Not Just Parents: Who’s Really Behind the Moms for Liberty Conference

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 29: People protest outside the Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors national summit welcome reception at the Museum of the American Revolution on June 29, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The self-labeled "parental rights" summit is bringing school board hopefuls from across the country where attendees will receive training and hear from Republican presidential candidates which includes former U.S. President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. The summit, which is being held in an overwhelmingly Democratic Philadelphia, has drawn protestors since the event was announced due to their pushing of book bans accusing schools of ideological overreach, including teaching about race, gender, and sexuality. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

By Sean Kitchen

June 29, 2023


The Moms for Liberty Conference is in Philadelphia this weekend and here’s a look at some of the right-wing organizations sponsoring the event. They range from anti-union groups to 2020 election deniers to groups pushing book bans and attacks against the LGBTQ communities.

The Moms for Liberty conference is about to get underway in Philadelphia. The event starts on Friday and will run through the weekend. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the conference is expected to have around 650 attendees.

Speakers this weekend include presidential hopefuls such as former President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. The organization was recently described as an anti-government extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.   

The group describes itself as a grassroots organization of concerned parents, but sponsors of their second annual conference paint a different picture. 

The conference is sponsored by a network of far-right, dark money organizations that focus on pushing abortion bans, breaking unions, attacking LGBTQ rights and restricting voting rights.  

Here’s a look at who is sponsoring this weekend’s conference.

Pennsylvania Family Institute

The Pennsylvania Family Institute is the state chapter of the Family Research Council, which has been labeled as an anti-LGBTQ extremist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

In Harrisburg, the PA Family Institute advocates for restrictions on reproductive freedoms and attacks against the LGBTQ community. Emily Kreps, a legal assistant with the PA Family Institute, recently hosted a Moms for Liberty advocacy day in the state capitol.    

Locally, the PA Family Institute and their legal arm, the Independence Law Center, are responsible for pushing book bans and banning pride flags in the Central Bucks School District. As reported by WHYY, the school district spent over $250k in legal fees due to the school board’s actions.  

Freedom Foundation

The Freedom Foundation, founded in 1991, is a right-wing pressure group that came to prominence following the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision in 2018. In a ploy to defund the nation’s largest unions, the decision granted public sector workers the right to leave their unions and not pay agency fees while benefiting from contracts unions negotiated. 

Since 2018, the organization has ramped up their efforts to convince union members to opt-out. They are known for sending mailers and canvassing the homes and workplaces of public sector workers to get them to opt-out of their union.

According to The New Republic, the Freedom Foundation’s revenues increased by 38% between 2018 and 2020 and launched opt-out campaigns in Washington, Oregon, California. They are also active in Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

Election Integrity Network

Another sponsor of this weekend’s conference includes the Election Integrity Network, which was founded by Trump’s former election lawyer, Cleta Mitchell, in 2021 and is part of the Conservative Partnership Institute.  

Mitchell played a part in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and is now running an organization focused on suppressing votes in the key swing states in the upcoming 2024 election. 

Documented reported that the Election Integrity Network is building coalitions of election conspiracy theorists in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Michigan. 

In Pennsylvania, they are working with fringe-organizations such as Audit the Vote, who was responsible for spreading claims of election fraud following the 2020 election and before the 2022 gubernatorial election.  

Vermilion Education

Vermilion Education describes itself “as an independent, non-partisan, non-religious small business committed to helping public schools” but neglects to mention their owner’s connections to Hillsdale College, a small conservative christian college based in Michigan.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vermillion was established in December 2022 and their founder Jordan Adams was hired by Florida to review math textbooks, which were rejected for containing “prohibited topics.” 

Pennridge School District in Bucks County hired Vermillion and recently voted 5-4 to adopt Hillsdale’s Curriculum.

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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