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The wacky world of the Freedom Foundation

How the anti-union group’s staffers become leaders of Rep. Shea and Friends’ nutty post-apocalyptic ‘prepper’ movement



(Oct. 10, 2019) –The Olympia-based Freedom Foundation spends millions of dollars every year on lawsuits against unions and governments, and on propaganda urging working people to quit their unions. The group’s CEO Tom McCabe openly brags that his No. 1 goal is to defund and bankrupt unions for political reasons — though he has had little success in Washington state where union membership continues to grow.

McCabe’s group likes to host swanky fundraisers featuring national provocateurs like Dinesh D’Souza and Laura Ingraham. Why? It takes a lot of money to pay all those Freedom-loving attorneys and staffers to do what they do. And while the Republican billionaires who fund his organization might love race-baiting Fox News personalities, they probably aren’t super keen on openly racist fringe crazies like rocker Ted Nugent. That may explain why McCabe had his 2014 open letter inviting Nugent to come speak at a Freedom Foundation event removed from his group’s website.

Now it appears that, instead of inviting right-wing fringe elements to help raise money for the Freedom Foundation, McCabe may be hiring them as staffers.

Two recent news reports describe how key Freedom Foundation staffers — using pseudonyms to hide their identities — became leaders of the right-wing “prepper” movement. These are the folks who, driven by fear and their hatred of former President Obama, are preparing for a society-upending natural or manmade disaster and a new world order based on their extreme right-wing values.

In a Sept. 26 report in The Inlander, reporter Daniel Walters takes a fascinating look at the type of society that infamous state Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) and his allies dream of building. It’s one where “abortions, unions, civil forfeiture, monopolies, centralized welfare, property taxes and ‘teachers under 30’ would be banned. The Constitution would be changed to glorify Jesus Christ, and Christianity would get ‘elevated protection.’ Immigration would be tied to the existing ethnic percentage.”

Their outline for this new society is based on a book series called 299 Days written by Glen Tate. The Inlander identifies “Tate” as Greg Overstreet, who managed the Freedom Foundation’s gaggle of attorneys in 2016-17. (Overstreet had previously been a lawyer for the Building Industry Association of Washington, which McCabe ran until he was ousted in 2010.) Overstreet’s 2017 divorce papers listing the 299 Days business and intellectual property among his assets were apparently what outed him as the author.

Rep. Shea says Tate/Overstreet’s 299 Days saga is crucial reading for “patriots.” Shea even appeared on the video for Tate’s failed 2017 Kickstarter campaign to raise money for 299 Days: The Movie. According to The Inlander, the series tells the story of “Grant Matson, a Washington state lawyer-turned-prepper based on the author, across 10 books and 3,600 pages. It starts with fights with his then-wife about stocking up on food and ammo, and then leads to the partial financial collapse of the United States, gunfights to liberate Olympia, and finally to the ‘restoration’ of ‘New Washington,’ a new, more libertarian society.”

Screenshot of “Glen Tate,” author of 299 Days, wearing a fake beard to obscure his identity.

At the books’ beginning, Glen Tate notes that he “keeps his real identity a secret so he won’t lose his job because, in his line of work, being a prepper and questioning the motives of the government is not appreciated.” That’s also why he wears a fake beard and glasses in a YouTube interview (pictured above). The Inlander adds:

Tate did not respond to requests for interviews. But in his recorded speeches and podcasts, Tate’s argued a governmental collapse is both an inevitability and an opportunity. He presents his book series as a roadmap for rebuilding the kind of world he wants to live in.

“America as it presently exists is completely unsustainable and will not be sustained and will go down kicking and screaming as described in the books,” Tate tells his supporters on a 2015 YouTube video. “You’re going to be these leaders who are called upon to form the next government, and the next government is going to be better.”

To be fair, Shea and Co. have taken Tate/Overstreet’s fantasy and made it even more extreme. But as The Inlander points out, there are some eyebrow-raising laws in the New Washington of 299 Days. No one can be convicted of rape unless there are two witnesses. And no more restraining orders. Or gun registration. And certainly, no unions.

Apparently, the series has been so successful among the prepper crowd that it spawned a spinoff series written by Tate’s wife, who goes by the pen name Shelby Gallagher. According to The Inlander, that would be Anne Marie Gurney, who served as the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon state director at the same time Overstreet was on staff. According to the Jefferson County auditor’s office, Overstreet and Gurney were married last year.

Here’s how an Oct. 2 report in Willamette Week describes A Great State, the 299 Days spinoff by Shelby Gallagher: “Portland is a crumbling hellscape. People defecate in the stairwells of City Hall. The islands of the Columbia River are crowded with homeless camps. The Portland City Council passes Sharia law.” Willamette Week called Gurney’s cellphone to ask her about the books and received an email back from Shelby Gallagher, saying Gallagher had written the books and asking WW not to call again.

After leaving the Freedom Foundation, Overstreet was hired as General Counsel for Sequim-based Security Services Northwest (SSNW), which describes itself as a “nationally-recognized supplement for Department of Defense anti-terrorism force protection.” There he’s helping his new boss, Joe D’Amico (who inspired a character in 299 Days), fight various legal and regulatory battles stemming from D’Amico’s plans to build a somewhat secretive 40-acre military and law enforcement training facility. The Inlander reports that neighbors opposing the project worry D’Amico’s new facility may become “a paramilitary training center for anti-government groups.”

Who knows? Maybe they’ll help Rep. Shea and Co. train children to fight in the coming Holy War.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Foundation soldiers on with its own war — against unions. Its latest salvo: suing the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to force the agency to let the Freedom Foundation’s paid canvassers inside the building to try to convince agency employees to quit their unions. Apparently, dressing up as Santa and handing out anti-union propaganda outside the building isn’t working well enough.

At press time, The Entire Staff of The Stand was not able to determine whether this December 2017 photo of a Freedom Santa was actually Greg Overstreet in another disguise.

David Groves is Editor of The Stand.

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