FreedomWorks is a well-known name in conservative politics in Washington, DC—which makes its recent hire baffling.
News broke on Tuesday that FreedomWorks is hiring animal rights activist Marty Irby to be its Chief Operating Officer. It’s a bizarre hire because Irby’s politics don’t remotely seem to fit the FreedomWorks mission. Marty Irby has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars working to elect liberals to federal office, and has worked to undermine many of the principles that FreedomWorks stands for.
Irby’s background is a lobbyist for the legislative arm of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), an animal liberation group that attacks farmers, ranchers, and hunters. Following HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle resigning in 2018 over sexual harassment allegations, Irby followed Pacelle to help run two new animal rights groups founded by Pacelle: Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. (Apparently, the serious allegations reported in the New York Times weren’t too off-putting to Irby.)
Irby is executive director of Animal Wellness Action, and AWA’s political spending reveals the organization has spent huge amounts to defeat conservatives and elect liberals, according to OpenSecrets tracking of AWA’s independent expenditures:
- AWA spent $312,000 in 2018 against Republicans, including attacks on Rep. Pete Sessions. It spent $0 in support of Republicans.
- AWA spent $294,000 in 2022 toward electing Democrats. That was 81% of its independent expenditures that cycle.
AWA had a more even split in 2020–but only spent on two Congressional races.
And around the time Irby was at HSUS’s lobbying arm, here’s how HSUS and its affiliates were politicking:
- HSUS spent millions pushing ballot measures in Massachusetts and California attacking farmers;
- HSUS lobbied for a statewide ban on fur clothing in California;
- Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsed Hillary Clinton for president;
- HSLF spent over $900,000 in independent expenditures in 2016 helping Democrats, 75% of IEs that year, and over $800,000 in 2018 helping Democrats, 84% of IEs that cycle;
- HSLF PAC gave $302,500 to Democrats in 2016 (68% of federal candidate contributions), and gave $234,500 in 2018 (65% of contribs.).
FreedomWorks stands for “lower taxes, less government, personal liberty and the rule of law,” and has a long track record of conservative activism. This stands in stark contrast to the animal rights agenda that includes:
- Onerous regulations on farmers;
- Banning the sale of clothing made with natural fibers like fur;
- Banning pet stores from selling pets;
- Outlawing lead ammunition in hunting;
- Using frivolous lawsuits to tie up businesses.
We can only assume Irby left most of these details off his resume when applying for the job at FreedomWorks.