top of page

Faith and Freedom Building Up in Wisconsin


Click here to listen to the recording of the 13 minutes of my October 26, 2023 speech to the Marquette College Republicans.

Faith and Freedom Building Up in Wisconsin

I said earlier a 501c3 cannot do a piece that says you need to vote for Ron Johnson - to give an example from last year. That's not something a c3 can do. A c3, can do voter registration.


The single reason that liberals are simply killing conservatives at turnout is that they use c3s for (voter registration and voter education). Remember the money's easier to give particularly if you have some billionaire writing a giant check like Soros who a few years ago made a single 18 billion dollar single payment. You want a tax deduction if you're in that range.


So they use c3s for all their turnout because those are things c3s can do. Even though the can't say go vote for the Democrat, they go to churches that tend to be more liberal - an inner city church or many Methodist churches for example. Those tend to vote more liberal whereas some others like evangelical churches tend to vote more conservative.


Liberals do all of their voter registration turnout through 501c3s because it's so much easier to raise money there. The thing that kills conservatives is we try to do all the stuff we could do through c3s through a Republican Party, which is just inefficient. I am glad the party is doing it but your getting money that can cause donors to be targeted and they don’t get a tax deduction. It’s much more efficient through a 501c3 (to save the things only the party can do for the party like ask people to vote for a specific candidate)..


You're getting contributions to do all of this, and the people who are going to be attacked for giving money given through a party or candidate,and they get no tax deduction. So as a result liberals have used all these non-profits to turn out votes to get them to the polls and when we’ve looked at it - it's a good operation.


We thought they were doing some fraudulent voting in Georgia because we had what we call “ghost voters,” which are people just haven't voted a long time. We thought, “That's funny, why did  they vote for the first time in 10 years? This looks strange. A group I’ve worked with went down and knocked on doors and it wasn't combative at all - the canvassers asked the new voter:


“Hey, we saw you voted for the first time in years. How was your experience? And we learned that in fact Stacey Abrams operation had in fact recruited people and turned him out … gotten them to the polls. In fact, there was nothing to complain about. Liberals just did a better job because they used all these 501c3s to find people in turn them out.


On the flip side, as I note on the slide, the group that voted the lowest percentage in 2020 was Evangelical Christians, which are just about the most conservative group in the country. They vote about 85% to 15% for Republicans in general. So the top conservative group had the lowest turnout.


That summarizes the difference between conservatives not using 501c3s.

Conservatives Used to Have the Turnout Edge with Faith-Based Voters Delivering 2000

I will flash back for just a minute to say … wait, no one here was born in November 2000 were they? No one looks that old. Not to point out again that I am an old person. (the group confirmed no one was born by then).


Okay, so, one of my big accomplishments happened before any of you were born 


We were actually ahead of liberals in 2000 when a guy named Ralph Reed, who had run a group called the Christian Coalition.


I'd been running state races and he hired me to run the national turnout of faith-based voters. This means someone who believes social issues are more important to them. (The other type of conservative is) a libertarian voter who says “Don't talk to me about any of the social stuff,  just talk about taxes and regulation. The social conservative voter would include some Catholics who might believe some conservative views sound like they are just supporting big business, but they are really concerned about social issues. So people vote for the same candidate for completely different reasons.


We wanted to go to people who feel their faith or something they believe as part of their religious belief or moral belief is the reason they vote. So we went out to turn out faith-based voters because there was a history of faith-based voters not voting. It used to be that many Fundamentalist Christians in the South thought politics were so dirty that they didn’t want to be involved in politics and all. They're probably right that politics are kind of dirty, but they weren't voting because of that. they were like. “Stay out of politics and stay away from it.”


So we really went out to change that. We collected church directories. Now if any of you involved in a campaign is trying to collect names of faith-based voters now, like people who go to conservative churches, you geofence to collect the names. 


You put a cone over everybody at an event. If I want every Marquette basketball fan, you pick a game, you put a cone over it. That's why if you are at a game you suddenly get ads on your cell phone. Once they capture your phone, they can keep advertising on your phone for a month.


They know you went to a Marquette basketball game and therefore you might get ads that say something about Marquette basketball. They're trying to sell you something, like Marquette headphones.


That’s now, but back then we physically had to go to churches and get a directory and you can't ask the pastor because you don’t want to get them in trouble by making it look like they're doing anything political. But we would collect these church directories and we found some interesting things. For example, Catholics who had been to church in the last week (and this actually still true), they were voting 76 percent for the Republican - Bush/Cheney was the ticket then.


People who say they were Catholic, but had not been to church in the past week or last month  were voting 25 percent for Bush - the rest were all for Al Gore . We wanted to remind the Catholics who are going to church to vote, and that's something you can do as a c3.


We're not telling them they have to vote for Bush. We're just saying go vote, we know three quarters of them will vote for Bush, just like liberals go to a more liberal church, perhaps in the  inner city, and they are just saying to them to go vote. They're not following them in and say, hey, and be sure to hit this box for the Democrat. They are getting them to vote knowing 90 percent of people are voting Democrat in this particular church so they are turning them out. So we did that. We collected church directories. 


We collected 14 million names in church directories. And to tell you how things have changed the end date myself, we had a room about twice as big as this, full of  very introverted people who hated being on the phone, who just sat there and typed these names in from church directors, because nothing was electronic then. So we actually typed in 14 million names of people out of church directories into a database and started mailing them and phoning them and had this incredibly high evangelical turnout in 2000, the opposite of 2020.


We won the election and it was particularly important in that race. Because a lot of years you can say, well, look, Bidens messed up the economy. The economy is terrible. Vote-based in the economy, vote based on your grocery bill. I mean there are lots of issues you can use this year. It was really tough that year because the economy was great and the Democrats had been in control of the White House. I believe the economy was great because the internet was invented two years before that and  everybody had gone from running to the post office every day with, , 300 letters to typing emails. So I believe Clinton-Gore was lucky. But nonetheless, they had a great economy.


We couldn't say, oh Clinton-Gore had a terrible economy. It was a great economy. So we had to turn out faith-based voters. We collected 14 million names that campaign, we mailed them, we phoned them and we got them out and yeah that was the race that we won by 500 some votes in Florida, it was just that tight.


We actually lost Wisconsin by a few thousand. I got in trouble with the team because they're like, “Didn't you go to Marquette?” They asked because right here at Marquette that election day they'd left a voting box unattended on campus -  this is for a presidential election. I'm not talking about the student president, but the President of the United States. They left it on attended all day so people could just walk by and put ballets in.


So of all the places in the world for this to happen, it happened on this campus and they all knew I was a Marquette grad, so I got a little trouble, But we turned out faith-based then, and the only good news now is I think people realized after that election in 2022 just how low turnout had gone and they realized, “Hey, we’ve got to get people out!”


This is legitimate c3 work. We're just getting them to vote. We're not going into church and saying, hey, you got to vote Republican this year. We're just saying please all vote and focusing more on targeting areas where it looks like people are a little more socially conservative. There are very important issues right now the argument over gender in sports … that's a big one. (Protecting women’s sports) is breaking conservative 3-to-1 right now. There are issues like that on which a lot of people tend to be conservative, even on the social side.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT - Faith and Freedom 501c3 Wisconsin Side-by-Side


On the screen I have an example of a side-by-side c3 handout. That's a legitimate c3 handout.


This is the kind of stuff left does all the time that we're going to start doing it again on the right. Now i put this up because I'm really happy and it's kind of an announcement today that we're going to ramp up a big Wisconsin state chapter of this Faith and Freedom group which is led by the same founder Ralph Reid who hired me to do the faith based effort in 2000 and we’re going to start this year.


Faith and Freedom got a few of these door hangers out last year, they just didn't have a big operation in Wisconsin like they did in other states, but this will be a big operation this year. I  use the example because I wish we'd already had this up and running two years ago because this group nationally has done 10 million doorknocks, to give you a feel for how effective they are.


You might ask how a c3 can get effective door hangers out since they are not allowed to say who to vote for? Well, the key test of a 501c3 flier is that you should look at a piece like this and ask, “Could a liberal hand this to liberals?” The answer is yes, because you can lay out issues side by side. You do a nice picture of both sides - this isn't some political hit piece where  Mandela Barnes was in a compromising photo turning his face and contorted looking funny.


You have a nice profile photo of each candidate, and you do footnotes on every issue. You give the positions on protecting girls' sports. Okay, 25 percent right now think that biological males should be able to play women's sports. That's just the stats right now. It's about the same percent who favor abortion on demand all the way to the end of the pregnancy. But a liberal could take these fliers to liberals who would agree with those issues and thus decide they want to vote for Mandela Barnes. So that's kind of how we know this is 501c3 compliant.


Now, if there were a bottom line added that said, “and by the way, Ron Johnson is a great American and Mandela Barnes is a scumbag,” No. You can't do that as a c3. It's got to be a fair issue comparison.

The Difference in 2022 and the Future?

I just wonder if the limited number of these door hangers that were delivered was the difference in Ron Johnson winning by 20 some thousand votes in the election last year. I also wonder if Faith in Freedom was already fully in the state and they’d been able to deliver hundreds of thousands of these like one of their normal full efforts -  maybe that would have made the difference in the election of Tim Michels and others. This is just an example of how we build turnout and educate voters.


Now, just close everything and do a lot of great things within a political organization. Marquette College Republicans are any other you want to help or a specific campaign. But Marquette College Republicans don't want to run a church turnout effort . That would be a complete diversion and waste of time and couldn't do as efficiently, but this is kind of the landscape we have. And so as you look for,”Hey, I may want to get involved next year.”


You may decide at some point if you want to get involved in a campaign or to help a group that's doing big door knocking. The nice thing now is everyone does get paid. Now, if you're willing to put in some time, some people volunteer 10 hours or and people in an organization (like Faith and Freedom) say, “Wow, that person is really good at this but I know they're trying to juggle a waitering job along with classes along with something else. Then they ask, 


“Hey can you drop the waiting job? I don’t want you to drop out of school, but drop the waitering job. Can we pay you to knock on doors instead of waiting? It's getting very competitive out there. I mean one nice thing about the inflation and  people making 15 bucks at burger king is might get 20 to knock on doors.


Here we give incentives when it's really cold. I actually had incentives in Green Bay that every day it didn't hit 25 degrees. We paid people extra. They got gift cards and things. So, you have to have to reward people when it's a hard day to hit doors.


I hope this gave you some ideas on the kind of groups you might get involved in. I hope everyone stays politically involved. I know some at these meetings are actual political science majors who want to do this. Some it's more something you may want to help out with a little on the side or maybe others just like posting things or something. But I hope this gives a little landscape.


Note: The following are the slides from the first 15 minutes of the speech, that are not included above or in the recording. We also cut off the transcript above and recording of the Q&A and applause at the end.

bottom of page