The Great Recession of 2007-09 affected fundraising for far-right groups in in Texas in different ways, an analysis of tax records shows. Like most nonprofits across the country, nearly all of the far-right groups the Texas Freedom Network monitors in this state saw declines in fundraising that ranged from temporary blips to severe shortfalls between 2007 and 2011. A few have bounced back, however, and are raising more money now than they did prior to the economic downturn.
You can check out data on finances, leadership and other information about far-right groups across the state in a new resource on TFN’s website. That new section of our website looks at groups that are part of the religious right or that otherwise support private school vouchers, textbook censorship or work on other issues TFN addresses. We will add groups and revise information as needed.
The most recent tax records available show that the textbook censorship group Educational Research Analysts founded by the late Mel and Norma Gabler of Longview in East Texas, the anti-abortion group The Justice Foundation in San Antonio and Rick Scarbor0ugh’s Vision America organizations in Lufkin were among the groups taking the biggest financial hits. Educational Research Analysis raised less than $80,000 in 2011, far less than half the nearly $200,000 it raised in 2008. The Justice Foundation raised more than $1.2 million in 2008 but saw big declines over the next three years, raising less than $400,000 in 2011. Scarborough saw donations to Vision America Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit in the tax code, drop from nearly $300,000 in 2008 to $20,000 in 2011. Vision America Mobilized, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (donations are tax-deductible), declined from nearly $700,000 in 2008 to about $420,000 in 2011.
On the other hand, some groups on the right weathered the financial storm pretty well. The pro-voucher Texas Public Policy Foundation, founded by wealthy San Antonio businessman James Leininger, more than doubled its fundraising over a five-year period, going from $2.5 million in 2007 to more than $5.7 million in 2011. The group moved into new offices in Austin during that time.
David Barton’s WallBuilders organization in Aledo also saw a big jump in revenue, going from $1,164,000 in 2007 to about $4.4 million in 2011. Barton has become a fixture in right-wing media, especially on Glenn Beck’s programs. But he has also suffered some embarrassments, including last year’s decision by Thomas Nelson Publishing to cease publication of his The Jefferson Lies, a book about the nation’s third president that critics noted was filled with distortions and other bad history.
You can get lots more information in our catalog of far-right groups in Texas here. We’ll update it as information becomes available.