Moms for Liberty isn’t the only “moms” group attacking public education. Moms for America, formerly known as Homemakers for America, is a far-right activist group targeting public education – and unlike M4L, they’ve been around for almost two decades.
Alyssa Bowen, Senior Researcher and Managing Editor for the progressive watchdog group True North Research, published a report on July 9 detailing the history of Moms for America, its ties to other far-right religious groups, and the threat it poses to public schools, elections, and democracy.
“They started off in 2005, and they were called Homemakers for America,” said Bowen in an interview with the Out d’Coup podcast. “They, like a lot of other groups who we’re seeing in 2020-2021, pivoted more to attack schools, thinking specifically about COVID misinformation early in 2021.”
In 2018, the group changed their name to Moms for America, but the rebrand did not signify a change in beliefs. Instead, they began focusing on a new target: public education.
“They were early on the train in appropriating this identity of a mother to push their agenda and attack schools,” Bowen said.
Like M4L, Moms for America frames themselves as “concerned mothers,” but reading into the group’s history reveals a litany of connections with far-right Christian organizations across the United States. In particular, Bowen explained, Moms for America played a significant role in the “Stop the Steal” rallies of Jan. 5, which culminated in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
“Moms for America was more involved with Ali Alexander and January 5 organizing,” said Bowen. “The founder of Moms for America was in text communication with Ali Alexander and other leaders of the rally. They had Cindy Chafian, who, very shortly thereafter, was hired by Moms for America. She helped organize, spoke at the rally, her husband helped lead security, and he is the leader of this right-wing militant group, 1st Amendment Praetorian.”
Since the pandemic, Moms for America has seen a major boost in funding.
“We have seen, based on public tax filings, their revenue increase significantly almost every year that we know of where there are tax records available. In 2005, when they started, they were taking in $12,000 in revenue. And then, every year thereafter that we know of, substantial jumps,” said Bowen. “But nothing compared to the sort of jump between 2020 and 2021, where it was 1 million, a little bit more that. And then we jump to 3.1 million. That’s an astronomical jump.”
One of the group’s most generous donors is Julie Jenkins Fancelli, heiress to the Publix supermarkets fortune. Bowen said that a third of Moms for America’s funding comes from Fancelli, who has also donated considerable amounts of money to groups like M4L, to which she recently gave $50,000.
“It’s really interesting to see this tie between attacks on our elections and our schools,” said Bowen, “because they’re really intertwined, and democracy depends on our education system being equitable and fair and available to all.”
Fancelli isn’t the only wealthy right-wing figure giving money to Moms for America. Another one of their major donors is the Bradley Impact Fund, a right-wing organization from Milwaukee that supports causes like voter suppression, dark money groups, and school privatization. In 2021, Bowen said, the Bradley Impact Fund donated over $750,000 to Moms for America.
In addition, Moms for America has been involved in pushing the Big Lie, with many of its affiliates and staff having participated in the Jan. 5-6 rallies, demanding recounts, and destroying voter machines. They even presented awards to people who push similar narratives; Kari Lake, who lost her 2022 campaign for governor of Arizona, was given the “Mothers of Influence” award by Moms for America.
“I don’t know how much they spent on the awards ceremony for that, but in 2020 they spent an absurd amount on an award ceremony,” Bowen said. “I think it was $1.7 million. I’m sure that’s also how they are able to attract donors.”
Moms for America may exaggerate its influence, but the impact it’s had on school board politics is undeniable. “They claim to have influenced 43 school board elections in 13 counties,” said Bowen. “This year they’ve already backed dozens of school board candidates in Virginia, South Carolina, Illinois, and Texas, and I’m sure they have plans of backing more this year and next year, and that’s terrifying.”
The solution? Bowen stated that spreading knowledge about Moms for America and other lesser-known right-wing groups like it can be a powerful tool for raising awareness and identifying threats to public education.
“We want to know who is attacking our democratic principles,” she said, “but I think it’s important for people to know that this isn’t just a one-pronged effort. There are so many existing groups like Independent Women’s Forum and FreedomWorks that have been around for a long time, attacking schools and trying to divert public funds, taxpayer dollars, to privately-administered alternatives that don’t have the same protections…And then there’s groups like Moms for America that have existed for a long time, but they have pivoted to take advantage of this opportunity where education seems to be in the spotlight and use this identity as women and moms to further this agenda.”