John William Pope Civitas Institute
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
The John William Pope Civitas Institute is a conservative state think tank based in North Carolina and launched in 2005 to "facilitate the implementation of conservative policy solutions." Its vision is "of a North Carolina whose citizens enjoy liberty and prosperity derived from limited government, personal responsibility and civic engagement. The Civitas Institute is a member of the State Policy Network.
Civitas is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit that gets most of its funding from North Carolina businessman Art Pope (John William Pope's son). Civitas Action is its 501(c)(4) sister organization, in which Pope is also a founding member.
A 2010 Facing South comparison of the tax records filed by the Civitas Institute and the John Williams Pope Foundation -- which Art Pope chairs -- reveals that Pope's backing has constituted more than 99 percent of all the grants, donations and gifts that Civitas has received between 2005 and 2009.
Campaigning for Climate Skeptics
In October 2010, Civitas Action spent $5,750 on mailers targeting North Carolina House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate leader Marc Basnight, Democrats who have been supportive of efforts to address global warming. Hackney led the state's climate change commission for a time before appointing in his place Rep. Pricey Harrison (D), one of the legislature's strongest environmental advocates. Basnight has talked about his concern that global warming and associated sea rise could inundate the region and supports a move to clean energy sources. Frances De Luca, president of the Civitas Institute and the former state director of the North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity, has said more mailers are planned.
Running against 15-term Hackney is Cathy Wright, a nursing instructor who's also worked as a lobbyist for medical groups. Her campaign manager did not respond to Facing South's request for information about her position on climate change. But Wright does say she's a member of the Conservative Womens Forum, which promotes a book calling global warming a "scam" and is critical of clean energy solutions from cap-and trade legislation to wind power to the promotion of compact-fluorescent light bulbs. Additionally, her campaign website links directly to both the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute. Basnight's opponent is Hood Richardson, a retired minerals geologist and commissioner for Beaufort County, N.C. Richardson calls global warming a "problem that has since been debunked as based on faulty science." He also criticizes Basnight for helping create the state climate change commission, saying it will "severely harm businesses." He cites the John Locke Foundation for his assertions.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The John William Pope Civitas Institute is 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.
- Francis X. De Luca, President
- Brian Balfour, Director of Policy and Operations
- Dr. Robert Luebke, Senior Policy Analyst
- Jim Tynen, Director of communications
- Susan Myrick, Elections Analyst
- Alexander Guin, Director of Development
- Bill Gilbert, Director of Technology and Outreach
- Cameron Harwick, Web Development and Media
- Angela Height, Policy Analyst
- Rhett Forman, Outreach and Development Assistant
Civitas' near-total reliance on funding from Art Pope makes it a "private foundation" in the eyes of the IRS, a classification reserved for nonprofits that depend on a sole benefactor. Nationally, the majority of 501(c)(3) nonprofits are public charities; only six percent are private foundations. Pope also sits on the group's board of directors. The group's president, Francis De Luca, used to be director of the North Carolina branch of Americans for Prosperity, a large supporter of the Tea Party Patriots -- the Pope Foundation is the second-largest financial backer of foundations giving to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
Pope is also at the heart of Civitas Action, the Civitas Institute's 501(c)(4) sister group that is running attack ads against 2010 Democratic state legislators that support renewable energy. Pope is listed as a founding board member of Civitas Action. According to State Board of Elections records, 72 percent of the money Civitas Action has raised for the ads comes from Variety Wholesalers, the retail company Pope owns. The rest came from Americans for Prosperity, where Pope is a director and a leading donor.
- Total Revenue: $1,384,584
- Total Expenses: $1,599,000
- Net Assets: $196,715
- Total Revenue: $1,384,584
- Total Expenses: $1,599,000
- Net Assets: $255,763
- Total Revenue: $1,066,592
- Total Expenses: $1,551,161
- Net Assets: $457,628
100 S. Harrington St.
Raleigh, NC 27603
Phone: (919) 834-2099
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Americans for Prosperity
- Art Pope
- John Locke Foundation
- Patients First
- 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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- Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 31, 2011.
- Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network, The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
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- Guidestar, State Policy Network, IRS filings and other organizational information about SPN.
- Center for Policy Alternatives, ALEC and the Extreme Right-Wing Agenda, organizational brochure about ALEC and SPN.
- John J. Miller, Fifty Flowers Bloom: Conservative think tanks — mini–Heritage Foundations — at the state level, National Review, November 19, 2007.
- Bridge Project, State Policy Network, online resource listing grants to SPN and SPN's connections to other groups.
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- Greenpeace, Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group: State Policy Network (SPN), organizational resource.
- ↑ Civitas Institute, "About", organizational website, accessed November 2012.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Chris Kromm, "Blessed to have a Pope", Facing South, October 14, 2010.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Sue Sturgis, "A Pope of climate denial" Facing South, October 26, 2010.
- ↑ Franklin Center, Watchdog.org, organizational document, May 2013, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy June 2013.
- ↑ The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ Rebekah Metzler, 'Watchdog' website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
- ↑ Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 27, 2011.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
- ↑ Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
- ↑ Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
- ↑ Bradley Foundation, The Bradley Foundation, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ Sam Adams Alliance, Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit, organizational PDF, accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ Media Matters Action Network, Sam Adams Alliance, Conservative Transparency website, accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network, Conservative Transparency website, accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ Media Matters Action Network, Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, Conservative Transparency website, accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ John William Pope Civitas Institute, IRS form 990, 2011. GuideStar.
- ↑ John William Pope Civitas Institute, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
- ↑ John William Pope Civitas Institute, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.