Right-wing megadonor Barre Seid has a history of funding controversial conservative political efforts, including a short-lived, right-wing political party in Illinois, called the Term Limits and Tax Limits Party.
Headed by the conservative activist and provocateur Steven Baer, the Term Limits and Tax Limits Party sought to institute term limits on political office and shrink the state’s balance sheet. The party found most of its adherents among the ranks of social conservatives, primarily anti-abortion activists.
Among the candidates that the Seid-funded party fielded in Illinois in 1994 was William H. Regnery, who was the party’s nominee for secretary of state that year. Regnery was a member of an influential, conservative publishing dynasty based in Chicago. Beginning in the early 1990s, Regnery drifted away from the mainstream Republican Party and increasingly ascribed to white nationalism and other racist ideologies.
In 2001, Regnery founded the Charles Martel Society, a white nationalist organization. He then created the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank, in 2005. Regnery’s successor as president of this organization was the American neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.
Regnery died in 2021, but his legacy lives on through the extreme right-wing organizations he founded and financed over the past twenty years.
Barre Seid Was The Main Backer Of A Far-Right Political Party That Fielded A White Supremacist Candidate Who Went On To Finance Prominent Alt-Right Organizations
Barre Seid Financed A Short-Lived, Political Third Party That Waged A Campaign Against The Illinois Republican Party, Believing It Was Too Liberal
In 1994, Conservative Activist Steven Baer Founded The Term Limits & Tax Limits Party In Illinois. “Baer was the anti-tax, anti-abortion candidate who lost to Gov. Jim Edgar, a Republican moderate, in the 1990 GOP primary and is exploring a general election campaign for governor atop the newly formed Term Limits & Tax Limits Party.” [Chicago Tribune, LexisNexis, 07/25/1994]
- According To Contemporaneous News Reports, The Term Limits & Tax Limits Party Received $715,997 From Chicago Businessman Barre Seid. “The Term Limits & Tax Limits Party reported receiving $ 715,997 from Chicago businessman Barre Seid, who teamed with Baer to cause Edgar problems once before. Seid lent nearly $ 500,000 to Baer’s unsuccessful 1990 primary campaign against Edgar and donated $ 550,000 to the United Republican Fund, which Baer headed at the time.” [Chicago Sun-Times, LexisNexis, 08/02/1994]
- This Made Seid The Largest Benefactor Of The Party, Whose War Chest Was About $1.1 Million.
[Term Limits & Tax Limits Party, D-2 Semiannual Report, filed on
7/29/1994, accessed 08/23/2022]
The Stated Purpose Of The Term Limits & Tax Limits Party Was To Limit Tax Hikes, Institute Term Limits, And Shrink The State’s Balance Sheet… “Purpose: To promote limited government In Illinois… Candidates pledge to: Reject increase in Illinois taxes, borrowing and spending; and support term limits of 2 terms for state lawmakers, 3 terms for U.S. Reps and 2 terms for U.S. Senators. [Terms Limits & Tax Limits Party, Illinois State Board of Elections, accessed 08/23/22]
…But The Party Mostly Found Its Allies Among Social Conservatives. “This is a hard thing to do, and it’s scary because it’s very threatening to the Establishment,” he said after meeting with anti-abortion groups, his main backers.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, LexisNexis, 08/14/1994]
- Illinois Pro-Family Voters, A Right-Wing Group Opposed To Abortion And LGBTQ Rights, Aired Radio Commercials Supporting Baer’s Party. “With just a week left to file third-party ballot petitions, a newly formed conservative group is airing radio commercials designed to support the Term Limits & Tax Limits Party. The group, Illinois Pro-Family Voters, said in a statement that Gov. Edgar and his Democratic challenger, Dawn Clark Netsch, hold “the same liberal positions on gays, gambling and abortion.” [Chicago Sun-Times, LexisNexis, 08/01/1994]
The Term Limits & Tax Limits Party Was Born Out Of Discontent With The State Republican Party In Illinois. “Larry Horist, executive director of the United Republican Fund, said, ‘(Baer’s) goal is to destroy the Republican Party this year and for Steve to make a serious run for governor in four years.’” [Chicago Sun-Times, LexisNexis, 07/14/1994]
The Illinois GOP, In Turn, Worked To Take Down Baer. “Republican officials are expected to make the first move Monday to try to remove conservative Steven Baer from the November ballot, contending about 70 percent of the signatures on his third-party petitions are invalid. A formal objection to be filed with the State Board of Elections will allege about 30,000 of the approximately 43,000 signatures Baer filed with election officials a week ago were obtained through “fraud, forgery and blatant disregard for state laws,” Republican sources said Sunday.” [Chicago Tribune, LexisNexis, 08/15/1994]
The State Republican Party’s Effort Ultimately Succeeded Once Baer Acknowledged That The Term Limits and Tax Limits Party Could Not Finance A Legal Challenge To Its Ballot Petitions. “Conservative Steven Baer on Friday quit his attempt to run for governor as leader of the Term Limits and Tax Limits ticket, saying his party lacked money to win a ballot challenge and support to win the election. Baer’s petitions to get on the ballot had been challenged by the Illinois Republican party, and it was too expensive to fight the challenge, he said. “We would have been bled to death by this thing,” Baer said at a morning press conference. The ultimate problem, Baer admitted, was lack of support.” Chicago Tribune, LexisNexis, 09/02/1994]
The Terms Limits & Tax Limits Party Fielded A Secretary Of State Candidate Who Went On To Bankroll The Rise Of The Alt-Right And Promote White Supremacy
Among The Candidates That The Party Put Up For Election In 1994 Was William H. Regnery II For The Office Of Secretary Of State. “The party’s local candidates include Craig Greenwood, a Downers Grove resident running for attorney general; William Regnery of Wayne, who is running for secretary of state; and Catherine Galvin, a Lombard resident running for University of Illinois trustee.” [Chicago Tribune, LexisNexis, 08/18/1994]
- The Term Limits & Tax Limits Party Dropped Its Entire Slate Of Candidates, Including Regnery, After The State Board Of Elections Began Auditing Their Ballot Petitions “Potential third-party gubernatorial contender Steven Baer said the nascent Term Limits & Tax Limits Party is dropping its candidates for secretary of state and treasurer.” [Chicago Tribune, 08/26/94]
Regnery Was A Member Of An Influential, Right-Wing Publishing Dynasty. “After World War II, Regnery’s uncle, Henry Regnery, made the family a power in GOP politics through his publishing house, which was subsidized by inherited wealth. He printed the works of writers whom he called “giants of American conservatism:” William F. Buckley Jr. (“God and Man at Yale”), Russell Kirk (“The Conservative Mind”), and Robert Welch, co-founder of the John Birch Society. Regnery books—anti-communist, anti-big-government and pro-business—helped define what it meant to be a Republican in postwar America.” [Mother Jones, 07/21/17]
Despite His Family’s Deep Involvement in GOP Politics, Regnery Became Disenchanted With The Party In The Early 1990s. “After college, Regnery worked in the family textile business. Court records show he was forced to resign as president in 1981 when the firm ran into financial trouble. After that, he grew disenchanted with the GOP, running for Illinois secretary of state in 1994 on the ticket of the fringe Term Limits & Tax Limits Party.” [Mother Jones, 07/21/17]
- Key To His Alienation From The Mainstream Republican Party Was A Fear That Embracing Globalization And The Free Market Would Lead To Nonwhite Immigration. “In his memoir, Regnery dated his alienation to a 1993 meeting of the conservative Philadelphia Society. Speakers were celebrating the collapse of world communism and the rise of free-market economies worldwide—triumphs of American conservatism in the age of Ronald Reagan, as they saw it. For Regnery, there was little to celebrate: He feared that the wave of nonwhite immigration that was swamping America would surely doom white people to minority status and impotence.” [Mother Jones, 07/21/17]
Beginning In The 1990s, Regnery Became Increasingly Involved In White Nationalism
Regenery, Who Ran For Office In 1994, Dated His Alienation From The Republican Party To A 1993 Meeting Of Conservatives Where He “Feared That The Wave Of Nonwhite Immigration That Was Swamping America Would Surely Doom White People To Minority Status And Impotence.” “In his memoir, Regnery dated his alienation to a 1993 meeting of the conservative Philadelphia Society. Speakers were celebrating the collapse of world communism and the rise of free-market economies worldwide—triumphs of American conservatism in the age of Ronald Reagan, as they saw it. For Regnery, there was little to celebrate: He feared that the wave of nonwhite immigration that was swamping America would surely doom white people to minority status and impotence. [Mother Jones, 07/21/17]
In 2001, Regnery Founded The Charles Martel Society, A White Nationalist Organization That Publishes The Occidental Quarterly. “Founded in 2001 by Chicago millionaire publishing scion William H. Regnery, the Charles Martel Society publishes The Occidental Quarterly (TOQ), a racist journal devoted to the idea that as whites become a minority “the civilization and free governments that whites have created” will be jeopardized.” [Southern Poverty Law Center: Occidental Quarterly, accessed 08/23/22]
In 2005, Regnery Spent $380,000 To Create The National Policy Institute, A Think Tank Designed To Inject White-Supremacist Ideas Into Mainstream Politics. [The New York Times, LexisNexis, 07/16/21]
- The American Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Succeeded Regnery As President Of The National Policy Institute In 2011. At The Time, Regnery Still Served As The Organization’s Director.
[National Policy Institute 990 Form, FY2012, accessed 08/23/22]
When Regnery Died In July 2021, The New York Times Noted His Role In Giving Rise To The Alt-Right. “William H. Regnery II, a reclusive heir to a Midwestern textile fortune who bankrolled some of the leading organizations and figures behind the rise of the alt-right and championed efforts to win adherents to a modernized notion of white supremacy, died on July 2 at his home in Boca Grande, Fla. He was 80.” [The New York Times, LexisNexis, 07/16/21]