Every once in a while, someone who doesn’t like the free legal representation PLF provides to individuals threatened by government abuse or who opposes our mission to restore individual liberty from coast to coast will scour the internet for some conspiracy theory to connect us with. Many are impossible to predict, even if they are pretty funny. After all, you can find almost anything on the internet—and perhaps I really am a space alien without even realizing it!
But one trope that occasionally pops up is that PLF is the tool of big business, that we are funded predominantly by the Koch brothers and big businesses, especially big oil, tobacco and timber companies, and that we are just doing their bidding. This claim is sometimes seemingly supported by listing some corporations that bankroll PLF. Like a lot of conspiracy theories, this one incorporates a kernel of misleading evidence, since a few of those companies have given modest donations to PLF in the past.
Some TV, radio, and print reporters even jump to the sensational, and sensationally wrong, conclusion that PLF receives “most” of its support from business or big business (both are wrong), and thus, such businesses must be calling the shots at PLF. The truth is that PLF is funded by thousands of grassroots supporters who value our mission and outstanding record of success vindicating individual rights. For example, in our last seven appearances in the Supreme Court of the United States, PLF has prevailed every time, an enviable record for any litigation group.
For what it is worth, only a tiny amount of PLF’s funding has ever come from companies in the oil, tobacco, or lumber industries—or Koch-related individuals or foundations, which are the ones most often mentioned as funding PLF. Indeed, our support from large corporations of any type has always been quite low, even though we are always grateful for those who do review our public interest work for individuals and small entities and want to support it.
PLF’s tax filings and other reliable sources show the depth of our grassroots support. PLF also posts an analysis of its funding sources each year and sends it out in a press release, such as these for 2014 and 2013. The great majority of PLF’s donations come from individuals, estate gifts, and small family foundations, all of whom value the work that we do. Of our 9,881 donors in 2014, 89.7% gave less than $1000. Corporate donations, including small mom-and-pop companies, ranches, and other incorporated entities constituted about 13.7% of income, coming from 300 gifts.
PLF certainly doesn’t exist to defend large corporate interests. We are grateful for the few gifts we receive from major corporations, but such companies have provided less than 1/100th of PLF’s funding for the past several years, and we think that has been true for PLF’s history. In contrast, some major corporations give many thousands of times that amount to radical groups we often oppose. PLF’s strong defense of the free market runs counter to the operation of crony capitalists, which is why our real support is so broadly based.
This broad grassroots support leaves PLF free to help individuals, including small landowners and entrepreneurs in many states, stand up to government abuse. As for our motives, our actions speak far louder than any detractor’s musings, and our actions are clear for all to see who visit our website. We encourage everyone to visit our main website, review the work we do, and sign up for our newsletters.
As anyone can see, the clients we represent, always without charge, face government abuse and typically can’t afford to fight it on their own. A great number of our cases originate with individuals who request help through our website and have nowhere else to turn; other potential cases are referred by other attorneys and friends. The PLF litigators who review the case suggestions and offer to represent potential clients don’t consider whether that person is a donor (if they even know).
We’re always looking for good cases that will advance individual liberty, so if you have a case suggestion for us, please let us know at this webpage.