FreedomWorks’ New Oregon Machine part i

This is part iHere is part iiHere is part iii.

Yeah. There’s a connection.

Does FreedomWorks own the Oregon Republican Party?

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to pick up the binoculars and look through them the wrong way: Oregon is a little state, vaguely lost out West to most Americans, and yet FreedomWorks (founded and funded by the Koch Brothers, and figureheaded by former GOP House Leader Dick Armey) finds Oregon incredibly interesting.

If we look through the binoculars backwards, and just focus on Oregon, FreedomWorksmodus operandi becomes much clearer AND THEN we can look back at the USA with the binoculars used correctly. Here’s a smoking gun for you: The FreedomWorks Foundation’s 2009 income tax return, their 990.

Holy guacamole.

I spent the summer taking tax courses to prepare to take the IRS’ Enrolled Agent test. During that time I didn’t have a lot of time to dig into old FreedomWorks tax returns, but the education has been useful, now that I DO have time again.

First, I want you to see the morass of interlinking organizations battling under the “FreedomWorks” banner. From page 39 of “FreedomWorks Inc.”s 2009 Federal Tax Return:

Notice that two organizations are specifically for Oregon

Already, it’s a morass of names and entities and tax returns. But all from the same address. This generally shocks the general public and draws yawns from the media, who know this but never seem to report it. It’s “too wonky,” or “too complicated.”

I’ve been through the returns, and the one to focus on here is the “FreedomWorks Foundation.”

Here is how interlinked and intertwined these entities are — and WHO could make the determination that using the same people in the same offices on the same equipment is this percentage “chartitable” (the 501(c)3 “Foundation”) and which is “political” (the 501(c)4 and 527s)  boggles the brain:

continuation of column above

In other words, as we scan the boards of directors and entity addresses, this is actually ONE organization, with ONE office, engaging in a wide variety of political operations using relevant parts of the tax code, and making a mockery of their intent. Let’s look at that “charitable” foundation (straight from the IRS, emphasis added):

Exempt Purposes – Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3)

The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.

Yeah.

(I’ll get back to those other entities, the 527s and the 501(c)4, but it’s bad enough that I had to learn this tax crap, and I’d like to spare you that. This is for laypersons only.)

And here, from FreedomWorks Inc.’s tax return is just HOW interconnected they are:

line 3 is a ‘Q’ and line 4 is an ‘O’
Note: image has been altered to save space

So, what percentage of FreedomWorks, Inc.’s total 2009 budget did this “space sharing” amount to?

They list:

total revenue:  $3,965,035
total expenses: $3,382,266
net 2009 gain: $312,561

So, $1,763,575 worth of “sharing” with FreedomWorks Foundation divided by $3,965,035 of total revenue for FreedomWorks Inc. equals 0.44478 or 44.5 percent of FreedomWorks Inc.’s revenue was “shared” with FreedomWorks Foundation, or 0.52172 or 52 percent of FreedomWorks Inc.’s operating expenses were “shared” with that tax-deductible “charitable foundation.”

It’s curious (but correct) that the Freedomworks Foundation doesn’t list the three 527 organizations as “related” but they engage in straight up political campaigning, and can’t be seen associating with a “charity” — at least on its tax return. Now, here’s some of their “charitable” activity from 2009 that you might recognize:

bottom of page 8 FOUNDATION’s 2009 return

Yup. The fully tax deductable “charity” (which means that YOU have to make up the difference in taxes for the donors’ “charity”) spent $216,775 to promote Glenn Beck’s/Fox News’ 9/12 rally in Washington D.C. last year. Yeah. That’s a “charity” just like the Red Cross or the Girl Scouts.

Original caption: Protesters march to Capitol Hill during
the Tea Party Express
rally on September 12, 2009
in Washington, DC. Thousands of protesters gathered
in Washington to march to the Capitol Hill to protest
high spending, higher taxes and the growth
of the federal government.

On your dime. (Carrying signs that read “YOUR MORTGAGE IS NOT MY PROBLEM!”)

Armey speaking at that 12 Sept. 2009 rally
(which, for $216,775 he certainly EARNED)

click for original

Some “charity.”

But it gets better. Here, we turn the binoculars around. Take a look at that line that says “Kevin Mannix PLC.” $154,000. I reported on this in 2007 (and noted the Koch connection):

(from “Mannix: Freedom Work$?” 12 NOVEMBER 2007)

Kevin Mannix FreedomWorks’ Highest Paid Subcontractor

Going through the Guidestar IRS 990′s (charitable tax returns online) for Freedomworks, for the past two years, we find that apostate Oregon Democrat, thence Oregon Republican Party Chair, nominee for Oregon Attorney General, and thence nominee for Oregon Governor (lost both), attorney Kevin J. Mannix of Salem, Oregon, was paid $200,089 for “Fundraising consulting” in 2005, and $70,989 in 2004 as one of a very small group of independent subcontractors.

Click HERE to take a look.

BlueOregon picked up on it (“What did Kevin Mannix do for $200,000?“),

from Mannix’s (perpetual) website today
Note the  “quote” of the FreedomWorks logo
and the old CSE logo:

and FreedomWorks OLD logo:

and the NEW logo:

and the (Portland) Oregonian uncovered further FreedomWorks payments:

From The Oregonian of Tuesday, March 18, 2008 – Mannix pays old debt as he preps for new race: Republican Kevin Mannix loans $347,000 to his campaign from his law firm
By Jeff Mapes and Dave Hogan

For years, Republican Kevin Mannix has owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign debts while waging what turned out to be three failed races for statewide office.

Now, just weeks after planning to run for Congress, Mannix has swiftly paid off $347,000 in debts with loans from his Salem law firm.

Mannix, who is running for the congressional seat left open by the surprise retirement of Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore, was able to pay off his creditors by “calling in the accounts receivables” from his solo law practice, according to his campaign manager.

[...]

One big source of legal work for Mannix has been FreedomWorks, the Washington, D.C.-based group that seeks lower taxes and less government regulation. The group reported paying Mannix $540,000 in legal and consulting fees from 2004 through 2006. The group’s 2007 report has not been filed…

Just to follow up from “charitable” FreedomWorks Foundation, Kevin Mannix has received:

2004: $ 70,989 (while OR GOP Chair)

2005: $200,089 (ditto)

2006: $268,650 (see illustration above)

2007: $ 85,000 (2007 tax return)

2008: $171,000 (2008 tax return)

2009: $154,000 (2009 tax return)
———————————————

GRAND TOTAL (reported since 2004):  $949,728.
=======================================

Let me say that again: $949,728

So, this year, Kevin Mannix may well pass the one million dollar mark in “work” done  for FreedomWorks — if he hasn’t done so already. $950,000 is a hell of a lot of money for a political operative in a small state (=3 million).  I think the reader will decide that probably says a lot.

mash note to FreedomWorks?

But more importantly, Oregon is the FOCUS of FreedomWorks’ state efforts, going back for many years.  In 2008, Mannix was the ONLY outside contractor reported by FreedomWorks (page 8), and the ONLY contractor consistently listed on every tax return from 2004 to present. (The others change year to year.)

This was a bit of a scandal in Oregon, and questions regarding Mannix’s FreedomWorks money had a decisive effect in killing Mannix’s 2008 Congressional campaign in the GOP primary. Here’s an anonymous comment on NW Republican from that 2008 primary. Clearly this was an issue:

… Strange, how Mannix worked closely with Freedom Works’ Russ Walker in that referral campaign, then subsequently, received hundreds of thousands of dollars for “services” from Freedom Works. And, Russ Walker winded up vice-chairman of the party.

If one didn’t know better, one could think Mannix wanted the legislative referral all along, so encouraged the “wayward 10″ in thinking they had political cover, so Freedom Works would have a “cause” to draw national money and gin up local membership and money in a succesful effort that polls predicted would be a “slamdunk” against the tax hike.

No, Mannix wouldn’t do that.

And, it wouldn’t be a problem, except that Mannix was the Chairman of the Oregon Republican Party at the time, yet, he “hung out to dry” those Republican legislators for his own selfish political and financial motives…

The issue got a lot of play in Oregon media. The Oregonian weighed in a March 23, 2008 editorial (scroll to the bottom):

… Mannix probably imagined one of his opponents running TV spots “asking how he expected to clean up the federal budget when he can’t do the same to his own finances.”

So he cleaned them up just days ago, quickly paying off $347,000 in debts with those murky loans from his solo law practice. His campaign manager told The Oregonian that Mannix was able to settle up with his creditors by “calling in the accounts receivables.”

And just who are those accounts? Mannix won’t say.

It’s just speculation, but those accounts may include FreedomWorks, the Washington, D.C.-based outfit that seeks lower taxes and less government regulation. From 2004 through 2006, the group reported paying Mannix more than a half-million dollars in legal and consulting fees.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. Nothing, that is, if the money was truly compensation for legal work as opposed to campaign contributions masquerading as attorney fees. But even if the fees were entirely legitimate, doesn’t the candidate owe Oregon voters an unlaundered accounting of who’s bankrolling his campaign?

That’s the problem with the way Mannix has mixed his political and business finances. It creates an opaqueness that seems aimed at disguising sources of his political support.

- “With Mannix, it’s hard to follow the money,” Oregonian, March 23, 2008

So, what’s the point of all this? Good question. To follow Mannix’s convoluted and tortuous financial/political trail, Democracy Reform dot org has a excellent detailed report (up through 2008), if you want to check further. I want to come back to FreedomWorks.

You see, Kevin Mannix was ALSO working as the Oregon Republican Party Chairman in 2005. FreedomWorks noted the change, quoting the Oregonian:

“STATE GOP UPGRADES NO. 2 TO CHAIRMAN ”

Attorney Vance Day is unanimously chosen to replace Kevin Mannix, who will run for governor
Date Published: July 17, 2005
Publication: The Oregonian
Author: MICHAEL MILSTEIN

Oregon Republicans elected Salem attorney Vance Day their new state party chairman Saturday after Kevin Mannix stepped down from the position to run for governor.

Day, who had been vice chairman, faced no opposition and was elected unanimously, said Amy Casterline, executive director of the Oregon Republican Party.

[...]

Mannix had announced last month that he would step down from the state party chairmanship in preparation for a planned race for governor.

[...]

Also Saturday, Republicans elected Russ Walker as party vice chairman. Walker heads the Oregon chapter of Freedom Works.

That group, formerly known as Citizens for a Sound Economy, led a successful effort to refer a tax increase passed by the 2003 Legislature to the ballot, where voters defeated it in 2004.

And Russ Walker remained Oregon State Republican Vice-Chair. Here’s the ORGOP website today:

@ the ORP website today

Richard Russell Walker is a bit hard to track, unless you know his full name. Sometimes, as in the FreedomWorks tax returns, he’s listed as “Richard Walker.”

Richard (Russell) Walker, FreedomWorks Oregon State Director 2008
from the FreedomWorks 2008 tax return (form 990)

Other times, he’s listed as R. Russell Walker, as Treasurer for Oregon FreedomWorks PAC in 2005:

Page 5, Oregon Freedomworks PAC 990 from the IRS website
( image has been altered to save space)

Somewhere else, he’s listed as Richard R. Walker. But it’s the same guy. “Russ” Walker has been a paid employee of FreedomWorks (and its prior incarnation, “Citizens for a Sound Economy”) going back to 2000. And it pays good. In 2009, Walker received $137,180 — note how the compensation is spread across several entities. The form 990 requires all compensation to be listed to stop money laundering:

Walker is now NW Regional Director for FreedomWorks as of 2009
(Ted Abrams will become important later. And yes it’s THAT Steve Forbes.)

$137,180 is not a bad paycheck for the Northwest Regional Director (formerly Oregon State Director) for FreedomWorks. But it gets still better.

Richard Russell “Russ” Walker at the 2009 Salem Tea Party

[Common Cause has an extensive tracing of Walker's activities if you want to dig into the details. "A Political History of Russ Walker and FreedomWorks" (October 2009) .pdf.]

You see,  Kevin Mannix, Russ Walker and Ross Day have new business. (Several entities, in fact.)

The Oregonian reported on August 01, 2009:

Ross Day is a boyish, earnest lawyer who says his mission is to rescue the most powerful political tool that conservatives have in Democratic-controlled Oregon: the ballot initiative.

Day has joined forces with two of the state’s top conservative political activists — former GOP gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix and anti-tax crusader Russ Walker — to form a petitioning firm and an accompanying think tank aimed at providing a steady supply of credible ballot measures.

[...]

In addition, the trio formed a for-profit petitioning firm called Voice of the Electorate, which they also refer to as Vote Oregon. Day, working out of office space donated by Mannix next to his law firm in Salem, is the chief executive of both nonprofits and the petitioning company….

That petitioning firm filled the void brought by Oregon’s reform of the petition-gathering process, when Über-signature industry giant, Mike Arno of Sacramento, announced that they would not do business in Oregon under the new No-Pay-Per-Signature law.

VOTE OREGON LLC and VOTE LLC have filled that void in the current election cycle.

Part Two will deal with this. (Like, I said, this is for laypersons. Already too many tax forms.)

But I want you to see the FreedomWorks connection to Ross Day, just to complete our triumvirate.

Here’s some more of that August 1, 2009 Oregonian piece:

Day, previously an attorney for the property rights group Oregonians in Action, said he has long thought that the conservative movement needed to take a more sophisticated approach to ballot measures.

Last year, Day approached Mannix, who agreed to help him get the organizations off the ground. They set up three inter-related organizations — two non-profits and a political action committee — under the shared name of Common Sense for Oregon. By having the different entities, they can engage in a wide variety of political and policy work.

[...]

Common Sense for Oregon has already filed 14 initiatives and has another three in the works, although Day said the group won’t try to qualify all of them for the ballot.
Day refused to say who is giving money to Common Sense, although the trio made it clear they hope their new operation proves attractive to big conservative donors such as Nevada businessman Loren Parks.

(Remember that name, Loren Parks.)

Here, from the Common Sense for Oregon website, today:

Ross Alan Day, Executive Director

Prior to joining Common Sense For Oregon, Ross served as the Director of Legal Affairs for Oregonians in Action, the largest private-property rights group of its kind in the nation. Ross served as the Director of Legal Affairs for Oregonians In Action from January of 2003 through Janaury of 2009.

And here, from the 2008 “Richard R. Walker, Treasurer” (page 7)  FreedomWorks Issues PAC’s tax return, page 13 here is a $10,000 contribution from Oregonians in Action:

Ross Day’s employer at the time, Oregonians in Action

The $100,000 contribution from “Parks Medical Electronics” is Loren Parks, noted above.

It gets a bit cozier. But think about it: two former GOP state chairs, the current GOP state vice chair, and a terrific amount of cash flowing to two of the three principals in the new Hydra of Mannix, Walker and Day. (Cut off one head and it changes its name and sprouts three new ones.)

L to R: Ross Day, Russ Walker, Kevin Mannix — Oregonian photo

Day now seems to work full time for the “new” foundations/blogs/limited liability companies.

The April 15, 2009 Salem Oregon “Tea Party” (courtesy ORGOP)

But, just to make it very clear, here is where I found that Richard Russell Walker is Richard Walker, R. Russell Walker, and Richard R. Walker (I’m not redacting the addresses because they are legitimate matters of public record; there is no invasion of privacy) from the Marion County, Oregon official election results page for the 2010 Oregon State Primary Election (page 54):

GOP Precinct Committeemen and neighbors. Very cozy.

Just to make it crystal clear.

Position : Precinct Committee Person – Male Republican – 6 POSITIONS

18574439 Day, Ross Alan
7831 ST CHARLES ST NE
KEIZER OR 97303
A/M Elected (Write-In)

18527868 Walker, Richard Russell
7444 SHADOWWOOD CT NE
KEIZER OR 97303
A/M Elected

Well, at least we’ve finally figured out who R[ichard] R[ussell] Walker is.

Oh, and on page 42 of the same document (just to keep it cozy):

Tomorrow, VOTE OREGON LLC plays hide and seek.* And remember, non-Oregon readers, it’s the secrecy, the tactics and the money-laundering we’re looking at in a small state, almost a laboratory environment. It’s easier to see in the bigger states when you look at a small state first. Because only the scale changes; not the tactics.

[* If you want to get a head start, take a look at November 3, 2009's "FreedomWorks and their Oregon Franchisees."]

Don’t worry about the Oregon GOP, though.

Walker resigns Ore. Republican Party post – Examiner.com
Russ Walker has resigned as vice chairman of the Oregon Republican Party to take a job with FreedomWorks PAC, a conservative group. 

Quelle surprise!

Of course, since he’s been on their payroll and a PAC treasurer since what, 2000? this seems bizarre in the extreme, but if the ORGOP says he has left to work for FreedomWorks, who are we to question their ethics?

Russ Walker (box) as Oregon GOP Vice Chair at the April 15, 2009
Tea Party in Salem (Oregon’s capitol)
from the Oregon GOP’s flickr feed

Guess the Oregon GOP webmaster better update their webpage.

And here’s a little closing quote, from the 2009 Common Cause report on Russ Walker:

The top donor to Russ Walker ballot measures is Loren Parks, a Nevada based businessman, with a long history of support for conservative causes in Oregon. Since 2005 either directly or through Parks Medical Electronics, Loren Parks has given $1,784,334 to ballot measures supported by FreedomWorks, all of which failed with Oregon voters. (See chart 43 on page 60.)

Total contributions from Parks to date totals $1,859,334 with another $75,000 supporting signature gathering on Measures 66 and 67 that will be voted on in January of 2010.* Two foundations controlled by Loren Parks also made contributions totaling $509,980 over four years to FreedomWorks Foundation that, in turn, made $624,678 in payments for different services to Kevin Mannix’s law firm in the same time frame. Mannix is a “tough on crime” advocate who has partnered with Russ Walker on a number of ballot measures. (See chart 4 on page 17.)

Most recently FreedomWorks has been in the news for opposition to health care reform including organizing a September 12, 2009 march on Washington….

[*Note: Measures 66 and 67, to RAISE taxes in Oregon, both passed. FreedomWorks "lost" but that fledgling "Voice of the Electorate" (VOTE OREGON LLC) received six figures to play with.]

Courage.

=============

UPDATE:

7 Comments

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7 responses to “FreedomWorks’ New Oregon Machine part i

  1. 2010 Federal Tax

    Ok I agree with you but I want to know latest tax filing structure and federal tax filing rate structure. I think internet is the best way for know about state tax rate structure for 2010 taxes.

  2. Pingback: Oregon Freedomworks part ii – Turning the Double Play « his vorpal sword

  3. Charlie

    The bottom line is that conservative policy, conservative ideology, conservative behavior and criminality is destroying America. We no longer have Democracy in America. We only have non-stop corruption.

    • Well put, Charlie. We’ve moved from a sluggish democracy to an active kleptocracy, with the new “Golden Rule” of “he who has the gold makes the rules.”

  4. willymack

    Two turds currently either already disgracing themselves in office, or preparing to are Congressman Greg Walden (R, of course) and the dud Dudley, running against retread Kitshauber (sic) for governor, are worthy of mention.

    Walden was one of dumbya’s most reliable ass-kissers, voting for his policies nearly 100% of the time, and even now voting against the legislation most likely to benefit ordinary Oregonians.

    The dud has a shady past, and is the very anthesis of the term “Equality under the Law”.

  5. Don

    I am opposed to both legal and illegal immigration. This country is overpopulated, and 21 million Americans are out of work.

  6. Pingback: Hiding Hydra In The Mud – Part iii. « his vorpal sword