Don’t be fooled by “Moms for Liberty,” writes political scientist Maurice Cunningham. They may appear to be a garden-variety group of rightwing extremists, but they are more than that. Keep your eye on the Dark Money that funds them.

He writes:

The group, which claims to be about “parent rights,” has ties to the January 6 insurrection and is expected to provide “foot soldiers” for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Moms for Liberty (M4L) claims the organization was started by moms.

[Insert uproarious laughter.]

But it is hard to believe that three mothers in Florida could start up a grassroots group on January 1, 2021, and then, within a matter of weeks and months, wind up on Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Carlson’s show, Glenn Beck, and Fox News. However, there is a shadowy network of money and influence in right-wing political circles that could arrange that easily.

Among M4L’s financial supporters and profile boosters are some of the most influential organizations, media operations, and wealthy donors in the vast theater of the right-wing propaganda machine.

And it would be a mistake to believe M4L’s agenda is exclusively about maternal concerns over what children learn in schools. Instead, most of the organization’s purported success seems to be in helping to advance a much broader right-wing political agenda through electoral politics. In its short history, M4L has already been credited with helping to engineer a “massive victory,” according to Salon, and ensuring a string of wins for a number of Republican candidates in school board elections across Florida.

Looking ahead at the upcoming elections, M4L is expected to provide the “foot soldiers” for the reelection bid of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and many also expect to see the M4L soldiering for DeSantis in the 2024 presidential race.

The Rise of Moms for Liberty…

M4L was born into a full-scale right-wing media rollout. As Olivia Little of Media Matters reported in July 2022, M4L debuted on The Rush Limbaugh Show in January 2021—right out of the cradle. M4L representatives have since appeared “on Fox News at least 16 times and Steve Bannon’s War Room at least 14 times,” according to Little. As her reporting and my own investigation in April 2021indicated, M4L initially had practically no members or state infrastructure. But appearances on Fox and fawning treatment in right-wing outlets like Breitbart News and Glenn Beck propelled its growth.

By June 11, 2021, M4L threw a fundraisercalled “Fearless: An Evening with Megyn Kelly,” the former Fox News celebrity. The highest-priced ticket of $20,000 for the “presenting sponsor” included 20 tickets to a meet-and-greet along with a photo with Megyn Kelly and came with many other benefits. There were other offers that included lesser benefits for donors making contributions of $15,000 or $10,000 and the general admission was $50….

M4L’s grandest event thus far has been its national summit, which took place between July 14 and 17, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. The national summit featured speeches by DeSantis, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, Carson, former Florida Governor and current U.S. Senator Rick Scott, and Trump’s former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who advocated for the abolition of the department she had led, according to Florida Phoenix….

When asked, the leaders of M4L say they raise a lot of money from T-shirt sales. [Cue loud laughter.]

But Cunningham knows that’s not the main source of their funding.

Open the link to learn who turned this “parent-led” group into a Dark Money political powerhouse.