Minnesota Freedom Fund to lobby lawmakers for end to cash bail

The co-executive director of the organization claimed that he and his "clients" have been "maligned in the media."

The Minnesota Capitol and State Office Building in St. Paul, Minn. (Minnesota Department of Administration/Flickr)

Members of the controversial Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) have announced the launch of a sister organization that will lobby for legislation and endorse political candidates to help end the state’s cash bail system.

In a Tuesday livestream, four high-ranking members of Minnesota Freedom Fund Action (MFF Action) explained the purpose of the new advocacy group, doubling down on their opposition to pre-trial detention and the current immigration detention system.

Elizer Darris, co-executive director of both the MFF and MFF Action, stated that MFF Action aims to help build a stronger “grassroots coalition” to pass anti-cash bail legislation and defend it from “political, legal, and disinformation campaigns.”

He also painted a dark picture of “heightened threats” and conservative opposition to their agenda, both locally and nationwide. He said he hopes MFF Action can put the parent organization “out of business.”

“The launch of MFF Action should signal to our opponents that we are fully and vocally joining the fight for pre-trial fairness and immigration justice in Minnesota,” said Darris. “We look forward to MFF Action putting the Minnesota Freedom Fund out of business.”

“But make no mistake: The Minnesota Freedom Fund will only close our doors when the cash bail system and the harms of immigration detentions have been eliminated,” he added.

Darris praised the introduction of HF 854, which would eliminate bail for certain misdemeanor offenses.

Critics of MFF’s agenda argue that their idea of bail reform would put dangerous criminals back onto the streets and thereby endanger public safety. Minnesota Republicans have previously introduced legislation to prohibit the registration of nonprofits that exist to provide “payment to a person or to a state court in order to satisfy a bail condition determined by the court.”

“They have brought pain and distress to victims and all Minnesotans who no longer feel safe in their communities because of the rise in crime,” said Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, who sponsored the legislation.

According to its most recent financial disclosure, the Minnesota Freedom Fund claimed over $41 million in revenue in 2020. Although the organization achieved notoriety that year after promising to bail out people jailed during the George Floyd riots, the group’s interim executive director later admitted only a “dozen” individuals benefited from their intervention.

As Alpha News has documented, MFF has bailed out numerous criminals who have gone on to commit violent crimes while out on bail, including murder, sex offenses and serious assaults.

In other cases, MFF secured the release of an alleged child rapist and a man who reportedly left his own 71-year-old mother in a pool of blood.

“The cash bail system criminalizes poverty, forcing legally innocent people with less wealth to remain incarcerated while wealthier people accused of the same crime go free. We work to extend the same constitutional right to cash bail to everyone, regardless of their wealth,” MFF said in response to past criticism.

Darris, who was previously appointed to a state board by Gov. Tim Walz, said his organization has faced a “relentless campaign of harassment and disinformation on social media.”

“We and our clients have been maligned in the media, attacked by statewide and national candidates for office, harassed by right-wing pundits and crime watch accounts, and targeted by legislation aimed explicitly at closing our doors,” he said. “Bail funds are under attack in the media, in the courts, and in state houses across the country.”



Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.