St. George • Embattled anti-child trafficking advocate Tim Ballard is not and has never been a partner in a St. George nonprofit that sought to raise $50 million to build a colonial-era village in Washington County.
That’s the message United We Pledge officials, who are leading the effort to build Liberty Village on 40 acres in Hurricane, want to convey about Ballard, the founder and former head of Operation Underground Rescue.
Liberty Village, scheduled for completion shortly before America’s 250th birthday on July 4, 2026, will include replicas of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and other buildings that played a prominent role in America’s founding. There will also be volunteer costumed actors and interpreters portraying the country’s founding fathers.
Shortly after conservative media star Glenn Beck and other dignitaries broke ground on the village in July 2022, Dennis Leavitt, president of United We Pledge, told The Salt Lake Tribune that Ballard was helping to develop its history curriculum to coincide with the should be shared with supporters.
Leavitt said Ballard, an amateur history buff, was also working with the organization and folk artist and puzzle maker Eric Dowdle to publish a “Bible of American History” that would consist of 250 stories detailing God’s miraculous intervention in the Creating and Sustaining America.
“United We Pledge seeks to honor facts in American history that demonstrate the blessing, support and divine providence of a Supreme Being in the founding of this nation,” the nonprofit organization says on its website. “United We Pledge is actively participating in the creation of the Bible of American History project, led by Eric Dowdle and Tim Ballard, to reveal the presence of God at the founding of our nation.”
According to United We Pledge, Ballard’s job was to compile the stories for the book, while Dowdle illustrated and calligraphed the text. A copy of the book was to be presented to the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which Congress created to inspire Americans to participate in the country’s 250th birthday celebrations. It has been proposed that another copy be housed in the replica of Mount Vernon in Liberty Village.
Additionally, Ballard was a keynote speaker at United We Pledge’s inaugural “A Patriotic Tribute to America,” an Independence Day celebration the nonprofit organization hosted in St. George on July 3, 2021, where he informed listeners of the role of Faith in America informed Creation and spoke about his and OUR efforts to save women and children who were victims of sex trafficking.
More than a year later, a lot has changed. Once considered a rising star and possible successor to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Ballard’s public image has taken a major hit as revelations that have tarnished his character have surfaced in recent weeks.
This week, seven women filed a lawsuit against Ballard, accusing him of exploiting their desire to help sex trafficking victims and attacking them. This follows a rare public rebuke from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which accused him of exploiting his friendship with M. Russell Ballard (no relation), acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, by misusing the name of a high-ranking church leader to advance his business interests.
In addition, the church has removed Ballard’s books from its online catalog, Deseret Book, as well as from stores and other church-owned bookstores. Some historians also weighed in, calling Ballard’s works, which link the Founding Fathers to key Latter-day Saint figures, writings and teachings, hagiography rather than history.
Ballard has denied the allegations.
Relationship greatly exaggerated
Leavitt said his organization currently has no business or relationship with Ballard. This is not a question of the nonprofit’s distancing itself from Ballard, he added, but a reflection of the fact that the organization and the author and anti-sex trafficking campaigner were never closely linked to begin with.
When he spoke about Ballard’s role in developing the curriculum more than a year ago, Leavitt attributed his statement to a question of “semantics.” Ballard, he continued, had no role in creating the curriculum for the free history lessons on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that the nonprofit shares with supporters as part of its United We Pledge Academy.
Leavitt said Ballard was involved, albeit tangentially, with United We Pledge and Dowdle in compiling and drafting stories for the “Bible of American History,” but said the project and Ballard’s involvement were primarily Dowdle’s idea had been. Furthermore, he added, United We Pledge never had a contract with Ballard, no money changed hands and the project never came to fruition.
“We had an extremely limited, almost non-existent relationship with Tim Ballard…,” he said. “At one point we thought about participating and supporting The Bible of American History, but it’s a project that never came to fruition.”
Ballard declined to comment. Dowdle could not be reached for his response.
Washington County is declared “America’s County.”
United We Pledge enjoys strong support from Washington County commissioners, who recently declared Washington County “America’s County” and are donating nearly $1 million to build a replica of the famous Boston Green Dragon Tavern, a gathering place for Paul Revere , finance. John Hancock and others during the Revolutionary War.
“Anytime we can use our platform to educate people about the founding of America … we always will,” said Washington County Commissioner Adam Snow. “All of us [on the commission] works with United We Pledge and Liberty Village, so we are very excited about the project.”
Leavitt said the purpose of Liberty Village, which will be modeled after the Colonial-style American village in Montevallo, Alabama, is to unite Americans and inspire greater reverence for the Constitution and fidelity to core constitutional values such as freedom, family and faith .
Work is already underway on the first phase of the project, which includes the completion of a master plan and the installation of a water fountain. The second phase, which includes the construction of several replicas of historic residential and commercial buildings, is expected to be completed in July 2024. Construction of replicas of Independence Hall, Mount Vernon and other large historically significant buildings is part of the third phase and is scheduled to be completed by July 2024. The fourth and final phase, expected to begin the same month, will include monuments, museums and others Add amenities to the village.