Leslie Graves

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Leslie B. Graves, formerly Leslie Key, is the president of the Lucy Burns Institute, a Madison-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which sponsors twowebsites: Ballotpedia, which tracks elections and ballot measures at the state level; and Judgepedia, which provides information on the nation's judges and court systems.

LBI has received major funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.[1] Laura and John Arnold, who are billionaire Democrats, were Obama bundlers.[2][3][4]

Graves and petition drives

In 2006, Graves started Renewal Voter 
Outreach,[5] registering it as a Nebraska Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).[6] The
 company was paid
 $1.4 million[7] to conduct petition drives for two ballot initiatives in Nebraska. One was in favor of a "Humane Care" amendment to the state constitution which would prevent the withholding of food and water from terminally ill patients at the request of their kin, unless there were a written "advance directive," or living will, specifying otherwise. According to The Omaha World-Herald, about one out of every five signatures[8] needed to get the amendment on the ballot, were
 thrown out.[9] The other petition drive was for a ballot measure to put a cap 
on state spending, which also failed. A blogger[10] traced the string of connections between a nonprofit organization, tied to her husband Eric O'Keefe (who previously sat on the board)[11] which provided money to a group which then funded two other
 groups which in turn provided funding to Graves' LLC to collect the petitions.

Graves' post-abortion ministry through Catholic Church

Graves was involved with Rachel's Vineyard, a Catholic ministry that offers weekend retreats for women who have had abortions.[12] Graves has worked as a facilitator of these retreats, authored a guidebook for others interested in hosting these retreats, and is former editor of the group’s newsletter. The group focuses on dealing with what the ministry calls "the sin of abortion” and says it aides women in what it describes as the process to “reconcile their sin with God."[13] According to an article about Graves: "Graves thinks that making abortion illegal would not stop it from happening, so her interest is in helping post-abortive women. In that sense, you could call her a supporter of abortion rights." [14] The National Pastoral Director of the “world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion” is Father Frank Pavone, who was the spokesman for the Terri Schiavo parents and relatives during the controversy over whether to end her life.[15]

Graves' links to the Libertarian Party

Graves, formerly known as Leslie Key, became the Wisconsin chair of the Libertarian Party in 1979 and served as a regional representative on the Libertarian National Committee until 1983.[16] Before her stint in politics, Leslie served as an editor for the Update newsletter, published by the Libertarian Review Foundation. The publication was criticized by libertarian economist Murray Rothbard in his newsletter, the Libertarian Forum, for being "an unofficial organ" disseminating the views of Ed Crane, the founder and former president of the Cato Institute. A 1981 memo from Crane to Graves and David Koch reads: "David Koch has indicated he will kick in $10,000 to Update next year. If Leslie is very nice to him we might be able to talk him into $5,000 more (right, David?)."[17]

Graves' husband

Graves is married to Eric O'Keefe, the former CEO of the conservative and now-defunct Sam Adams Alliance (SAM). O'Keefe has been featured at events funded by David Koch's Americans for Prosperity (AFP) group which is heavily involved in supporting Republican politicians. O'Keefe helped launch American Majority, which trains conservative candidates to run for office. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Club for Growth Wisconsin, which ran divisive ads in support of Governor Scott Walker's radical overhaul of collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin workers. He has also served on the board of the Institute for Humane Studies, the Center for Competitive Politics, and the Health Care Compact Alliance.[18]

LBI took over Ballotpedia and Judgepedia from SAM in 2009[19] and received funding from SAM in 2010, per the group's 990 IRS filing.[20] SAM was a 501(c)3 public charity whose mission was to "spread awareness of free-market principles."[21] Of its $3.9 million budget,[22] SAM also provided funding to groups such as the Tea Party Patriots Foundation, the First Freedom Foundation, and the Citizens in Charge Foundation. SAM received funding from the State Policy Network (SPN)[citation needed] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation, a project of Charles Koch who co-owns Koch Industries with his brother David Koch.

No relation to Lisa Graves

Leslie Graves is not related in any way to the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy (SourceWatch editor) in Madison, Wisconsin, Lisa Graves.[23]

Articles and resources


  1. Laura and John Arnold Foundation Grants
  2. Huffington Post, "Michelle Rhee's Backers Include Obama Bundler Billionaire, Big Romney Backer," March 9, 2012
  3. Sacramento Bee, "Dan Morain: John Arnold is a Texas billionaire who worked for Enron, but doesn’t seem to have horns," December 8, 2013
  4. Dallas Morning News, "Billionaire John Arnold explains support for DISD home rule ," March 28, 2014
  5. Technology Marketing Corporation, "Petition's origins tied to at least nine states", Cross post from the Omaha World-Herald, August 27, 2006.
  6. Unlimited Terms of Endearment, Part VIII: America At Its Worst, The Daily Kos, August 4, 2006.
  7. Technology Marketing Corporation, "Petition's origins tied to at least nine states", Cross post from the Omaha World-Herald, August 27, 2006.
  8. New Nebraska Network, The Downside of "Humane Care" Amendment Not Making the November Ballot, Captures parts of an The Omaha World-Herald article which is no longer accessible, August 4, 2006.
  9. Jones and Bartlett Publications. "Right or Wrong: Legal and Ethical Issues and Decision-Making", Book Chapter, accessed November 2012.
  10. Unlimited Terms of Endearment, Part VIII: America At Its Worst, The Daily Kos, August 4, 2006.
  11. IRS,Americans for Limited Government IRS 990 Form, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  12. Patron Saint Productions, Inc. Rachel's Vineyard Blooms, August 2002.
  13. Rachel's Vineyard, "Post-Abortion Healing Reconciling an Abortion in the Catholic Church," organizational newsletter, September 1996.
  14. Rachel's Vineyard, "Going Beyond the Politics of Abortion," accessed March 2014
  15. Priests for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone, organizational website, accessed November 2012.
  16. Libertarian Party of Wisconsin, LPedia, accessed November 2012.
  17. The Libertarian Forum, "Smear: The Story of Update -- Part I", Monthly newsletter, August 1982.
  18. "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall: Big money fuels small-government fight," The Washington Post, accessed November 2012.
  19. Lucy Burns Institute, "Lucy Burns Institute is the new sponsor of Ballotpedia and Judgepedia," organizational press release, June 2009.
  20. IRS, Sam Adams Alliance IRS 990 form, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  21. PR Newswire, "Sam Adams Alliance Launches New Website," Sam Adams Alliance press release, accessed November 2012.
  22. IRS, Sam Adams Alliance IRS Filing, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  23. Center for Media and Democracy, "The Lucy Burns Institute (Publishers of Ballotpedia, Judgepedia and WikiFOIA) and Her Right-Wing Bedfellows," November 26, 2012.

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

External articles

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