NPR logo Profile: Freedom's Watch

Profile: Freedom's Watch

Freedom's Watch

Formed in 2007, this Freedom's Watch was seen as the conservative counterpart to and spent $15 million on an ad campaign backing President Bush's troop "surge" strategy in Iraq.

This year it lost some staff, including former president Bradley Blakeman — a former deputy assistant to President Bush — causing worries among some conservatives that it was struggling.

Originally expected to spend millions attacking the Democratic candidate for president, the group has instead shifted focus to congressional elections. And it has done battle with, airing an ad criticizing one of the liberal group's controversial ads.

Freedom's Watch's main financial backer is Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who is CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. It has 501(c)4 status from the IRS and is also registered to lobby Congress in support of the war. It has given $623,000 to Vets for Freedom.

It has planned to establish a 501(c)3 called Stand United for Freedom. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed several complaints against Freedom's Watch with the Federal Election Commission for violating election laws. According to Freedom's Watch's application for tax exemption with the IRS, "While FW may support or oppose specific ballot measures or legislation, the organization does not plan to devote any significant resources to support or opposing any candidate or group of candidates for public office."

Funders: Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is a major financial backer.

Leadership: Joe Eule, Ari Fleischer, Mel Sembler, William Weidner, Matthew Brooks, Carl Forti, Stephen J. O'Connor, Ryan Teague, Ed Patru, Bradley Blakeman, Michael Leavitt. Read more about these leaders in The Secret Money Project's Who's Who Directory of Key Leaders of Independent Groups.

Will Evans if a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, NPR's partner in the Secret Money Project.