A quick recap: The Free State
Project (FSP) is an endeavor to get 20,000 "liberty-loving" people
to move to New Hampshire. The stated intent is to have them "work within
the political system to reduce the size and scope of government."
NH State Representative (Democrat) Cynthia
Free Staters "the single biggest threat the state is facing today"
and advocated establishing an "unwelcoming" environment
for them. Cynthia's intolerant comments made waves even outside
of New Hampshire, getting attention from Matt Welch at
Reason, Warner Todd Huston at Big
News's Brett Baier.
Which brings me to the editorial antics of my local paper, Foster's
Daily Democrat. Although they've never shown any interest
in covering the FSP in their news pages, they've published three
FSP-trashing editorials so far this year.
The first, on January
8 warned ominously that the FSP was "co-opting our way of life".
While barely criticizing Chase's invective as "inopportune", the
editorialist condemned the FSP as being "surreptitious" (without
providing a single example), and leaned
heavily on us-vs.-the-outsiders demagoguery.
The second came after some FSP wags sent Cynthia Chase a
thanking her for the free publicity. The humor-impaired
tsk-tsked: the FSP, he said, "had some growing up to do."
And then, finally, yesterday:
"Cat is out of the bag ... for sure", the headline read.
The editorialist had found a smoking gun! Where? Why, in the words
of Carla Gericke, the FSP President! (As reported in the Union
Leader, because as previously stated, Foster's has shown
no interest in covering the FSP in its own news pages.) The issue is how soon it will take for the FSP to
reach its 20,000-person pledge goal.
Based on the current recruiting rate, Gericke said, the pledge total
would hit 20,000 in 2018, triggering the large-scale move to New
Hampshire. Under that scenario, the goal would be to have all pledgers
relocate by 2023.
However, Gericke said she does not want to wait
until she is 51 years old to trigger the move.
"I want to do it
in the next two years," she said, explaining the only way to accelerate
the move is to begin major fundraising efforts and secure sponsors to
help raise about $270,000 - a figure she believes could make the move
Uh, so what's so nefarious about that? The Foster's editorialist
If the goal of 20,000 members by 2015 sounds suspicious, it should. That
would be in time for a next full presidential election cycle, which
would include not only state offices but most of the state's
Whoa. I hope you were sitting down for the revelation of that
bit of news.
Now, how silly is this, really? When the FSP hits the 20K pledge mark,
that is supposed to start the five-year window during which the
signers are supposed to move to New Hampshire. (How many will actually
do that is anyone's guess, but I would bet: fewer than 20K.)
But the Foster's "suspicious"
editorialist imagines the dark future of
2015 when 20,000 Free Staters show up all at once and …
do what, exactly? Well, worst case: "work within the political system
to reduce the size and scope of government." You know, exactly as their
Statement of Intent states.
[Just to be clear: I'm not a Free Stater, having moved to NH when Jason
Sorens was about 8 years old. But, heck, I wish all 20,000
of them were here today.]
The Foster's editorialist also makes a big deal about the FSP's
stated desire to organize itself under the IRS's 501(c)(3)
rules. He is, in fact, aghast:
But a 501c3 is a nonprofit that under the Internal Revenue Code, "may
not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its
activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or
against political candidates."
I have no opinion on whether the FSP should organize as a
501(c)(3), but in fact a lot of advocacy groups do so,
perfectly legally: examples include
Planned Parenthood, the National Rifle Association,
the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, People for the American
Way Foundation, etc.
It's a mixed blessing that Foster's news reporting on the FSP
is nearly non-existent. If it were as transparently lame and
grudge-driven as its editorials, it would certainly be an easy target
for a blogger to make fun of.