Calvert Institute for Policy Research
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
The Calvert Institute for Policy Research (CIPR) calls itself "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." It was co-founded in 1996 by Ronald W. Dworkin of the Hudson Institute. CIPR is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of conservative state-based think-tanks. As of December 2013, CIPR has not filed an IRS Form 990 since 2006.
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.
In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"
A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The Calvert Institute for Policy Research has hosted writers from the ALEC-connected Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which screens potential reporters on their “free market” views as part of the job application process. The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states. Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias. On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."
Franklin Center Funding
Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center's funding "is 100 percent anonymous." But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large "donor-advised fund," cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin's Internal Revenue Service records). Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article. Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.
The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM), a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network, which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation. SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.
The Calvert Institute has several so-called "Calvert Experts," who are members of other right-wing organizations such as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. As of December 2012, they include:
- Todd J. Zywicki (Assistant Professor - School of Law, George Mason University)
- Charmaine Crouse Yoest (Bradley Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Department of Government, University of Virginia)
- Dr. Ying Wu Assistant Professor, Department of Economics & Finance Salisbury State University, Perdue School of Business
- M. Craig Wolf (Counsel, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate)
- Dr. Walter E. Williams (Chairman, Department of Economics, George Mason University)
- Dr. Stephen J.K. Walters (Professor, Department of Economics, Loyola College)
- C. Stephen Wallis (Administrator, Washington/Baltimore Area High School)
- Gregg VanHelmond (Budget Research Assistant, Institute for Economic Policy Studies - Heritage Foundation)
- Dr. Peter M. VanDoren (Editor, Regulation Magazine - Cato Institute)
- Dr. Ronald D. Utt (Research Fellow - Domestic Policy, Heritage Foundation)
- Total Revenue: $0
- Total Expenses: $0
- Net Assets: $0
- Total Revenue: $11,306
- Total Expenses: $11,907
- Net Assets: $2,450
- Total Revenue: $9,317
- Total Expenses: $9,774
- Net Assets: $3,055
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Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Cato Institute
- State Policy Network:
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Donors Capital Fund
- Koch Family Foundations
- Koch Industries
- Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
- Heritage Foundation
- Think tanks
- Whitney Ball
- Adam Meyerson
- Bridgett Wagner
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