LCRW is 100% reader-funded!Support LCRW
Sharon McKeeman, leader of booming anti-mask and antivax organizations Let Them Breathe and Let Them Choose, has created at least seven new fundraisers in recent months, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars with the help of Bay Area tech giant GoFundMe and Getty fortune heiress Anna Getty.
In September 2021, LCRW reported on McKeeman’s first and largest organization, Let Them Breathe, and their rallies disrupting school board meetings all over California with far-right extremists. Since the September article, McKeeman created numerous GoFundMe pages, including Let Them Choose, under her name. All the fundraisers (except one for her father’s funeral) contain a similar message–opposing vaccination mandates and support for lawsuits against them–with goals of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
GoFundMe has recently come under fire for allowing an antivaxx trucker convoy in Canada to raise over $9 million on their platform. The convoy’s planned protest in Ottowa turned violent and racist, with attendees assaulting a security guard at a soup kitchen and screaming racial slurs.
The most recent fundraiser, “Champion Choice in Beverly Hills Unified,” was created on Jan. 27. Two fundraisers McKeeman created, “End Mirman School Student V Mandate” and “End Willows School Student V Mandate,” each raised $10,000 but have since been deleted. It’s unclear why they were removed from the platform.
LCRW quoted the total number of donations on the Let Them Breathe GoFundMe at $126,000 in the September article
In December 2021, a California judge ruled in favor of Let them Choose and Let them Breathe against the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), which delayed the vaccine mandate for SDUSD students from going into effect. The San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer who handled the case said that the district’s mandate contradicts state law because implementing such mandates that do not permit religious or personal belief exemptions can only be imposed by the state legislature. Judge Meyer acknowledged in his ruling that the vaccine mandate “appears to be necessary and rational, and the district’s desire to protect its students from COVID-19 is commendable.”
On several of her fundraisers, McKeeman crowed, “Let Them Choose won in court against San Diego Unified School District’s student V[accine] mandate, striking down that mandate as unlawful and ensuring that SDUSD all students can remain in in-person education.” McKeeman failed to mention the district is appealing and her victory may be short-lived.
Due to the ruling against SDUSD, Sweetwater Union High School District, a district headquartered in Chula Vista, California, delayed plans for a student vaccine mandate earlier this year. On Jan. 19, eight days after the district announced it would not implement the mandate, McKeeman created the “End Sweetwater Unified Teacher V Mandate” GoFundMe.
The “End Granada Student V Mandate” GoFundMe was created December 21, 2021, after the Granada Hills Charter School vaccine mandate was implemented in November of last year. Protests at Granada Hills Charter School received some media attention after staff members were fired for refusing to comply with the mandate.
A vaccine mandate went into effect at New West Charter School in the Sawtelle neighborhood of Los Angeles on Jan. 17. Let them Choose sued the school on behalf of six anonymous students who showed up at the school and claimed they were denied entry. The “End New West Charter School V Mandate” GoFundMe is now less than $1,500 away from its $30,000 goal.
Anna Getty, one of the heirs to the Getty oil fortune, is the top donor of several McKeeman’s GoFundMe pages. On Jan. 18, Getty donated to seven of McKeeman’s pages, three of which were created the same day as her donation. She donated $10,000 each to two fundraisers created on Jan. 18, “End Mirman School Student V Mandate” and “End Willows School Student V Mandate.” Both of those have since been deleted. Getty donated $1,500 to the “End Sweetwater Unified Teacher V Mandate,” another fundraiser created Jan. 18, and she donated to four older GoFundMe pages: $10,000 to Let Them Choose, making #1 on the top donations list, $9,000 to “Lawsuit to End New West Charter V* Mandate,” $7,300 to “End Sinai Akiba Student V Mandate,” and $3,000 to “Travel Expenses for Sharon’s Dad’s Funeral.” As of today, the total amount of donations from Getty to McKeeman’s GoFundMe pages, including the two deleted fundraisers, amounts to $50,800.
Getty resides in Ojai, California, where the director of the COVID-19 conspiracy theory film “Plandemic,” Mikki Willis, also lives. Ojai is known for its popular wellness retreats, day spas and high cost of living. The New York Times called Ojai the “Valley of Wellness” in an article from March 2020. The city is also known for speaking out against vaccine mandates and in October 2021, the Ojai Unified School District gained wide attention when anti-mask graffiti was found on school office buildings and a preschool. Getty has been in the press over the years for her organic living and self-care aesthetic, and in 2021, she started a cooking website and Instagram page called Amalgam Kitchen.
It is unclear if Anna Getty is involved with any of the Getty institutions; her name does not appear on any list of committee members or trustees. The Getty website, which holds information on all institutions–Getty Foundation, Getty Center, and Getty Villa, based in Los Angeles, California–has a page dedicated to COVID-19 safety measures, indicating, “We are following LA County Department of Public Health orders and LA City mandates as they are updated.”