of staff, and three Koch Companies veterans serve on its board of directors. Politico’s Ken Vogel noted that “Koch World pays well” – given Short received $794,000 in compensation from Freedom Partners in 2014.