Franklin’s Warning ‘Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech,’ California Style


By Tim Phillips and David Spady

Benjamin Franklin’s warning is perhaps more apt today than at any point in American history. In the past four years, the Democratic Party and the progressive movement have been dealt devastating losses at the ballot box, in large part becauseEverett Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), portrait by David Martin, 1767 voters rejected their policies as violations of fundamental liberties.

Yet rather than debate the merits of their policies, many on the left responded with a coordinated campaign to suppress free speech—primarily by intimidating, demonizing and silencing the people who opposed and defeated them. Examples include the Internal Revenue Services’ targeting of conservative nonprofit groups, Senate Democrats’ recent attempt to write a new constitutional amendment that would gut the First Amendment, and a host of other anti-free-speech efforts at both the state and federal level.

Our organizations, Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit advocacy group that mobilizes grass-roots activists to support or oppose specific legislation and hold lawmakers accountable, and Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which educates citizens about the benefits of free-market policies, have been among the left’s primary targets.

President Obama has personally leveled attacks on our nonprofits on numerous occasions, as has Majority Leader Harry Reid in speeches from the Senate floor. Their allies, whether in Congress, in the federal bureaucracy or affiliated groups, have gone to great lengths to discredit and destroy us.

On Dec. 9 the AFP Foundation filed suit in federal court to stop the latest such attack—California Attorney General Kamala Harris ’s demand that we disclose our donors, including their names, addresses and contribution levels. Ms. Harris has indicated that the penalty for noncompliance will be financial penalties for our individual officers and directors as well as a denial of nonprofit status, essentially ending our work in the state of California.

Ms. Harris claims she will not disclose this information to the public. But this is a hollow promise. There is no provision of California law that ensures confidentiality. Indeed, California law appears to be…(read more)


Mr. Phillips is the president and Mr. Spady is the California state director of Americans for Prosperity.

2 Comments on “Franklin’s Warning ‘Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech,’ California Style”

  1. Centinel2012 says:

    Reblogged this on Centinel2012 and commented:
    Free Speech is Free Speech and that is the FIRST Amendment with the SECOND Amendment the right to bear arms number two to protect number one. Both are under heavy assault from the progressives since it will be very very hard to complete the transformation of the United States into their vission of what the country should be like. And that vission is now very clear and it is a semi-free market system under total control by a central government that is in effect a single party. There is little difference between the DNC and the RNC at their core at some point they will merger and each will cast off the base. Leaving the reformed Democratic/Republican party 65% a small socialist party 15% and a small conservative party 20%. The old Democratic/Republican party dissolved prior to the US civil and if it reforms that may lead to the second US civil war. That would be a sad think but the assault on the bill-of-Rights is well under way and may not be stoppable!

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