The co-founders of the American Liberty Foundation were:
- Perry Willis
- Harry Browne
With our thanks, these are the individuals who served in staff, team vendor, or board member capacities between January, 2001 & May, 2004, listed in order of seniority of service as of May, 2004.
- Harry Browne
- Jim Babka
- Stephen Willis
- Kristin Overn
- Geoff Braun
- Perry Willis
- Art Matsko
- Phil Smeiles
- Kent White
- Steve Dasbach
- Jack Mullen
- Laura Carno
- David Ruprecht
- Marc Montoni
- David Bergland
- Jack Williams
- Jack Dean
- Stephanie Yanik
- Robert DeVoil
- Elias Israel
- Robert Brunner
- Robert Flohr, RIP
We made a commitment to the individuals at the following links, who helped us build our organization, that we would post their names in perpetuity. We encourage you to visit the following links to learn who made us possible.
The Founders Committee
The Producers Committee
It's time to
On May 28, 2004, the American Liberty Foundation closed its doors
and became the Downsize DC
Foundation. We encourage you to visit our new site.
These pages are maintained as a memorial to nearly three-and-a-half
years worth of work done by a team of people led first by founder
Perry Willis, and then by Jim Babka.
The American Liberty Foundation, and its sister organization
RealCampaignReform.org (RCR), raised about $300,000 per year (combined),
between 2001 and 2003. It was a true bootstrap operation, but we
accomplished incredible things even with these limited resources.
RCR took on what we consider the most important initiative in
the libertarian movement since 1997 — a campaign to break
the legal monopoly congressional incumbents and major parties have
conferred upon themselves. The foundation of this legal monopoly
are the campaign finance laws, which are really incumbent protection
First, RCR fought the new McCain-Feingold incumbent protection
law by generating 3,000 emails to members of Congress. When that
law, formally known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002
(BCRA) passed, RCR filed a lawsuit challenging both its constitutionality,
and the constitutionality of the entire campaign finance regime.
Our bold, principled approach made it to the Supreme Court for
review. Our arguments attracted the attention of four of the Justices,
but we were still defeated in both Title I and Title II of the
law by counts of 6-3 and 5-4, respectively.
RCR also built the most comprehensive, pro-1st Amendment website
on the Internet. A powerful alternative to the dozens of anti-free
speech and anti-free press sites like Common Cause and the Brennan
Center. On top of that, RCR broadcast radio ads and sponsored two
amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in related cases. You can view
the archived site by clicking on the RCR banner on the right side
of this page.
Our Armed & Secure (A&S) project focused on the gun issue.
It produced 3 Hollywood-style TV ads. These ads were broadcast
on 5.2 million TV sets on CNN, FoxNews, Headline News, and the
Outdoor Channel. The project also ran radio ads in more than a
dozen cities around the country. You can see and hear the ads by
clicking on the A&S banner on the right side of this page.
The A&S website also features a Debate Center, chronicling
a fictional debate on the gun issue. A&S also produced a small
book, “How to Persuade Your Friends & Family Guns Save
Lives & Reduce Crime”, and an Audio Guide, featuring
Harry Browne, “How You Can Make Your Community (Much) Safer.”
Our “TruthAboutWar” campaign was a spur-of-the-moment
campaign, launched in response to the build-up to a pre-emptive,
undeclared war in Iraq. The project was inspired by several articles
by foundation co-founder Harry Browne, an article by Jude Wanniski,
and a comment by supporter Bill Olson. Through extensive research,
a handful of government outsiders – our team – saw
what the mass media, the politicians, and the bureaucracy couldn’t
see; that the war was being sold the American public through deceptive
intelligence. The foundation's team leaped into action, producing
a myth-busting website and a series of radio ads in a period of
just a few days.
The TruthAboutWar website made a series of claims and predictions.
The site was frozen on the day the war started, so these claims
and predictions are preserved for all to see (you can go to the
site by clicking on the TruthAboutWar banner on the right side
of this page).
Claim #1 was easily the most controversial. It was also the subject
of one of our radio ads, which were broadcast in nearly a dozen
cities around the United States. We claimed that Iraq had no weapons
of mass destruction, and as everyone now knows, we were right.
Sadly, our other predictions have also turned out to be right.
Making bold claims and issuing predictions might seem like tricky
work, but it's really not so hard when you rely on well established
“rules of thumb” (around here we call them “heuristics”)
about how politicians and governments operate. For example, if
a politician's lips are moving, he's probably lying. And if big
government politicians promise to accomplish something, the result
will probably be the exact opposite. These principles, along with
thorough research, guided the predictions we made about the war
Nearly everyone in America was fooled by the claims made for
the war in Iraq, including Senators and Representatives with access
to classified information. But we weren't fooled. We know from
long experience that government intelligence is a contradiction
Finally, the American Liberty Foundation launched Downsize DC
to show people how government uses our tax money to hurt people.
We proposed a plan for ending the income tax and replacing it with
nothing. More importantly, we showed that the real problem isn't
how much money government takes from us, but rather, the amount
government spends, and the negative impact that spending has on
all of our lives.
“Our team wasn’t here to quibble about various tax
plans, flat taxes versus value added taxes, or any of that kind
of thing. And we see no point in putting down the tax-and-spend
policies of the left, only to promote the borrow-and-spend policies
of the right,” declared president Jim Babka. “We went
right to the root of the problem. Government spending.”
The Downsize DC project also promoted a specific plan to cut
government spending and end the income tax. And we answered objections
about how to get from here to there – from big government
to small government. In addition to the Downsize DC website we
also produced supplemental material, such as a two-CD set of Harry
Browne Audio Guides titled “The Fatal Flaws of Big Government
Downsize DC also produced and aired radio ads in several
cities. Those ads can still be heard on the Downsize DC memorial
website – available by clicking the Downsize DC banner on
the right side of the screen.
Now Downsize DC has become the heart of our efforts, and we're
taking it in new directions. We’re excited about the new
Downsize DC. Downsize DC isn’t merely a political position;
it’s also a direction.
- It’s new and forward looking.
- It’s privately run, not collectively (politically) managed.
- It’s focused on ideas, not personalities.
- It loves the Constitution, but recognizes that the most powerful
sales message is that “liberty works for you.”
The new Downsize DC is composed of two organizations.
- The first, a public education organization called the Downsize
DC Foundation, centers around a highly interactive e-zine
(set to debut in November, 2004). This e-zine will make direct
comparisons between the harm done by government, and the wonders
created by business, charity, and science. The e-zine will also
feature an interactive mechanism that will allow users to lobby
the media to better cover stories of government harm along with
the ever-growing successes of the private sector in solving age-old
social problems that government has only made worse. We aim to
change the media's coverage, improve the contents of the American
mind, and alter the terms of the public debate in the direction
of Downsizing DC.
- The Foundation’s sister organization is DownsizeDC.org,
Inc. – the successor to RCR. In an environment where
political parties have had their power dramatically reduced by
legislative fiat, and incumbents no longer have to compete with
challengers to stay in office, we see the need for an alternative-mechanism
for bringing about political change. DownsizeDC.org is that alternative
mechanism. The organization is modeled after MoveOn, a left-wing
organization that has great faith in big government. “MoveOn
has demonstrated that a large standing army of activists can be
built. This army of activists broadcasts ads and puts direct political
pressure on politicians in Washington, DC using the Internet,”
said president Jim Babka. “DC Downsizers can take advantage
of our proprietary Electronic Lobbyist system to badger the politicians
to Downsize DC.”
Our team gets thing done. Please check-out our new efforts at