Mother Jones has produced another revelation related to the internal disputes at the tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks. The liberal magazine reported that staffers produced a parody video that featured a staffer in a panda suit simulating a sex act on a staffer wearing a Hillary Clinton mask.
Multiple sources have confirmed the Mother Jones report.
FreedomWorks Executive Vice President Adam Brandon produced and appeared in the video. Two female interns were asked to appear in the offending scene, part of a film meant to be shown at the FreePAC conference last July. The parody video was screened for about fifteen staff members before the conference; it was killed after several staffers voiced loud objections, noting that thousands of social conservatives would attend the event. At least two staff members went to the organization’s Human Resources department with complaints. Brandon defended the video, according to a former FreedomWorks staffer.
Brandon said via e-mail that he was “not going to dignify” the Mother Jones article with a response. FreedomWorks spokeswoman Jackie Bodnar called the allegations “unsourced, baseless and intentionally harmful accusations made by disgruntled former employees.” President Matt Kibbe has not yet responded to requests for comment.
“I had heard that there was a video made that was disrespectful of Hillary Clinton and it was a matter that I had intended to investigate further and I understand may be investigated further,” former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey told The Post. “I found all of that activity reprehensible, wholly unacceptable and distressing,” he said.
Armey left the organization last fall after trying and failing to take control away from Kibbe.
According to Mother Jones, two members of the group’s board of trustees are investigating complaints about an unprofessional atmosphere fostered by Kibbe as well as allegations of financial mismanagement.
Armey said he had heard of both the video and complaints about a hostile work environment for women from two employees who have since left, as well as one who remains at FreedomWorks, but that they were all “desperately afraid of reprisals.”
FreedomWorks played a crucial role in ushering a wave of tea party candidates into office in recent years and has seen its budget grow from $7 million to $40 million. But the group has been plagued by reports of internal strife since Armey’s departure.