Independent Women's Forum

August 21, 2009 12:21 pm ET

With a new, misleading ad on health insurance reform, the Independent Women's Forum has jumped into the August fray.  Media Matters Action Network has provided some background information on the group's anti-women, anti-health care reform, and anti-environment activities and people.

Independent Women's Forum - Independently Working Against Women's Rights

The IWF Has Worked Against Women's Rights. The Independent Women's Forum opposed efforts for affirmative action and women's pay equality programs as well as opposed to spending tax monies to relieve violence against women.  [Inter-Hemispheric Resource Center Press, 4/12/05]

2000: IWF Filed Amicus Brief, Arguing That Victims Of Violence Should Not Be Able To Sue In Federal Court. The Washington Post reported that the Independent Women's Forum actively worked against the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. "In early 2000, the IWF filed an amicus curiae brief in a Supreme Court case challenging the legislation's 'gender crimes' provision as unconstitutional, arguing that Congress did not have the power to allow victims of such violence to sue in federal courts. The group argued in its 15-page brief that the legislation was a threat to states' rights and 'the preservation of our liberty.'" [Washington Post, 9/5/02, emphasis added]

IWF: "Battered Women's Movement Has Outlived Its Useful Beginnings." The Washington Post reported that the Independent Women's Forum actively worked against the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. "An article on [the Independent Women's Forum] Web site entitled 'Violence Against Taxpayers' said the legislation 'will do nothing to protect women from crime' but would 'perpetuate false information, waste money and urge vulnerable women to mistrust all men.' Another IWF article said the legislation is based on 'deceitful data' and argued that it 'is not only unconstitutional, but often harmful to the victims it purports to help.' [...] In other writings on the IWF Web site, the group argues that 'the battered women's movement has outlived its useful beginnings.' The site also argues that the legislation 'is based on ignorance, non-facts, and wishful thinking about the power of the federal government to curb violence between intimate partners.'" [Washington Post, 9/5/02, emphasis added]

  • Violence Against Women Act Provides Money To Women Who Have Been Victimized. According to the Washington Post, the Violence Against Women Act, enacted in 1994 and "renewed in 2000, provides funds to track down domestic abusers, expand shelters for battered women and prevent violent crimes against women on college campuses." [Washington Post, 9/5/02]

IWF President Applauded The Appointment Of Justice Alito.  In an IWF press release on November 2, 2005, then IWF president Nancy Pfotenhauer said, "Judge Alito is a highly-qualified candidate who has demonstrated his strong commitment to the principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law. It is clear from his record and his statements that his judicial philosophy is one we support, that as a judge he will interpret the law, not make law...Contrary to claims by some feminist groups that Alito is an extremist who will set back women's rights, IWF believes that Judge Alito is a fair-minded judge whose record will show that he is well within the mainstream.  We look forward to the confirmation process." [, accessed 5/30/08]

Directors Emiritae

Wendy Lee Gramm, Director Emeritus

Wendy Gramm "Aided Enron's Rise To Power." According to Public Citizen, "[Phil] Gramm s wife, Wendy Gramm, also aided Enron's rise to power. As chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, she pushed through a key regulatory exemption on Jan. 14, 1993, just as she was about to leave office. Five weeks later, she joined Enron's board of directors, where she served on the board's audit committee and had access to key financial information about the company." [, accessed 8/21/09]

Gramm's Wife Cashed Out Her Enron Stock, Earned Hundreds Of Thousands. According to the Dallas Morning News, Wendy Gramm's serve on Enron's board "brought her more than $276,000 in stock profits before she cashed out in 1998, and hundreds of thousands more in compensation since then." [Dallas Morning News, 1/18/02]

  • Enron Employees Lost Their Jobs, Pensions, And Savings When The Company Collapsed. The BBC reported that Enron employees "were forced by the company not to sell their stock even as the price plummeted from $85 to less than $1 in under a year. 'I know a friend in Houston, who is 52, has had a heart attack, has diabetes and then lost £800,000 in his pension plan,' the trader says. 'Now he doesn't have a job and he can't get health insurance. It's just unbelievable. I almost feel like I want to start a charity for him.'" [, 1/18/02]

Sally Pipes, Director Emeritus

Sally Pipes Is The President & CEO Of Pacific Research Institute.  According to its website, Sally C. Pipes is the President and CEO of Pacific Research Institute.  [, accessed 8/21/09]

PRI: Health Care Policies Stifle "The Engine Of Economic Growth And Opportunity."  One of PRI's five research groups is "Business and Economic Studies."  The BES group "examines how the entrepreneurial spirit, the engine of economic growth and opportunity, is stifled by onerous taxes, regulations, and health-care policies." [Pacific Research Institute, accessed 3/13/09]

PRI Supports "Free-Market Competition In Health Care."  According to, Pacific Research Institute "supports transferring power from the government to private organizations and individuals, especially in terms of education, the environment and health care. It believes that government taxes and regulations 'stifle' the nation's 'entrepreneurial spirit' and lead to problems in each of these domains. Thus, the organization promotes vouchers, increased standards and accountability, and 'teacher quality' in education; free-market competition in health care; and the elimination of federal social welfare programs, claiming that they result in reliance on the state and undue control of the government over individual lives." [, accessed 3/13/09]

Pipes Made The False Claim That Health Care Costs Doesn't Hurt U.S. Competitiveness: In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Pipes wrote "But the assertion that the costs of providing health insurance cripples American corporations in the global economy is simply wrong." [Wall Street Journal, 3/9/09]

  • Business Roundtable: Health Care Costs Make U.S. Firms Less Competitive Abroad. According to Reuters, "U.S. business leaders urged lawmakers on Thursday to act quickly on healthcare reform, saying American companies were losing out to other countries with cheaper healthcare and healthier workers." [Reuters, 3/12/09]

Nancy Pfotenhauer, Director Emeritus

Pfotenhauer Spent Six Years As Head Of The Independent Women's Forum. Pfotenhauer served as the president and CEO of the Independent Women's Forum starting in 2000, taking "charge at IWF at a time of major change, not least of which was the shift from playing defense against the Clinton administration to playing offense with the Bush administration."  She remained in the position until 2006, at which point she continued as Director of the Board and continued to do media for the organization. [, accessed 5/30/08; Washington Times, 5/7/04]

Pfotenhauer Was President Of Americans For Prosperity. Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer is the former president of Americans for Prosperity, according to an archived version of its website. [Americans For Prosperity, archived, accessed 5/7/08]

  • Americans For Prosperity: "Radical Environmentalists Threaten our Economy And Way Of Life." According to Americans for Prosperity's website issue section on Global Warming, "Radical environmentalists and central planners are using global warming alarmism, selling doomsday scenarios that can only be avoided if you give up your freedom and put your trust in Big Government. We have heard this song and dance before." [Americans for Prosperity, accessed 5/7/08]
  • Americans For Prosperity Warned Against "Dangers Of Global Warming Alarmism." The Daily Oklahoman reported, "A touring political rally to highlight the 'dangers of global warming alarmism' made a stop in downtown Oklahoma City this week. The so-called 'Hot Air Tour' is sponsored by an anti-tax group called Americans for Prosperity. Speakers gathering stood in front of a mock hot air balloon that was printed with this statement: 'Global warming alarmism: lost jobs, higher taxes, less freedom.'" [Daily Oklahoman, 5/3/08]
  • Pfotenhauer Wrote 2002 Op-Ed Using Anti-CAFE Scare Tactics. In a 2002 editorial in the Baltimore Sun titled "New Mandates For Gas Mileage Would Risk Lives," Pfotenhauer argued against increasing CAFE Standards. "Politicians in our nation's capital are taking steps that will almost inevitably increase fatalities on our nation's roads. Their reason is as straightforward as it is frightening: to curry favor with environmental special interest groups in an election year. ... CAFE mandates, born after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, neither reduced America's dependence on foreign oil nor lowered gasoline consumption. ... The evidence reveals that a sizable increase in CAFE standards would only modestly improve greenhouse gas emissions. According to 1991 figures from the Office of Technology Assessment, a 40 percent increase in fuel economy standards would lead to a reduction in greenhouse emissions of only about 0.5 percent given the optimal circumstances," she wrote. A similar version appeared in the Washington Times on 2/22/02. [Baltimore Sun, 2/26/02, emphasis added]

Pfotenhauer Was A Lobbyist For Koch Industries. According to Senate Lobbying Disclosure records, Pfotenhauer was a registered lobbyist with Koch Industries, first under her maiden name - Nancy Mitchell, and then as Nancy Mitchell Pfotenahuer, until 2001.  She served as the director of the Washington Office of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the U.S. [Americans For Prosperity, archived, accessed 5/7/08; Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records, accessed 5/7/08]

  • TPM: Americans For Prosperity Is Political Front For Koch Industries. Writing on TPM, Joshua Marshall reported, "Americans for Prosperity is the political arm of Koch Industries (i.e., a front) which the Koch family uses to aid conservative causes in general and stuff the Bush White House wants done in particular. (Koch Industries is a big oil, chemical and mining mega-corporation.) Folks seem to go from Koch Industries Washington lobby shop to Americans for Prosperity or back and forth from the White House on a pretty regular basis. And when you look even closer you'll see that they're all also tied in with Citizens for a Sound Economy, another spawn of the Koch family, which was essentially the predecessor of AforP." [TPM, 6/7/05]
  • Pfotenhauer Cited As Moving Between Koch And Americans For Prosperity. Writing on TPM, Joshua Marshall cited Pfotenhauer as one of several people shuffling back and forth between Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity and Citizens for a Sound Economy: "Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhaus is now the president of Americans for Prosperity. Before that she was the head of the lobby shop for Koch Industries. Before that she was executive vice president [f]or Citizens for a Sound Economy." [TPM, 6/7/05]
  • TPM: Pfotenhauer And Independent Women's Forum Also Linked To Koch. Writing on TPM, Joshua Marshall reported, "Running AforP must not take too much time because she's also president of the Independent Women's Forum. But it probably helps that both organizations are run out of the same office. Look into the inner-workings of Citizens for a Sound Economy, Americans for Prosperity, the Independent Women's Forum and you'll see it's pretty hard to see where one group starts and another stops. They just all seem to lead back to Koch Industries, run by the Koch brothers." [TPM, 6/7/05]