Interstate Policy Alliance

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Interstate Policy Alliance is a front group operated by Berman & Co., the PR firm of Rick Berman, whom 60 Minutes has called "Dr. Evil." Berman & Co. operates a network of dozens of front groups, attack-dog web sites, and alleged think tanks that work to counteract minimum wage campaigns, keep wages low for restaurant workers, and block legislation on food safety, secondhand cigarette smoke, drunk driving, and more.

Interstate Policy Alliance describes itself as "a foundation-supported partnership between free-market oriented think tanks on the state and national level," according to its website.[1]

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Interstate Policy Alliance is "a project of the Employment Policies Institute that coordinates with free market think tanks on the state and national level in order to oppose regulations on businesses."[2] The Employment Policies Institute is another Berman front group that helps to lead a national campaign against the minimum wage, including TV ads, print ads, op-eds in state newspapers, and more.[3]

Assisting a National Union-Busting Celebration

The Center for Media and Democracy's 2017 exposé on the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation included information about how the Interstate Policy Alliance is used as a front group to help "encourage union members to dump their unions."

From the CMD series:[4]

"In 2016, Bradley recommended a small grant, $25,000, to support the anti-union 'National Employee Freedom Week,' a concept cooked up by the Nevada Policy Research Institute to encourage union members to dump their unions. This would be the Bradley Foundation's first grant to NPRI, explains the grant proposal record (Nevada Policy Research Institute, Grant Proposal Record, 2/23/16).
"In 2014, the files show the Nevada Policy Research Institute wrote a letter of support on behalf of the Interstate Policy Alliance at the anti-union PR firm, Berman and Company. The Nevada group wrote that it 'partnered' with the Interstate Policy Alliance for national and state-specific research that individual state think tanks could use to promote 'National Employee Freedom Week' to convince union members to leave their union.
"'The polls provided by IPA helped us to create a collation of 65 groups in 37 states in 2013 and 81 groups in 45 states this year' to work on the project (EPI, Grant Proposal Record, 11/1/2014)."
Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Creating and Disseminating Cookie-Cutter Reports

CMD's 2017 exposé on the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation also included information about how the Interstate Policy Alliance is used as a front group to create "cookie-cutter reports for member groups" for other Bradley-funded groups, so that they would appear more credible.

From the CMD series:[5]

"The documents reveal that Bradley is funding a new Berman project called the 'Interstate Policy Alliance' to target its strategic infrastructure investments, as a 'discrete channel' for cookie-cutter reports for member groups to publish to 'maximize credibility,' and to train Bradley-funded groups in 'crisis communication' and opposition research. Bradley cites the case of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which was 'caught flatfooted,' the documents say, after the Center for Media and Democracy published ALEC's secret library of 'model bills' -- voted on behind closed doors with corporate lobbyists -- and launched ALECexposed.org in 2011."

Dissemination of Studies

Another part of CMD's exposé on the Bradley Foundation discussed the dissemination of these "cookie-cutter reports" created by IPA. From the series:[4]

"Berman's Employment Policies Institute (EPI) was named to confuse the public with an actual think tank, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which employs a host of PhD-level economists and other support staff. Berman's EPI has no economists on staff, but does employ 'Research Director' Michael Saltsman, who has no advanced degree. MSNBC's Chris Hayes pinned Saltsman down on that point in a remarkable interview.
"In 2013, Bradley earmarked $300,000 for a new Berman project within EPI called the Interstate Policy Alliance (IPA). In 2014, the grant for the same work doubled to $600,000 and included 'crisis communication' for Bradley-funded groups on the receiving end of bad publicity, and in 2015, Bradley provided $400,000. Click here for a full list of Berman IPA groups.
"Bradley documents describe IPA as a 'discrete channel' for 'studies' that could be utilized by state-based groups 'to achieve maximum credibility in local and social media outlets.'
"'Created at Bradley's behest in 2012 and with continuing Bradley support since then, IPA is a discreet channel for the better coordination and presentation of helpful, high-quality research on existing and proposed state-level, free-market policies around the country. It provides this research, too often out of reach for many small state think tanks, and customizes it for each state to achieve maximum credibility in local- and social-media outlets. The Searle Freedom Trust has joined Bradley in support of the project' (Barder Fund, August 18, 2015).
"State think tanks participating in Berman's IPA, which include Wisconsin's Bradley-supported MacIver Institute, do not have to pay for the research or its packaging or dissemination. They are able to easily access data that has been uploaded to a password-protected website. As needed, Berman's IPA also helps with report writing, graphic design, news release preparation, op-ed placement and the scheduling of interviews (EPI, Grant Proposal Record, 11/10/2015).
"In 2015, the Center for Media and Democracy and the Energy and Policy Institute revealed how IPA operated, when it reported that the Beacon Hill Institute was releasing misleading studies attacking President Obama's Clean Power Plan, an ambitious multi-year effort to cut carbon pollution and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. The funding for the study came through the previously unknown group called the Interstate Policy Alliance.
"In many of its sponsored research 'studies,' IPA promotes fossil fuel development over renewables. This has been a long-term agenda item of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate funded bill mill, and many State Policy Network 'think tanks' and advocacy groups funded by Bradley. In addition, the Bradley documents examined by CMD show Bradley is funding numerous climate denial groups, including Myron Ebell's Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute.
  • One IPA report touts the tens of billions of revenue North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia might gain from offshore oil and gas development in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Another report argues that fossil fuel development of federal lands in seven Rocky Mountain states will grow the economies at a faster pace than renewables.
  • Another promotes the transfer of federal lands to states, claiming that revenues from taxes and fees will rapidly flow to states.
  • And yet another study criticizes the Renewable Portfolio Standards in 29 states and D.C. as costly to consumers, while ignoring any benefits to jobs or the environment."

Contact

Employment Policies Institute
1090 Vermont Ave NW Suite 800
Washington, D.C., 20005

Phone: 202.420.7860
Website: PolicyAlliance.org

Resources and Articles

Related SourceWatch Articles

Other Berman Front Groups

References

  1. International Policy Alliance, Interstate Policy Alliance About Us page, PolicyAlliance.org, accessed June 9, 2014.
  2. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Berman Exposed, BermanExposed.org, accessed June 9, 2014.
  3. Eric Lipton, "Fight Over Minimum Wage Illustrates Web of Industry Ties," New York Times, February 9, 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mary Bottari, Bradley Foundation Bankrolls Attacks on Unions, Exposed by CMD, May 8, 2017
  5. Mary Bottari, Weaponized Philanthropy: Document Trove Details Bradley Foundation's Efforts to Build Right-Wing "Infrastructure" Nationwide, Exposed by CMD, May 5, 2017.