The Commonwealth Foundation’s Extreme, Right-Wing Agenda

The Commonwealth Foundation and their offshoot organizations are pushing a corporate agenda that is out of step with Pennsylvania working families. The Commonwealth Foundation is funded by out-of-state billionaires who share financial ties with extremist organizations who target LGBT rights, environmentalists, women’s health and who support white supremacy.

Get the facts below:


Anti-Worker:

The Commonwealth Foundation has been the leading force in Pennsylvania advocating for laws that silence the ability of workers to have a voice on the job, slash benefits and cut wages. They have publicly stated that collective bargaining is unfair and have advocated for destroying retirement security for thousands in Pennsylvania.

The Commonwealth Foundation’s former CEO and current Commonwealth Partners CEO Matt Brouillette has made over $200,000 at these organizations while saying $7.25/hour was too much. Matt Brouillette has publically begrudged public sector employees bargaining a raise.  A board member of the Scaife Foundation have called labor’s efforts to raise the minimum wage a “shameless scheme.” The Commonwealth Foundation have advocated for getting rid of the minimum wage. The Commonwealth Foundation pushes anti-unions laws like “Right To Work” and has called for repeal of local paid sick day ordinances.

The Commonwealth Foundation and the Fairness Center have sued teachers and college professors, filed legal injunctions to stop graduate students from organizing, and have publicly denigrated home care workers.

The Commonwealth Foundation has deep ties to ALEC. ALEC is a policy bill mill that creates cookie-cutter legislation backed by corporations and anti-union billionaires designed to undermine progressive organizations. Staffers and Board members including Nathan Benefield, Elizabeth Stelle, and Rick Dreyfuss have all served in leadership positions at ALEC pushing the dismantling of worker rights, environmental protections, and eliminating healthcare.


Ties to White Supremacists:

The Pennsylvania-based Scaife Foundation is one of the largest funders of the Commonwealth Foundation donating over a million dollars since 2009. The Scaife Foundation has played a large role pushing anti-immigrant sentiment and has active ties to hate groups and white supremacists.

The Commonwealth Foundation shares financial ties to white nationalist and racist groups as well as organizations that oppose the Voting Rights Act leaving millions of people of color open to voting disenfranchisement.  

The Commonwealth Foundation shares financial ties with Frank Gaffney “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes”.  The Center for Security Policy received $1 million since 2009 from the Scaife Foundation. Gaffney has played a key role in drafting Trump’s Muslim Ban.

The Commonwealth Foundation shares financial ties with an organization that uses racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the “genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor.”


Against Public Education:

The Commonwealth Foundation’s Former CEO Matt Brouillette advocated for banning teacher’s ability to strike. He has said teachers were selfish saying they only care about “self-preservation.”

The former Commonwealth Foundation CEO has consistently targeted a black union leader and teacher with false attacks. He has also called predominately black school districts “violent” and “failing.”

The Commonwealth Foundation’s legal arm The Fairness Center has consistently sued teachers including in Reading, Allentown, and Philadelphia. They have also bankrolled pro-privatization advocates in failed attempts to stay in power on an important education board in Philadelphia.


Against the Environment:

Former CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation Matt Brouillette used to work for the Mackinac Center of Public Policy, another corporate front group. The Mackinac Center directly played a role in changing executive rules that made Flint more vulnerable to the water crisis that poisoned thousands of residents including children. The City of Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

The Commonwealth Foundation shills for Big Oil in Pennsylvania. They have advocated in favor of fracking, attacked environmental conservation organizations, and denied scientific consensus around climate change.

The Mackinac Center is bankrolled by a multinational chemical corporation called the Dow Foundation. Dow has manufactured agent orange, exposed 1,400 residential properties to a cancer-causing dioxin, and intentionally delayed clean up efforts after it became public.


Anti-LGBTQ:

The Commonwealth Foundation shares financial ties with the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center called “virulently anti-gay.” That same organization’s co-founder has suggested that AIDS is one way God punishes the LGBT community.

The Commonwealth Foundation’s Senior Fellow Rick Dreyfuss denied the existence of the gender wage-gap saying he has not seen it from his own personal experience.


Find more information and resources below:

The Big Money Behind Attacks on Pennsylvania’s Workers


Spotlight on Matt Brouillette


Spotlight on the Fairness Center


More information and citations can be found here.