Writer's note one: This is the last part of a three part series on Sloan Rachmuth and Education First Alliance (parts one and two can be found at the following links).
In this series, I will attempt to answer the following questions: Who is Sloan Rachmuth really? What is Education First Alliance and what are its goals? Why are Moore and Hoke County "conservative" politicians (and politicians all over the state) so eager to jump into bed with this woman? In part one of the series, we will look at the rise of EFA in NC politics and the tactics it employs to ensure success. In part two we will be looking at Ms. Rachmuth's qualifications and credentials as both an "expert" in public education and as an investigative reporter. In part three we will examine the true agenda of Rachmuth and EFA and examine the money being brought in and how it is being spent.
Writer’s note two: I want to state clearly that although the conservative activist group Honey Badger tribe is heavily cited in this commentary, HBT and Moore Voices have absolutely zero affiliation with one another. I do not know the women involved in HBT, and they do not know me. Moore Voices and HBT are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. We do not work together and I can’t imagine any circumstances under which we would. Having said that, HBT has done a thoroughly excellent job chasing down Sloan Rachmuth’s money trail and exposing her questionable financial dealings. I have used their work as a starting point for my own research and I have been able to confirm everything they have put out on this subject. I am linking several examples of their stellar videos here so that my readers can see the simple breakdowns of the information provided.
Writer's note three: I am well aware of the risks of posting this commentary. Sloan and her supporters have made it a mission in their lives to dox, harass, and silence all their critics. The thing about me is, I have no skeletons left in the closet. Everything is already out in the streets. Furthermore, I'm finally in a position in my life that these people can't hurt me any longer. Let them bring up my beer ticket, let them bring up the fact that I was once in a romantic relationship with a registered sex offender, let them bring up my bad credit, let them bring up the fact that I dye my hair, I'm in serious need of dental work, and I'm an all-around b*tchy person. They can't hurt me. And I will not be silenced by their bullying and their schoolyard intimidation tactics. The sad fact of the matter is Sloan and her minions can't refute the facts that are out there for anyone who wants to see them to find. The only move they have is to double down on personal attacks and cyber stalking. That speaks more about who Sloan is and what her organization is all about than anything any of us critics can say.
Who is Sloan Rachmuth and what is Education First Alliance
Part Three: Follow the Money
Education First Alliance first came to prominence in our state during the national kerfuffle surrounding the manufactured crisis regarding Critical Race Theory being taught in our public schools. Sloan Rachmuth, EFA’s founder and president, originally organized the entity as a non-profit. She is also the founder of another “nonprofit,” Pen and Shield, which claims to be “a nonprofit newsroom focused on investigative journalism and defending the legal rights of those on the frontlines defending freedom” (https://www.penandshieldproject.org/).
Over the past couple of years, Ms. Rachmuth has successfully marketed herself as an “expert” on public education and has managed to ingratiate herself and her organization with very powerful movers and shakers in the Republican party across the state. She has run “boot camps” to recruit and train “conservative” candidates all over North Carolina and has been invited to be a guest on national media shows to give her perspective as an “expert” on CRT and sex education in our public schools.
Ms. Rachmuth has achieved much success and obtained much influence in a very short period of time. Part of me admires her for getting so much attention with so little effort and being able to raise so much money for her cause. The amount of political power she has amassed in the last two years is almost unbelievable.
But Ms. Rachmuth has also made some serious mistakes.
Her scorched earth tactics of intimidation, cyber-stalking, doxing, and harassment of ANYONE who disagrees with her propaganda or ANYONE who questions her statements in even the slightest way have made her a lot of enemies. She put cash bounties on the heads of any teacher who spoke out against her untruths and exaggerations (https://edfirstnc.medium.com/we-posted-this-and-radical-left-teachers-walked-right-into-our-trap-8f88c167d610), alarming public education advocates. She picked a fight with a tenacious group of conservative activists who refused to toe her line. She advertised an event in Charlotte, selling tickets to the public by promising an appearance by NC Lt. Governor Mark Robinson even when his own office claimed he never committed to attending. These mistakes have made a lot of people who otherwise would ignore Ms. Rachmuth, EFA, and Pen & Shield start to dig around in public documents to get a better idea of exactly what she and her organizations are up to. All that digging around has produced information that is very problematic for Ms. Rachmuth.
Every statement made below is backed up by public records. Most of it was first exposed by conservative activist group, Honey Badger Tribe, but I have verified it all for myself. I encourage my readers to visit the websites of the NC Secretary of State, the FEC, and the IRS to review the public documents relating to Education First Alliance and Pen & Shield for themselves.
Let’s start with EFA.
Education First Alliance was first organized as a nonprofit, However, there was a problem with it operating as such. Nonprofits are forbidden by federal law from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/the-restriction-of-political-campaign-intervention-by-section-501c3-tax-exempt-organizations#:~:text=Under%20the%20Internal%20Revenue%20Code,candidate%20for%20elective%20public%20office
Records on the NC Secretary of State website indicate EFA filed as a charity in June of 2021 and that status expired on May 15, 2022. In March of 2022, EFA announced that it would be reorganized as a federal PAC; however, EFA did NOT file the new status with the NC Secretary of State. On June 15, 2022, activists posted a video on social media highlighting the problems with EFA soliciting donations while representing itself to the state as a nonprofit but representing itself to the federal government as a PAC.
On June 28, 2022, EFA updated its status with the NC Secretary of State (coincidentally, immediately after the video by the conservative activists was made public). These dates are VERY important. As of May 2022, EFA was still representing itself as a nonprofit, but it WAS endorsing candidates. Moore County Board of Education candidates Pauline Bruno and Ken Benway were both formally endorsed by EFA and both of them promoted EFA’s endorsement in their campaign materials and speeches well BEFORE the May 17th 2022 primary. During that time frame, it appears EFA was soliciting donations and endorsing candidates while still representing itself as a nonprofit to the state of North Carolina.
Let’s move past the paperwork and look at the money trail now. If EFA is a PAC that is supposed to be helping get "conservative" candidates elected, why is none of the funds collected through donations by EFA actually going to candidates? Although EFA has ENDORSED candidates, it hasn't donated to the campaign of ANY candidate.
EFA PAC has spent $0 on candidates thus far. However, roughly half of all the donations it has collected has gone to their founder and president, Sloan Rachmuth. Nearly 2/3 of its expenditures, roughly $10,000, has gone to Sloan Rachmuth personally.
On June 15, 2022 EFA PAC reported giving Sloan Rachmuth, founder of EFA, $3,000 with no description. This is the latest payment to Sloan, whereas other “reimbursements” to her total $3,828.34.
In June, 2022 EFA PAC paid $3,000 to Education First Defenders, LLC, a limited liability company registered to the same address Sloan Rachmuth lists on her voter registration as her place of residence. There is also an expenditure to a company which doesn’t appear to even exist - at least not at the address or under the name EFA listed on its official expenditure report.
In total, based on names of disbursement and affiliated addresses, it appears nearly $10,000 of the $15,164.06 spent by EFA PAC has gone directly to Sloan Rachmuth.
Interestingly enough, the accountant's report to the Federal Government contains multiple errors. Not only are there many misspellings, but David Hensley, (sitting MoCo BoEd member and owner of Quantico Tactical in Hoke County who has thus far donated $750 to EFA) was misidentified as a pharmacist from Aberdeen. Many listed addresses by donors (including Mr. Hensley) are business addresses, and not home addresses as required by law.
Below is a link to a point by point breakdown of all monetary anomalies surrounding EFA PAC.
Now let’s take a look at Pen & Shield, Sloan’s other nonprofit.
According to their website, Pen & Shield claims to be “a nonprofit newsroom focused on investigative journalism and defending the legal rights of those on the frontlines defending freedom.”
Pen & Shield filed NO PAPERWORK OR REPORTS to the NC Secretary of State’s office or the IRS until September 2022 when it filed a tax return for the fiscal year 2021 Despite just recently filing its first tax return, it has been operating and collecting donations as a nonprofit since at least June 18, 2020 when it made it’s first blog post. In fact, Pen & Shield was DENIED a license to solicit charitable contributions in July of 2021. The IRS didn’t grant Pen & Shield 501c status until September 11, 2021.
According to the tax return filed by Pen & Shield to the IRS for fiscal year 2021, it brought in approximately $65,000 in donations. Considering that Pen and Shield has not published ONE SINGLE ARTICLE since September of 2020, it’s fair to ask what those donations have been used for. Those who have donated their hard earned money to a nonprofit newsroom have the right to know why it hasn’t produced any news or commentary in over two years. In spite of the inactivity, Pen & Shield continues to solicit donations. (https://www.penandshieldproject.org/).
More on Pen & Shield's tax filings can be found here:
This three part series on Sloan Rachmuth and Education First Alliance has covered the harassment and intimidation tactics it uses against public school teachers and its critics. This series has covered how Ms. Rachmuth has misrepresented herself as an investigative journalist and an expert on public education. This third commentary has covered the problematic money trail of her “nonprofits” and demonstrated that a large portion of the money she raises goes directly into her own pocket. At this point, it’s fair to ask why any candidate would wish to be associated with her in any way. Why do so many Republicans seeking elected positions so eagerly accept her endorsement? Why do local Republican county groups continue to invite her to their fundraising events? Why isn’t anyone affiliated with the state Republican party speaking our against EFA’s smarmy tactics?
Several Republican candidates have spoken to me off the record and confessed that they are very uncomfortable with Ms. Rachmuth's bullying and harassing tactics as well as with her problematic record keeping involving how her nonprofits handle donations. They haven’t distanced themselves from Rachmuth and EFA for two major reasons:
She is popular with Republican voters in many rural communities who support her “work” against CRT and sex education in our schools.
Anyone who criticizes Ms. Rachmuth is immediately called an anti-Semite and is accused of being a racist neo-Nazi on Ms. Rachmuth’s powerful and popular media platforms.
As to reason number one, there is no Critical Race Theory being taught in any public school in NC and our teachers are NOT sexually grooming our children. Standing behind such provably false rhetoric makes me question anyone’s fitness to serve as an elected official with influence over public education.
As far as reason number two goes - well, I wouldn’t worry about it. Racism and antisemitic rhetoric only seem to bother Ms. Rachmuth as long as it isn’t being practiced by her allies. At an education “forum” hosted by Rachmuth and EFA in Charlotte earlier this year (the one she advertised would feature Mark Robinson even though his office claimed he had no intention of attending), Rachmuth posed with Johnston County Board of Education candidate and proudly confessed member of the Proud Boys, John Fischer. In spite of Ms. Fischer’s dubious claims that the Proud Boys is not a racist organization, its racism and racist activities are documented in detail in multiple public forums and by the press. In fact, Proud Boys marched in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally with members of the Oath Keepers and Neo Nazis carrying NAZI FLAGS while chanting “Jews will not replace us.”
I suppose Ms. Rachmuth could claim that she was unaware of Mr. Fischer’s affiliation with the Proud Boys when she appeared with him, smiling for the cameras during her forum and plastered the resulting picture all over her social media pages.
It would be hard for Ms. Rachmuth to make any such claim - considering Mr. Fischer is wearing his Proud Boy hat in the very picture she posed for and posted.
***Commentary by Cheryl Christy, Cheryl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org