In Remembrance: The Idaho Freedom Foundation (2009-2024)
With a complex blend of emotions, we announce the passing of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. The organization has succumbed to a painful, undiagnosed case of Chronic Hypocrisy.
The IFF we all knew over the last ten years is dead. From its ashes rises something much worse: a flailing network of extremist groups that actively defend white supremacists and push authoritarian agendas that pose a danger to the liberty of all Idaho citizens. In this obituary of Wayne Hoffman’s Idaho Freedom Foundation, we’ll reflect on what his organization has accomplished and what to expect under IFF’s new President, Ron Nate.
The Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) was founded in part by Wayne Hoffman in 2009. Hoffman helped start the IFF after shifting from his career as a serious journalist, working for established media organizations like the Idaho Statesman and the Idaho Press-Tribune. He worked for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education before landing in the communications office of the one-term conservative Congressman Bill Sali. Hoffman’s impressive resume made him a great fit to launch an organization founded on libertarian principles.
As the IFF matured with age, their tactics did not. With a rapidly revolving door of hires, specifically in the communications role, the IFF struggled to maintain a healthy relationship with normal Idahoans. Once seen as honest defenders of taxpayers’ hard-earned money, working to protect against wasteful spending at the county level and combating cronyism, the organization rapidly deteriorated over the past few years.
As their board leadership shifted, so did their purpose, stumbling their way from a fiscal watchdog to posting lengthy rants about culture wars and arguing about it on X (Twitter).
Hoffman, a once-respected journalist and political advisor, moved to Washington State, where his political relevance and respect faded as he continued to direct IFF’s work. The shift from cutting pork in budgets to pushing for hundreds of millions in education welfare to private school parents helped erode the once healthy organization.
Their prized “freedom index” lost relevance, and legislators no longer feared the once mighty political juggernaut.
Mourning the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Timely Demise
Wayne Hoffman successfully led the Idaho Freedom Foundation and inspired its network of organizations for over a decade. They will always be remembered for encouraging support for fine people like John Green, Aaron von Ehlinger, Priscilla Giddings, Branden Durst, and Janice McGeachin. Their legendary political careers are a testimony to Hoffman’s genius.
As we mourn Hoffman’s exit from Idaho politics, let us ponder on some of what he and his board have accomplished:
- Doctors have left the state, leaving a critical shortage of medical providers.
- Legislators are so terrified of mean tweets they pass harmful legislation
- Friends and Family of IFF network’s top people are given paid positions working for the AG’s office, WBCSD school district, and representing NIC in legal matters.
- The increase of Christian White Nationalism
- Rise of Ammon Bundy in Idaho
- The exodus of good teachers across Idaho
- The amplification of bad behavior towards those who are non-compliant with IFF’s directives
Chronic Hypocrisy felled the late Idaho Freedom Foundation and its blindness to its slow shift from promoting liberty to eliminating freedom for bodily autonomy, parental rights, free speech, and the erosion of fiscal responsibility through wasteful spending on culture wars.
Hoffman’s Lasting Legacy
After testing the waters by challenging Common Core, they dove deep into the culture wars movement that led the fight against CRT, social justice, and LGBTQ+ people. In their effort to promote liberty and fiscal responsibility, they encouraged their favored Attorney General to waste millions of dollars picking culture war fights. At the same time, their policy analyst’s wife serves as his office’s spokesperson.
To Hoffman’s credit, he artfully spun their push for bloated spending and cronyism as necessary to promote liberty, even if their policies removed freedom, bodily autonomy, and parental rights.
During the height of the COVID pandemic, Hoffman called for an emergency legislative session where liberty-minded legislators could call themselves back under the idea that Idaho had experienced a biological attack. When the Governor was incapacitated, they could end the lockdowns, mask mandates, and anything else with these emergency powers. A dozen or so of IFF’s most loyal legislators showed up on the floor, and lacking a quorum to have any real authority, they floundered, showing signs of atrophy and diminished ability to be effective.
Hoffman stood up at Ammon Bundy’s warehouse Easter service and encouraged Idahoans to defy the Governor. The Idaho Freedom PAC, which worked out of the same office and shared staff with his organization, openly endorsed Bundy, who has now fled the state and is in hiding after losing everything in a lawsuit for his antics that often aligned with IFF’s narratives.
The final nail in the proverbial coffin was the IFF’s hiring and full-throated defense of self-proclaimed Christian nationalist and white supremacist David Reilly. Records and media reporting demonstrates that IFF was aware of Reilly’s hateful views and affiliations and may likely be soliciting his experience spreading homophobia and Christian nationalism to attract new donors and voters to Idaho.
Reilly came to prominence as a reporter and radio commentator who promoted and attended the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. More than 500 white supremacists Neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen, and others marched through the University of Virginia campus hoisting tiki torches, chanting the ethno-nationalist slogan “Blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.”
Reilly breathlessly promoted the event on his father’s Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, radio station, interviewing event organizers to promote its hateful message and encourage others to attend.
Station advertisers, including Bloomsburg University and Berwick Area Schools, pulled more than $500,000 in planned advertising from the station, WHLM. Reilly then tendered his resignation “out of charity.”
In his resignation, Reilly claimed, “I denounce Nazism, the KKK, Racism, White Supremacism, and political violence,” but had been photographed multiple times wearing a green and white triangle pin with the logo of the white supremacist group called Identity Evropa.
Reilly and other like-minded supremacists moved to Idaho and quickly embedded themselves into the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, offering media services and strategy to IFF chairman Brent Regan. Reilly brought with him an army of “Groypers” (white nationalist online trolls who follow Nick Fuentes’ America First Movement) that could boost social media numbers and give the false appearance of more local support to IFF’s social media.
Reilly has a long history of publishing hateful content, trolling, and spreading propaganda. After losing his job working for his father, Reilly went to work for his anti-Semitic mentor, E. Michael Jones, as an editor for his Culturwars.com website. Jones describes Jews as “outlaws and subversives [who use] religion as a cover for social revolution” and associates this “Jewish modernity” with the perceived “evils” of abortion, same-sex marriage, and pornography, which he has referred to as “Jewish sacraments.”
RedIce TV is run by Henrik Palmgren and Lana Lokteff of Sweden. Henrik moved the operation from Europe to North Idaho, where they promoted white supremacy, holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, and homophobia — which led to their bans on YouTube and Facebook for hate speech. At its peak, RedIce TV had over 300k subscribers on YouTube, making it an attractive new support base for Hoffman as they looked to stop the bleeding caused by exposure from regular Idaho Republicans who were sick and tired of their dishonesty. RedICE TV also received crypto currency donations from the same donor network caught sending funds to Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Network, VDare (a white supremacy group), and the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
Reilly has been a guest on Palmgren and Lokteff’s RedICE.TV show multiple times. Here is a clip from a 2019 episode where he asked a question at Charlie Kirk’s TPUSA event with Rob Smith.
Reilly is close to Nick Fuentes and tells his North Idaho associate Palmgren: “Nick Fuentes is on the chopping block right now; he’s a friend of mine, he’s a good guy, he’s a catholic, and he understands what’s going on in the culture war and we need voices like his…”
America First Movement leader Nick Fuentes has made numerous hateful videos aimed at Jews, Women, and LGBTQ people.
Reilly used his online troll following to publicize a 2022 Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The gathering was subsequently targeted by the nationalist hate group Patriot Front, of whom 31 members were arrested on charges of conspiracy to riot.
The event was also recast as a “Drag Queen Show for Idaho Children,” with Satanist undertones, published by Reilly’s Idaho Tribune.
Despite its benign banner, the Idaho Tribune publishes junk news and radical activism. Hatewatch has unearthed intertwined infrastructure beneath the Idaho Tribune website and Reilly’s site. Daniel Walters, a professional journalist, uncovered links, including Reilly’s web-hosting account supporting graphics on both. Former Idaho Freedom Foundation education policy staffer Branden Durst confirmed Reilly runs the site, publishing articles under a false name and photograph and using the same photo the Dorothy Moon-led Idaho GOP used for their social media.
Reilly has used his messaging to infiltrate the Idaho Republican Party at the state level and several key counties. He was a delegate to the state convention in Brent Regan’s district.
Again, those who knew Reilly’s character tried to warn us. Two North Idaho Republicans issued a public appeal, asking the county to reconsider letting Reilly represent Republican values: “We reject [county affiliate]’s effort to mainstream the ideology of hate, violence and hard-right authoritarianism that the white nationalist movement represents.”
Reilly has called fascism “democratic,” “practical,” and “rational.”
Hoffman’s IFF and his new communications guru, Reilly, shared an alignment with Moon’s party goals and legislative agendas. Working hand in hand, the IFF and the new Idaho GOP, led by devout John Birch Society member Dorothy Moon, use Reilly’s Idaho Tribune to admonish Legislators and critics who don’t fall in line with Reilly and Hoffman’s political ideology. Regan’s Kootenai County GOP even raised a motion asking the entire Idaho Republican Party to fully endorse the John Birch Society, which they described as their “brain trust.”
In 2020, Reilly ran for school board in Post Falls, Idaho, with full backing from the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee chaired by IFF chair Brent Regan. The local newspaper published dire warnings, including a letter from some in Reilly’s hometown in Pennsylvania, 2,383 miles away. He lost this race as voters started to wise up to who Reilly really was.
Reilly supported failed Secretary of State candidate and former Representative Dorothy Moon, who ran against incumbent Tom Luna’s campaign for Chairman of the Idaho Republican Party. Dave Reilly was exposed for dropping off flyers advertising Luna’s “free pizza lunch” at a local homeless shelter. Many unhoused families with children showed and were embarrassed by Reilly’s deception. Luna’s team did the right thing and fed the families. Moon denied any knowledge of her supporter’s dirty trick aimed at helping her campaign by creating an embarrassing situation for her opponent. Shortly after that, Moon defeated Luna.
Hoffman’s political experience helped the IFF support county-level Republican politics in North Idaho. Brent Regan chairs the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s board, The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, and the Idaho GOP Rules Committee.
IFF’s deceptively named Freedom Index is designed to direct legislators on how to vote. Critics and the media have called out the IFF for blurring the lines between nonprofit fundraising and lobbying.
The so-called “Freedom Index” has moved beyond spreading ideas of freedom and liberty and now enforces the ideology of Christian Nationalist organizations like the Idaho Family Policy Alliance.
IFF board members who also serve as party bosses demand lawmakers conform to their agenda by using Hoffman’s Freedom Index and Idaho Family Policy Alliance-inspired legislation as the measuring stick to determine a Republican legislator’s worthiness.
IFF board members often fund a circular rotation of obscurely named PACs and organizations, including the Citizens Alliance of Idaho, Idaho Freedom PAC, Idaho Freedom Caucus, Idahoans Fighting Corruption, and others every election cycle. Critics often cry foul about the dark money collected by the IFF and how its board members and close associates are the primary funders of campaigns of those loyal to the IFF network.
Hoffman’s ambition led him to embrace organizations that go against the original purpose of the Idaho Freedom Foundation — one inspired by Ralph Smeed — to form alliances with authoritarian and Christian National groups who actively seek to eliminate freedom and liberty from Idahoans who do not adhere to their strict personal religious views.
As Hoffman’s organization’s embrace of authoritarianism emerged, so did the signs of its demise.
The Turning Point for the Idaho Freedom Foundation
For all that Hoffman has accomplished in his long career in journalism and politics, his legacy will forever be cemented in his hiring of an anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ+, and former member of the neo-Nazi group called Identity Evropa.
His organization, facing growing resistance over its dishonest tactics and bullying, was losing influence and possible funding. Each year, his organization’s legislative agenda devolved into culture war-focused action. They are leaning further into ideas that align with Christian Nationalists who agree with Nick Fuentes and Vincent James Foxx more than National GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel. The National Republican Party has disavowed Fuentes.
To get the votes to take over county and state parties, extremists need to radicalize and import more extremists. Through podcasts, internet forums, and online cults of personality, individuals misled by these toxic beliefs can communicate easily, and they are encouraged to move to Idaho. With the IFF’s network amplification of Reilly’s messaging, they help drive people towards Christian White Nationalism and mine existing networks to build new support as former followers of IFF drop off due to increased education about their new direction.
Alt-right propagandist Vincent James Foxx moved from California to Post Falls in 2021, praising the “real right-wing takeover happening in Idaho” and warning, “If you’re a legislator here, either get in line or get out of the way.”
The term “Groyper” describes followers of influential white supremacist Nick Fuentes and his America First movement. Fuentes promotes an unapologetic brand of Christian Nationalism and antisemitism. He one-upped well-known conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his program by declaring: “We should have a Christian government; it’s a Christian country, God runs the world, we should have a government in accordance with that.”
Hoffman’s new communications guru, Reilly, and his associate, Vincent James Foxx, are part of Fuentes’ Groyper network, and the IFF network endorsed candidate for Governor, Janice McGeachin, made a video appearance at Nick Fuentes’ conference alongside speakers Marjorie Taylor Greene, Wendy Rogers, and Foxx.
Brent Regan, Doyle Beck, and Bryan Smith had spent considerable resources helping put McGeachin into office. IFF contractor Parish Miller even helped run McGeachin’s social media while McGeachin was filming her video message to his Groypers, thanking them for supporting her campaign.
Hoffman was a savvy political operative. He knew that to deploy confrontational political tactics to achieve culture war objectives successfully; you need people willing to help you enforce the fear you spread.
It’s not just Groypers that Hoffman has opened the door for; Hoffman’s speech at Bundy’s warehouse was an invitation for Bundy’s People’s Rights Group to support the IFF, which they showed a willingness to do. When the playground protester’s mom asked to be arrested, Hoffman was there with a bullhorn supporting her. Bundy’s People’s Rights Network followers, which include at least two individuals who served time for their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, followed the cues from IFF’s doxing of a Meridian police officer and formed a mob outside his home.
Before their fade into irrelevance, the Idaho III%ers — who were led by the infamous Bundy Bridge Sniper, worked alongside the IFF network. They would rally their militia-like members in support of IFF-backed candidates and groups with their flags, banners, and guns in a show of force.
Hoffman relished in the chilling effect these groups had and continued to lean into this tactic of aligning with fringe groups, which attracted people many considered potentially dangerous.
The further from the Overton Window Hoffman’s supporters hailed from, the more they thought they were winning. The IFF’s embrace of Groypers is the pinnacle of Hoffman’s career.
The Idaho Freedom Foundation’s legacy of embracing hate and planting the seeds for the return of the Aryan-nations style of governance will be celebrated in the dark corners of Truth Social and Gab. The surviving network will continue to refine its abusive tactics and bully legislators through their numerous fake news and propaganda sites. Gone are the days of pursuing meaningful conservative agendas, replaced by culture war narratives that Dave Reilly has been working on for years.
The IFF is survived by Groypers, and a tiny group of loyal internet trolls squabbling over the ashes of a once-reasonable organization. Under Ron Nate’s new leadership, the remains of the organization will likely accelerate bullying, misinformation, and culture war agendas that align with Reilly’s vision.
In lieu of flowers, mourners should send an email to their local representative encouraging them to sign on to Idaho Leaders United’s pledge against anti-Semitism, racism, and hate.
May the scattered ashes of IFF’s influence be a warning to those who would sacrifice their principles to the self-interest of supremacists.
Disclaimer: The following is intended to convey an opinion on newsworthy events of public concern regarding public figures and/or public officials in the exercise of their official duties. No implications or inferences—beyond those explicitly stated in the preceding—are intended to be conveyed or endorsed by the Author. Wherever available, hyperlinks have been provided to allow readers to directly access any underlying assertions of fact upon which this opinion is based.
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