The launch of Sound of Freedom ought to’ve been a victory lap for Tim Ballard, founder and former CEO of the anti-trafficking group Operation Underground Railroad. A fictionalized model of Ballard, performed by actor Jim Caviezel, is the protagonist of the movie, which depicts him as a crusading avenger for kidnapped youngsters. The film — made on a small funds however a runaway hit with conservative audiences this summer season — additionally doubled as a public relations coup for OUR, whose supposed real-life trafficking rescue expeditions are highlighted in an epilogue.
But shortly after Sound of Freedom‘s July 4 premiere, it emerged that Ballard had weeks in the past quietly resigned from the group. According to sources cited by Vice, inner strife at OUR was responsible, with Ballard leaving the group following multiple employee complaints in opposition to him, although the character of these allegations stays unclear.
On Thursday, OUR hosted a Zoom press discussion board, which was streamed stay on Facebook, to “focus on the present state of trafficking and the way OUR is combating it,” that includes a panel of its employees. Framed as an replace within the wake of Sound of Freedom‘s success, the group additionally marketed the occasion as a “Q&A Hot Seat” and a “distinctive alternative to have your most controversial questions answered.” Inevitably, queries within the stay chat turned to the subject of Ballard’s departure.
Conference host Matt Osborne — president of OUR — appeared keen to go off any dialogue of Ballard in his opening remarks. “Many individuals affiliate Tim Ballard because the face of our group,” he stated, mentioning that Ballard “stepped away” two and a half months in the past. “We are without end grateful, and at all times shall be grateful, for our inception, our founding and our group. But what we’re much more excited to do is showcase the long run,” he continued, introducing different audio system.
Of course, it’s hardly uncommon for a corporation or nonprofit to withhold the circumstances of an govt’s resignation, or that remaining management would attempt to transfer previous lingering considerations about such a shakeup. Still, a number of attendees requested for additional clarification on why Ballard had parted methods with OUR. Osborne once more acknowledged the elephant within the room with out providing additional particulars. “So we’ve gotten a quantity of questions coming in now over the previous jiffy, basically with this similar theme, so we’ll I’ll simply handle it now,” he stated. “Essentially it’s, ‘Can Matt touch upon Tim Ballard’s exit from OUR?’ Look, I’ll simply say clearly and brazenly, we’re centered on the long run. We’re not centered on the previous. We will at all times be thankful for the founding of Operation Underground Railroad.”
“We want [Ballard] nicely, however we’re centered on the long run,” Osborne repeated.
Several viewers continued to press Osborne to elucidate additional. In the feedback for the Facebook stay stream, one attendee vented his frustration: “I’m fairly disenchanted within the promotion of this occasion to listen to our most controversial questions and get them answered in actual time… then there’s an absolute refusal to speak about Tim Ballard’s cause for exiting the group.” Others, nonetheless, dismissed the subject as unimportant. “We don’t want to speak about Tim Ballard,” one particular person wrote on Facebook. “We want to speak about find out how to cease human trafficking. Stay centered individuals.”
Since leaving OUR, Ballard has additionally confirmed that he’s no longer employed because the CEO of the Nazarene Fund, one other anti-trafficking group backed by Glenn Beck. Yet one other anti-trafficking group, the SPEAR Fund, previously listed Ballard as a co-founder however now describes him solely as a “senior advisor.” Last month, he started hawking “Freedom”-branded dietary dietary supplements on Instagram.