State Policy Network (SPN) is a web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country. It is an $83 million right-wing empire as of the 2011 funding documents from SPN itself and each of its state “think tank” members. Although SPN’s member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy’s in-depth investigation, “EXPOSED: The State Policy Network — The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government,” reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.”(Sourcewatch.com)
From their website: “The Institute is a nonprofit research and educational organization committed to advancing public policy based on free markets, individual liberty, and limited, transparent government.”
They are directly related to the American Legislative Exchange Council and The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.
From their website: ”
“Alabama Policy Institute (API) is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.
“Established in September 1989, API bases its pursuits on the founding fathers’ ideas of liberty and the equality of all people. These are the same ideas on which two of the greatest documents ever conceived by the mind of man are based-the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. The founding fathers knew that we are a nation of men and women created equal in the sight of God, and that our Creator endows every one of us with unalienable rights – rights for which we must take responsibility and be willing to defend.”
From their website: “We believe that individual freedom and private property are inextricably linked.
- We believe that government should be limited, transparent and accountable.
- We believe in responsible, sustainable development.
- We believe that free markets offer better solutions than government planning.”
The Arkansas Policy Foundation is a right-wing pressure group based in Little Rock.
From their website: “The Foundation emphasizes the importance of tax policy and education reform.
“Principles of tax policy: Arkansas would benefit from comprehensive, pro-growth reform; Arkansans are not under-taxed; taxes and rates do matter to entrepreneurs; dynamic scoring of tax changes and effects provides benefits.
“Education reform: The Foundation seeks intellectual honesty and complete openness in reporting the lack of academic progress in Arkansas’ school system.”
Formerly the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the Beacon Center is now a right-wing think tank based in Nashville. They claim to receive private donations, however, two sources have come to light – the Cato Institute and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.
“TCPR formerly operated a website called “Carnival of Climate Change” that described itself as “a skeptical look at climate change alarmism” and was largely an aggregation of online content from climate-change deniers and skeptics. In 2009, the website, which Drew Johnson described as a “side project” of TCPR, led Mother Jones magazine to name TCPR to a list of “The Dirty Dozen of Climate Change Denial.” (Wikipedia.com)
According to Sourcewatch.com:
“Using its website, BIPPS promotes the founding ideas of liberty, free markets, limited government and secure property rights as the basis for the future of public policy in Kentucky.
In many cases the credentials or experiential background of BIPPS content contributors is unknown; and some policy documents have been created by individuals with no direct experience in the field they are critiquing. The site promotes business oriented, anti-labor positions; politically the Institute claims neutrality but the content contributors overwhelming express Republican or Libertarian political interests and issues.”
The organization’s stated mission is to promote individual liberty, economic freedom, personal responsibility and limited government in Ohio. It is a conservative public policy think-tank based in Columbus, Ohio.
The institute’s Center for Education Excellence produces reports and research that promote a market-based approach to education, including vouchers and charter schools, and a resolution to the state’s years-old education funding debate. (Wikipedia.com)
Caesar Rodney Institute is a pressure group located in Delaware. According to their website, their mission is “to influence public policy in Delaware by helping every Delawarean understand and put into practice the fundamentals of a free society: individual initiative, personal responsibility, private property, voluntary agreements, informed choice, the rule of law, and strong local communities.”
According to the Bridge Project, which focuses on transparency in conservative financing:
“CRI is not required to disclose its donors to the public, and does not do so voluntarily. The two known CRI donors, though, are both secretive right-wing organizations based in Virginia. In just the two years of 2009 and 2010, CRI received $352,500 from the Koch-funded Donors Capital Fund – representing 61% of CRI’s total funding in those two years. Donors Capital Fund, known as the “dark money ATM of the conservative movement,” keeps its own funders anonymous, therefore adding another layer of secrecy. The only other known CRI funder is the State Policy Network (also a Koch-funded non-profit), which funneled $66,000 to the institute between 2008 and 2010.”
As would be expected, their agenda is said to be:
Defund and privatize Delaware’s public schools with vouchers and charter schools
Oppose prevailing and minimum wage laws
The Calvert Institute for Policy Research, located in Maryland, claims to be “an independent, non-partisan public policy research institution committed to generating new ideas based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government and personal responsibility.”
Demonstrating the movement that has been taking place over the last three decades, and the implementing of their agenda, this was taken from their website: “The growth of state-based, public-policy institutions (PPIs) over the past few years has been great. From a handful of early organizations, an aggressive movement has grown. Active state PPIs have been established in over 30 states. Until now, Maryland has not been one of them.
“These PPIs have become important vehicles for providing reasoned analysis of state public policy. They enable individuals to coalesce around a core set of informed beliefs. More than that, they provide ideas that are specific to the circumstances of the state. How often have state activists received some public-policy document published by a Beltway advocacy group in Washington and found it to be less than relevant to their policy circumstances? A state “think-tank” with a primary audience narrower than that of the national groups can focus on problems particular to Maryland.”
Cascade Policy Institute is a right-wing think tank in Portland, Oregon. Their stated mission is, “to develop and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity.”
From Sourcewatch.com: “At least one Cascade Policy Institute critic points out that the particular formulations of “individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity” promoted by the institute are similar or identical to agendas commonly favored among large business interests and wealthy individuals. Also noted is the apparent irony of how notions like “free markets and limited government,” as promoted by organizations like Cascade Policy Institute, often translate into support for “billions in pork-ridden expenditure, insurance mandates, heavy-handed central planning initiatives, property seizures…, metastatic bureaucracy at local, state and federal levels and massive expansions in law enforcement.”
Among their numerous issues, Cascade spends a lot of time and energy on the privatization of education.
The Center of the American Experiment is a policy organization that was founded in 1990. Its founder and President is Michael Pearlstein, a former Reagan appointee. Annette Meeks used to serve as its CEO. It has received grants from the Bradley Foundation and the John M. Olin Foundation.
Members include Linda Chavez, Steven F. Hayward, John H. Hinderaker, Mark Kennedy, Heather Mac Donald, Michael Novak, Marvin Olasky, Allen I. Olson, Tim Penny, Christina Hoff Sommers, Ken Starr, Shelby Steele, and Abigail Thernstrom.] Katherine Kersten is a Senior Fellow. Guests have also included Charles Krauthammer.
Certain unidentified “public documents” tied the Center of the American Experiment to funding the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative organization for which the Center has “a great deal of respect” (e.g., the Center finds ALEC’s “model legislation to be of the highest quality”). The Center has also campaigned for school vouchers. They also expressed concern about the raunchiness of television for children. They are opposed to affirmative action, especially in academia. They have been credited for playing a major role in empowering conservatives in Minnesota.
From their website: “Our efforts address both the big policy issues of the day and the tougher, more personal issues impacting the heart and soul of our culture. Center of the American Experiment’s aim is nothing less than shifting Minnesota’s intellectual and political center of gravity to the right by focusing on time-tested principles of free enterprise, limited government, ordered liberty, and traditional American values.”
According to their website: ” The Institute’s mission is to explore and advance public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. Institute staff will pursue this mission by conducting timely research on important issues and then marketing the findings to elected leaders, the media, business leaders, community organizations, and individual citizens.”
From their website:
“The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, commonly known as the Commonwealth Foundation or CF, is Pennsylvania’s free-market think tank.
“Our mission is simple: CF crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.
“We do this because of the vision CF has for our state, which is of a “state of freedom” in which all Pennsylvanians enjoy an abundance of opportunities to provide for themselves, their families, and their neighbors.”
The Empire Center is a conservative think-tank and pressure group for the State of New York. It is a project of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
According to Kurt Nimmo in a 2002 article featured in CounterPunch: “The Manhattan Institute concerns itself with such things as ‘welfare reform’ (dismantling social programs), ‘faith-based initiatives’ (blurring the distinction between church and state), and ‘education reform’ (destroying public education).”
The Ethan Allen Institute is a think-tank in Vermont. Their mission is, “to influence public policy in Vermont by helping its people to better understand and put into practice the fundamentals of a free society: individual liberty, private property, competitive free enterprise, limited government, strong local communities, personal responsibility, and expanded opportunity for human endeavor.”
They are heavily funded by the Cato Institute.
According to a 2013, report by Progress Florida and the Center for Media and Democracy: “FGA frequently brags about its influence in state politics and clearly has well-established ties with state legislators. In 2012, for example, FGA bragged that it had ‘engaged early on’ House and Senate sponsors of HB 1003, a proposal to create a new exemption from tangible personal property (TPP) taxes for businesses with less than $50,000 in business equipment, to successfully influence the legislation. According to FGA’s own post on its website, the organization had ‘regular discussions and meetings’ with the sponsors of the bill and the Governor’s office. However, FGA did not have a registered lobbyist in Florida in 2012. While a 501(c)(3) non-profit can engage in a limited amount of lobbying, it appears that FGA’s outreach to Florida legislators about changing Florida’s laws is not so limited. However, its federal tax filings for 2012 have not yet been made publicly available.”
A report submitted by the FGA was a contributing factor in Florida Governor Rick Scott’s defense of the controversial welfare drug-testing law.
From their website: “The Foundation for Government Accountability promotes better lives for individuals and families by equipping policymakers with principled strategies to replace failed health and welfare programs nationwide. Our core principles include transparency, private enterprise, individual liberty and limited, constitutional government. As an organization, we demand integrity, honesty, perseverance and personal accountability.”
They have very close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Freedom Foundation (formerly Evergreen Freedom Foundation) Phone: (360) 956-3482 x23 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://myfreedomfoundation.com/
The Freedom Foundation was formerly the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, and is a Libertarian think-think located in Olympia Washington.
According to Sourcewatch.com:
“The Evergreen Freedom Foundation was founded in 1991 as a private, non-profit public policy think tank in Washington State. Its efforts center around public policy research and alternatives in these core areas: state budget and tax policy, education, labor policy, property rights, legal policy, and citizenship and governance. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation is, according to the Seattle Times, a libertarian think tank, based in Olympia, Washington, founded by Bob Williams, a former state legislator and gubernatorial candidate.
“During Dino Rossi’s failed attempt to gain the Washington State governorship through a court challenge to the recount process, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation provided strong ideological support. It pushed a “Voter Integrity Project,” which focused on requiring voter ID to prevent voter fraud, and started a “Grassroots Washington” group.”
Some of their funding has come from the following groups:
- The Walton Family Foundation
- The Indianapolis-based Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, founded by leading national voucher advocate Milton Friedman
- The Sarah Scaife Foundation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, controlled by national conservative figure Richard M. Scaife
- The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a leading financial supporter of the Milwaukee voucher program and controversial contributor to far-right causes
- The Roe Foundation, founded by the late Thomas A. Roe, a prominent Heritage Foundation supporter and co-founder of the State Policy Network
- Foundation for Partnerships Trust, funded and run by William Edgerly, CEO emeritus of State Street Bank and Trust of Boston
- The Gilder Foundation, run by New York stockbroker Richard Gilder (the foundation supports conservative think tanks and voucher groups)
- Jacquelin Hume Foundation of San Francisco, run by survivors of longtime California Reagan advisor Jacquelin Hume, including William Hume
They call themselves an “educational and research organization. Annette Meeks, former Deputy Chief of Staff for House Speaker Newt Gingrich, founded FFM in 2006 and currently serves as CEO.
Last year the FFM issued a report against increasing the minimum wage claiming that it would destroy Minnesota’s business climate.
Founded in 1990, the GCO was formerly the Georgia Family Education and Research Council. It underwent a name change in 2013.
On their website they as list their “Principles:”
Independence – Working across the political spectrum in a non-partisan, independent manner allows for fresh thinking, common vision and new forms of collaboration.
Evidence – Sound solutions require high-quality, empirical research that is objective and transparent. We base recommendations on the best available academic research, as well as the grassroots experience of those in business, non-profits, government and the general public.
Collaboration – Collaborating with vision-driven, effective organizations that share common goals is essential to building innovative solutions that produce results. We leverage best practices and share resources with partner organizations that consistently and effectively deliver change.
Responsibility – We build our solutions with the belief that individuals and communities have the primary responsibility for improving their lives and the lives of their neighbors. Thriving communities are built by rewarding virtues that lead to liberty, self-sufficiency, and earned success.
Civil Society – The institutions of civil society—families, faith communities, civic organizations, charitable non-profits, businesses and local government—are best placed to address social problems. We utilize these valuable resources when developing and delivering solutions.
Stronger Families – Families are where future generations are raised to maturity and taught how to love, trust and live responsibly in community with others. Social solutions must be aimed at increasing the percentage of children born to married parents, stabilizing the family structure, and developing children who are prepared to create a strong family of their own.
Opportunity – The primary engines of opportunity—stable families, good schools and steady employment—have experienced a rapid decline. Our solutions focus on reversing this trend so that all children have a chance to succeed regardless of social or economic background.
Based in Atlanta, the Foundation’s mission is “”to be the most respected and influential source of public policy research, analysis and education in Georgia.”
From their website: “good public policy is based upon fact, an understanding of sound economic principles and the core principles of our free enterprise system – economic freedom, limited government, personal responsibility, individual initiative, respect for private property and the rule of law.”
From Wikipedia.com: “The stated purpose of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is to improve the relationship between the government and the people with the objective of improving the effectiveness of the government, the business climate, and in some cases, tradition, to foster an atmosphere in Hawaii that results in maximum personal freedom for every individual.The mission of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is to promote individual liberty, the free market, and limited, accountable government. Through research papers, policy briefings, commentaries and conferences, the Institute seeks to educate and inform Hawaii’s policymakers, news media and the general public.”
Located in South Dakota, the GPPPI’s mission “is to formulate and promote free enterprise solutions to public policy problems based on the principles of individual responsibility, limited government, privatization and traditional American values.“
They partner closely with the Heritage Foundation and are strong advocates for school choice in South Dakota. They list their “areas of interests” as follows:
South Dakota’s economic future, particularly the vitality and diversity of its competitive free-enterprise sector.
- State and local regulatory and fiscal practices, taxation and spending.
- The improvement of education for all South Dakota children.
- The preservation of free, accountable, democratic government where public decisions are made at the level as close as possible to the people themselves.
And, they claim to be organized around these organizations:
around the following centers:
- Center of Enterprise & Opportunity (CEO): To make recommendations for eliminating governmental, regulatory and political barriers to entrepreneurial initiative and free trade.
- Center for Environmental & Regulatory Reform (CERR): To promote the approach to environmental issues that emphasizes markets, property rights and individual incentives as a strategy for safeguarding the environment.
- Center for Education Reform (CEF): To explore and promote education reform strategies.
The IFF is located in Boise, Idaho and calls itself a “free-market research organization.” They have come under fire recently for violating their tax-exempt status through their lobbying activities.
According to a Sourcewatch.com entry: ”
“The IFF has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) through its Executive Director, Wayne Hoffman. In an article on the foundation’s website entitled, “ALEC Helps Promote Good Public Policy,” Hoffman states, “ALEC has been an invaluable resource and friend to me and the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Few people know how often I have asked ALEC’s staff for help battling big-government ideas, including the federal health care takeover and the imposition of confiscatory tax polices. And it has always responded. . . . I’m grateful for ALEC, and you should be, too.”.
“Furthermore, according to the groups’ publication the Idaho Reporter, the IFF sponsored a trip to Boise for John Graham of the Pacific Research Institute and Christie Herrera, director of the ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force, to meet with Idaho lawmakers to discuss health care policy.”
SPN Associate Members