Who is behind Moms for Liberty?
Moms for Liberty is hosting its national summit next week in Tampa, and it’s quite a feat for a grassroots group started last year by two freedom-loving moms. But since even the “two moms” claim falls apart, it’s worth asking what Moms for Liberty really is.
I pay attention when a new group of “parents” or “mums” burst onto the education/politics scene. I exposed the millions of black money behind Families for Great Schools during a 2016 charter school ballot question campaign in Massachusetts. New bands like Moms for Liberty are equally transparent Astroturf – a band that claims to be popular but is actually artificial turf.
One of the best tools for analyzing fake education groups is a four-part test from Professor Daniel Katz. Let’s see how Moms for Liberty works.
Growth at a rate that only the monetary resources of a society could manage. Moms for Liberty incorporated as a 501(c)(4) tax code organization, a form that lends itself to the political shenanigans of black money. He exploded onto the stage with his executives guesting on Fox News and bursting into the Washington Post. It has a well-developed website and extensive social media reach. Moms for Liberty has formed three federal and one state political action committees, one of which is a SuperPAC capable of accepting unlimited donations. Its careers page is looking for state coordinators to work with the chapter president’s coordinator and a communications officer. Here’s something I’ve noticed while following Moms for Liberty and similar organizations: ‘comms moms’ – many of the leaders of these groups have a background in marketing and communications. “At the top, (Moms for Liberty)…are political strategists, risk managers, and communications professionals — high-profile women with ties to leading Republicans in the state and nation,” reports the Florida Phoenix. Moms for Liberty’s press is handled by Calvary Strategies whose CEO is a former campaign manager and chief of staff to Sen. (then Governor) Rick Scott.
Since its inception, Moms for Liberty has managed a fundraiser with former Fox News celebrity Megyn Kelly ($20,000 top ticket), co-hosted the American Dream Conference with a keynote address from the former Trump Cabinet Secretary Ben Carson, and the upcoming National Summit (featuring sponsorships for $50,000 have sold out), featuring Gov. Ron DeSantis, Carson, Senator Rick Scott, and Trump’s former education secretary , Betsy DeVos.
Who finances the group and for how much? The leaders of Moms for Liberty claim to make do through t-shirt sales. They’ve barely heard of the Koch brothers! Yet they may have heard of the National Policy Council. Two of the Moms for Liberty National Summit sponsors, the Leadership Institute and the Heritage Foundation, are core members of the Council for National Policy, a secretive network of right-wing billionaires and Christian fundamentalist leaders that supports and coordinates right-wing policy.
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Who is really running the operation? Both The “founders” are Tina Descovich, former school council member, communications and marketing professional, and Tiffany Justice, also former school council member. But there was a third founder, Bridget Ziegler. She is still a member of the school committee and her husband, Christian Ziegler, is Vice Chairman of the Florida Republican Party and owner of a political marketing company. He boasts that Moms for Liberty will provide crucial ground support for DeSantis’ re-election.
Then there is the strange coincidence of so many grassroots parent organizations springing up at the same time with similar missions. Parents Defending Education is linked to Koch. The Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council claims credit for the havoc wrought by anti-Critical Race Theory legislation. The Council for National Policy’s Leadership Institute has launched its own program to support school boards. The Council for National Policy-connected Turning Point USA has launched a school board watchlist to flag “woke” school boards.
Do its supposed rank and file members even have a clue what the organization is? According to a Forbes column, upstart operations like Moms for Liberty, “are run by seasoned communications professionals and political operatives, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t activated and harnessed real anger and upheaval. people on the ground”. Nor does it mean that these people understand that what they think is grassroots is actually manipulation by the secret puppeteers from above.
Moms for Liberty could answer these questions by revealing its real financiers. But that would lead to a lot of uncomfortable requests, questions that even communication mothers can’t handle.
Maurice T. Cunningham retired in 2021 as an associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is the author of “Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization”.