John Locke Foundation
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Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
The John Locke Foundation (JLF) is a right-wing pressure group based in North Carolina. It describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina." It is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). An August 2013 board document of the related group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) alleges that JLF is a "former SPN member," but the SPN website still lists it as a full member as of December 2013, and a July 2013 JLF fundraising proposal to Searle Freedom Trust was included in a packet of SPN proposals in August 2013.
- 1 News and Controversies
- 2 Connections to Art Pope
- 3 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
- 4 Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
- 5 The John Locke Foundation and global warming
- 6 The John Locke Foundation and renewable energy
- 7 The John Locke Foundation and the tobacco industry
- 8 Funding
- 9 Personnel
- 10 Core Financials
- 11 Contact Details
- 12 Articles and Resources
News and Controversies
JLF Called Out for Blocking Action on Climate Change
In July of 2016, nineteen U.S. Senators delivered a series of speeches denouncing climate change denial from 32 organizations with links to fossil-fuel interests, including the John Locke Foundation. Sen. Whitehouse (RI-D), who led the effort to expose "the web of denial" said in his remarks on the floor that the purpose was to,
- "shine a little light on the web of climate denial and spotlight the bad actors in the web, who are polluting our American discourse with phony climate denial. This web of denial, formed over decades, has been built and provisioned by the deep-pocketed Koch brothers, by ExxonMobil, by Peabody coal, and by other fossil fuel interests. It is a grim shadow over our democracy in that it includes an electioneering effort that spends hundreds of millions of dollars in a single election cycle and threatens any Republican who steps up to address the global threat of climate change. . . . [I]t is long past time we shed some light on the perpetrators of this web of denial and expose their filthy grip on our political process. It is a disgrace, and our grandchildren will look back at this as a dirty time in America’s political history because of their work.”
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
Connections to Art Pope
The John Locke Foundation receives around 80 percent of its funding from Art Pope, who controls the institute's agenda from its board of directors. It received over $2.5 million from the Pope family foundation in fiscal years 2010-2011. From its founding in the early 1990s until 2006, "the organization was not taken seriously," according to one North Carolina political figure, but when Pope gained control of his family's fortune in 2006 he began to invest significantly in the organization as he aimed to gain a voice in North Carolina conservative policy circles.
A New Yorker exposé explains that Pope invests not only in the Foundation, but in state-level political elections and other non-profit institutions designed to make his takeover of the North Carolina GOP complete. Marc Farinella, an adviser to North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, commented that "The Republican agenda in North Carolina is really Art Pope’s agenda. He sets it, he funds it, and he directs the efforts to achieve it. The candidates are just fronting for him. There are so many people in North Carolina beholden to Art Pope—it undermines the democratic process.”
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
The John Locke Foundation has ties to several of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "task forces." Staff members Daren Bakst, Director of Legal and Regulatory Studies, and Fergus Hodgson, Director of Fiscal Policy Studies, sit on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force and the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force, respectively. Mr. Bakst gave a presentation to the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at ALEC's 2010 annual meeting: “The Limits of EPA Regulatory Power."
John Coletti, Director of Health and Fiscal Policy Studies, represents John Locke on the Health and Human Services Task Force. Coletti has sponsored model legislation (the "Patients First Medicaid Reform Act") and has made presentations to the task force.
Director of Regulatory Studies, Jon Sanders, was a member of the now defunct Public Safety and Elections Task Force and Director of Education Studies, Terry Stoops, is a member of the Education Task Force.
An August 2013 ALEC board document obtained by The Guardian lists the John Locke Foundation as having been part of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and the Education Task Force, but as having terminated its membership on May 11, 2013, although it "would like to join again if can fit in budget."
Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The John Locke Foundation was listed as a Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity "Watchdog Bureau". 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 John Locke Foundation and global warming
In July 2007, the John Locke Foundation released a report authored by Joel Schwartz (a climate change skeptic then at the American Enterprise Institute), titled, "A North Carolina Citizen's Guide to Global Warming."  In the report, Schwartz claims that [Al] "Gore's brand of over-the-top climate hysteria has nothing to do with reality"; and that "Most of the greenhouse effect is natural and is due to water vapor naturally in the atmosphere, as well as natural levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and a few other greenhouse gases." 
In a 2010 investigation by the Institute for Southern Studies, the John Locke Foundation was found to be one of the most outspoken climate skeptics in North Carolina, working in concert with other groups funded by the Koch Brothers and Art Pope to creation the illusion of disagreement about the fundamentals of climate science. Examples cited by the Institute include:
- In 2005, shortly after legislation addressing climate change was first introduced at the General Assembly, the foundation released a public policy statement titled "Global Warming Policy: NC Should Do Nothing," which claimed that climate science remains "unsettled."
- That same year, the Locke Foundation distributed to all members of the state legislature the Michael Crichton novel "State of Fear," a work of fiction that promoted the views of Dr. Fred Singer, a prominent climate skeptic. Singer has held positions with the Cato Institute, which was co-founded in 1977 by Charles Koch and funded by the Kochs, and with other Koch-financed groups including the American Council on Science and Health, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, Heritage Foundation, Institute for Humane Studies, and the National Center for Policy Analysis.
- In 2007, as North Carolina began working on ways to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions, it turned for technical assistance to the Center for Climate Strategies, a nonprofit group of scientists, engineers, business strategists and policy experts that has worked with governments in the U.S., Mexico and Canada on tackling climate change issues. In response, the Locke Foundation launched a series of attacks on the Center, charging that it was founded by an "environmental advocacy group known to take alarmist positions on global warming" -- when in fact it was founded by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, a business-friendly group whose directors have included representatives of Reliant Energy, Dow, and the Academy of Natural Sciences. Locke has also teamed up with the Heartland Institute -- a climate-skeptic group that's been financed by the Kochs -- to hold a conference call during which Locke's research director accused the Center of peddling false assumptions like the idea that "carbon dioxide emission reduction is the solution to global warming."
- Also in 2007, the Locke Foundation released a policy report titled "A North Carolina Citizen's Guide to Global Warming," assuring readers that the "alarming view" of global warming does not represent the scientific consensus. It went on to assert that "[m]ost of the greenhouse effect is natural and is due to water vapor naturally in the atmosphere, as well as natural levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and a few other greenhouse gases." The report was written by Joel Schwartz, who at the time was a visiting scholar at the Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute.
- In addition, Locke has questioned mainstream climate science through a series in the Carolina Journal, the foundation's monthly newspaper, and opinion pieces published by its staff in other outlets, like the 2006 American Spectator article in which Locke editor Paul Chesser accused Christian climate activists of "Biblical illiteracy" and warned that "God has some serious global warming of His own planned." It's also spread its message of doubt through speaking engagements by climate science skeptic Pat Michaels, a climatologist who left the University of Virginia under a cloud of controversy over his industry funding and contrarian views to become a fellow at the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute, as well as through its Carolina Journal radio show, which has discussed topics like "the biases that help convince global warming alarmists that their cause deserves so much attention."
In 2007, North Carolina passed Senate Bill 3 to adopt a minimum requirement for the use of renewable energy sources by investor-owned electric utilities. The bill requires that 12.5 percent of all electricity sold in the state by 2020 must come from renewable sources or improved efficiency. The John Locke Foundation would like to do away with it altogether, according to the group's 2010 climate agenda.
The John Locke Foundation and renewable energy
In December 2011, Facing South reported that representatives of the American Legislative Exchange Council, American Tradition Institute and the John Locke Foundation were holding forums in the North Carolina coastal communities of Wilmington and Morehead City titled, "The Truth About Wind Power on the Coasts of North Carolina". N. C. Senate Bill 3, a law that passed in 2007, made the state the first in the Southeast to adopt a minimum requirement for the use of renewable energy sources by investor-owned electric utilities: 12.5 percent by 2025. The groups dismissed the law as an energy tax on the poor. The John Locke Foundation is calling for repealing it entirely, as well as abandoning all state efforts to address global warming.
The John Locke Foundation and the tobacco industry
JLF has received funding from Phillip Morris (PM), and the former president of the JLF sat on the National Advisory Board of a front-group set up by Phillip Morris called the "National Smokers Alliance."
A February 2, 2000 letter from RJR Tobacco Company's Executive VP, External Relations, Tommy Payne to the JDL reads, in part, "Please find enclosed a check in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) made payable to the John Locke Foundation." 
A June 30, 1994 Philip Morris document lists Marc Rotterman, the former president of the John Locke Foundation, as a Member of the National Board of Advisors for the National Smokers Alliance, a front-group set up by Phillip Morris. 
JDL received $5,000 in funding from PM for "public policy" work in 1998 according to the company's 1998 public policy contributions records. 
According to the November, 2000 edition of "Issues Watch" the JLF received funding from RJ Reynolds in 1996 for "works to improve public policy debate in North Carolina." 
On its website JLF states that it is a 501(c)(3) "non-profit, nonpartisan think tank supported entirely from voluntary contributions. JLF does not and would not accept government funds. It has received support from nearly 1,500 individuals, businesses, and foundations."  JLF does not disclose its corporate or foundation funders.
Media Transparency state that JLF has received $449,559 (unadjusted for inflation) in grants in the 1995-2006 period from a number of foundations including:
- Roe Foundation
- Jaquelin Hume Foundation
- Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
- John Templeton Foundation
- JM Foundation
- Brady Education Foundation
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
While JLF does not disclose who its corporate funders are, some of its funding has come from the tobacco industry.
Board of Directors
- Herb B. Berkowitz
- Bruce M. Babcock
- Charlie Carter
- Dr. James S. Fulghum III, M.D.
- Charles F. Fuller
- William T. Graham
- Robert L. Luddy
- Dr. Assad Meymandi, M.D.
- Baker A. Mitchell, Jr.
- Carl Mumpower
- Thomas H. Roberg
- David M. Stover
- J. M. Bryan Taylor
- Andy Wells
Staff, Fellows, and Scholars
- John Hood, President
- Dr. Roy Cordato
- Julie Gilstrap
- Fergus Hodgson
- Jon Sanders
- Dr. Michael Sanera
- Dr. Terry Stoops
- Don Carrington
- Jon Ham
- Rick Henderson
- Mitch Kokai
- Michael Lowrey
- Donna Martinez
- Barry Smith
- Dan Way
Events & Outreach
- Becki Gray
- Dr. Troy Kickler
- Page Cox
- Katelynd Day
- Tracey McCaskill
- Kory Swanson
- Total Revenue: $3,446,927
- Total Expenses: $3,401,906
- Net Assets: $600,823
- Total Revenue: $3,898,632
- Total Expenses: $3,644,714
- Net Assets: $555,648
- Total Revenue: $3,898,632
- Total Expenses: $3,644,714
- Net Assets: $555,648
- Total Revenue: $3,624,086
- Total Expenses: $3,549,208
- Net Assets: $301,730
200 West Morgan St.
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
Phone: (919) 828-3876
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Joel Schwartz
- 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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