The chief operating officer left the group this week after enduring a barrage of attacks from a website called FreedomWoke, which had been calling for his dismissal citing his record of lobbying for the Humane Society’s legislative arm and his work on behalf of Animal Wellness Action. . «Why is FreedomWorks ‘waking up’?» the site read.
The entity behind that anti-Irby campaign is Berman and Co., a public relations firm founded by public relations executive Richard Berman, whose work on behalf of corporate interests led him to be dubbed by his critics as “evil doctor.” Berman is no longer with the firm, but Berman and Co. confirmed his involvement.
“FreedomWorks donors and staff deserved to know about Marty Irby’s record of supporting Big Government liberals,” said Will Coggin, spokesman for FreedomWoke and vice president of Berman and Co. “You should go look at his rights agenda. animals elsewhere.
It is rare for public relations departments to become involved in specific leadership battles within non-governmental entities. But Berman and Co. has a long and acrimonious history of fighting animal rights groups. One of the entities Berman and Company has partnered with is HumaneWatch, an organization accused of being a front group for corporate interests that has repeatedly attacked the Humane Society. HumaneWatch is one of the websites which raised concerns about Irby.
In a series of text messages, Irby said he resigned as FreedomWorks’ chief operating officer Tuesday while in Los Angeles for the Hollywood premiere of «Wild Beauty: Mustang Spirit of the West,» a documentary that focuses on horses. savages for which he was a special advisor and cast member. Irby has experience in Republican politics, including serving as press secretary for former Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), but said he’s also driven by a desire to help «America’s equines and other animals.»
Having left his position at FreedomWorks, he said he would focus on his role as senior advisor at the Animal Wellness Foundation in Los Angeles and open his own public relations and lobbying firm focused on farm bill clearance.
“I have new opportunities as a result of the movie being released that have opened some doors for me in a big way,” he told POLITICO before sending a series of stunning photos from the red carpet of the film’s premiere.
Irby accused FreedomWoke of waging a campaign against him to divert attention from what he called «corruption within the National Cattlemen’s Association». She advocated for legislation called the Agricultural Equity Opportunity Act that would reform discount programs that provide funds for commodity research and promotion.
“I will say that I am a staunch Republican who supports Trump and has supported President Trump since he first announced his candidacy for President in the primaries of his first race,” he wrote in a text. “These attacks are happening only because I am an effective threat to factory farming corruption because I have worked to successfully enact 12 animal protection laws since 2018 and the National Beef Ranchers Association is scared shitless about what the public will find out if the OFF Law passes.” (Another Berman entity, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, has been involved in furthering the interests of the meat industryincluding a campaign against fake meat)
Over the past month, FreedomWoke portrayed Irby as an animal rights extremist who had worked for pro-Democratic groups. His website included a photo of Irby standing next to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and points to his previous praise of Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey (Irby said he was simply comparing him to Joe Biden).
In an interview, FreedomWorks president Adam Brandon confirmed Irby’s departure and said he wished the former employee well, but referred further comments to human resources, which did not respond to a request for comment.
Berman and Co. declined to provide details about its donors, but its record of advocating against animal rights organizations and using nonprofit groups to further its political agenda has raised concerns in the past. He Philadelphia Humane League defendant the firm and other related entities after a nonprofit organization affiliated with Berman paid for an ad in The New York Times that read: «WHY IS THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES HELPING A TERRORIST GROUP RAISE MONEY?»