Lucy Burns Institute

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search
LucyBurnsHighlightedflat 2.jpg

The Lucy Burns Institute (LBI) is a Madison-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2006.[1] LBI is named after Lucy Burns, a significant leader of the women's suffrage movement. The organization sponsors two websites: Ballotpedia, which tracks elections and ballot measures at the state level; and Judgepedia, which provides information on America's judges and court systems.

LBI's stated goal is to "connect people to politics." LBI's website states that "We believe in the power of information to transform lives and politics, and we never want a lack of information to be a barrier to civic participation."[2]

For the Center for Media and Democracy's piece "The Lucy Burns Institute (Publishers of Ballotpedia, Judgepedia and WikiFOIA) and Her Right-Wing Bedfellows" click here.

LBI has received major funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.[3] Laura and John Arnold, who are billionaire Democrats, were Obama bundlers.[4][5][6]

LBI and the Sam Adams Alliance

The president of LBI, Leslie Graves, is married to Eric O'Keefe, the former CEO of the now-defunct Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM). LBI took over Ballotpedia and Judgepedia from SAM in 2009[7] and received funding from SAM in 2010, per LBI's 2010 IRS filing.[8] SAM was a 501(c)3 public charity that says it was devoted to "raising awareness of free-market principles."[9] Of its $3.9 million budget,[10] SAM also provided funding to groups such as the Tea Party Patriots, the First Freedom Foundation, and the Citizens in Charge Foundation. SAM received funding from the State Policy Network[citation needed] (SPN) which has received funding from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, a project of Charles Koch who co-owns Koch Industries with his brother David Koch.

In a book by Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, Judgepedia is criticized for being too liberal.[11]

LBI Staff

Lucy Burns Institute500px.jpg

Leslie Graves is the president of LBI.[12] In 2006, Graves started Renewal Voter 
Outreach,[13] registering it as a Nebraska Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).[14] The
 company was paid
 $1.4 million[15] 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[16] needed to get the amendment on the ballot was thrown out.[17] The other petition drive was for a ballot measure to put a cap 
on state spending, which also failed. A blogger[18] traced the string of connections between a nonprofit organization, tied to her husband Eric O'Keefe (who previously sat on the board),[19] 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 was previously involved[20] with Rachel's Vineyard, a Catholic organization that offers weekend retreats for women who have had abortions, which is intended to reconcile what the ministry calls "the sin of abortion."[21]

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.[22] Before her stint in politics, Graves 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?)."[23]

Graves is married to Eric O'Keefe, the former CEO of the now-defunct organization Sam Adams Alliance (SAM). O'Keefe has been featured at events funded by David Koch's Americans for Prosperity (AFP). He helped launched the group 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.[24]

Geoff Pallay, Director of Strategic Projects at LBI,[25] is a graduate of the Koch Associate Program, a program of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.[26] He previously worked as a policy analyst for the South Carolina Policy Council, during which time he was "also learning Market-Based-Management -- a management philosophy created by Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries."[27] Pallay has been featured at events such as a policy forum in 2012 at the Cato Institute (along with Eric O'Keefe).[28]

Kelly O'Keefe, Eric O'Keefe's daughter and the Director of Communications for LBI,[29] worked as development associate for the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies (IHS),[30] which works to identify, develop, and support young libertarians. She was also a Koch Associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. (LBI also employs Graves' daughter, Sara Key, as Vice President of Administration.)[31]

Christopher Bedford, managing editor of the conservative news outlet The Daily Caller, is a former staff writer for LBI and a former Koch Associate with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.[32] Eileen McGuire-Mahony, a former Ballotpedia Staff Writer, was also a Koch Associate.[33][34]

Former LBI staffer Lauren Warden Rodgers appeared in a video produced by the pro-marriage equality group Coalition to Protect NC Families. The video voiced opposition to the anti-gay marriage North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage, Amendment 1, which was on the ballot in May 2012.[35]

Current LBI staffer Samuel Rebenstorf is an intern at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. He authors a blog titled The Aggressive Progressive.[36][37][38]

LBI staffer Anna Wendland took part in the 2011 protests against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's anti-union bill. She was photographed sleeping in the Capitol Rotunda by the Associated Press.[39][40]

Board of Directors

As of March 2014, LBI's Board of Directors is comprised of[41]:

  • Jack McHugh, a senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.[42] The Mackinac Center is a conservative think tank which has received some funding from the Kochs and is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[43] As previously reported by the Center for Media and Democracy, the Mackinac Center has been using ALEC to push efforts to weaken unions, including dismantling public sector collective bargaining rights.[44]
  • Dan Liljenquist
  • Mike Barnhart

LBI and the Sunshine Review

LBI and SAM have both provided funding to the Sunshine Review, a former 501(c)3 non-profit organization "dedicated to state and local government transparency."[45] In 2010, it received over $560,000 from SAM.[46] LBI worked in collaboration with the Sunshine Review on the WikiFOIA project and the Sunshine Review's logo was listed prominently on the homepage of LBI.[47] The organization was founded in July 2008 as a project of SAM, but separated from SAM in 2010. According to LBI's 990 forms, the institute provided Sunshine Review with $231,458 in funding from 2008–2010. According to Sunshine Review's 2010 IRS filing, Graves served as chair of Sunshine Review.[48]

LBI has been listed in the past as a Koch partner organization.[49]

The Sunshine Review was an ALEC Private Sector Member. Michael Barnhart, the former president of the organization, represented the Sunshine Review on ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. At the ALEC 2010 meeting in San Diego, Barnhart discussed proposed model legislation: "The Transparency and Government Accountability Act."[50] It was adopted by the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force in August 2010, and approved by the ALEC Board of Directors in September 2010.[51] Similar versions of this bill have been introduced in states such as Virginia, New Mexico, Iowa, and Utah. The bill requires the development of a detailed website listing all revenue and expenditures of the state down to the level of each check. It also includes voting record information, open records information, information on lobbying and state contracts, and ethics information. While the idea seems unobjectionable, the detailed budgeting information has been criticized as a duplicative effort to showcase and make hay of perceived "wasteful spending."[52]

The Sunshine Review gave states a "Transparency Report Card" grading them at the level of state, county, city, and school district. The organization evaluated over 6,000 government websites.[53] The Sunshine Review worked closely with the National Taxpayers Union,[54] another ALEC member dedicated to reducing taxes and shrinking government. NTU President Duane Parde is former Executive Director of ALEC.[55] The group has been involved in pushing this type of transparency legislation in states across the country, even before it was adopted by ALEC.[56]

LBI and the State Policy Network

LBI is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), which connects and funds conservative state-based think tanks and receives partial funding from The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. SPN is an ALEC member and was a "Chairman" level sponsor of its 2011 Annual Meeting, and many of its affiliated think tanks are ALEC members as well.[57] In 2009, LBI offered free wiki training seminars to SPN members[58] and LBI's President Leslie Graves and LBI have been featured at SPN events.[59]

LBI and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

LBI also collaborates with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a national journalism organization launched by SAM. The Franklin Center has a presence in over 40 states with state-house news bureaus and journalists hosted by other outlets and think tanks. It provides its coverage free as a wire-like service and boasts that it "already provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide." As previously reported by CMD, despite their non-partisan description, many of these websites have received criticism for their conservative bias.[60] In 2011, Ballotpedia hosted a series of webinars on elections with the Franklin Center.[61][62] According to the Franklin Center's 2009 990 report, it gave $43,000 to LBI that year.[63]

Contact Details

Lucy Burns Institute
301 S. Bedford St., Suite 6
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 255-0688[64]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. Guidestar, "Lucy Burns Institute"
  2. Lucy Burns Institute, Lucy Burns Institute FAQ, organizational website, accessed March 30, 2014
  3. Laura and John Arnold Foundation Grants
  4. Huffington Post, "Michelle Rhee's Backers Include Obama Bundler Billionaire, Big Romney Backer," March 9, 2012
  5. Sacramento Bee, "Dan Morain: John Arnold is a Texas billionaire who worked for Enron, but doesn’t seem to have horns," December 8, 2013
  6. Dallas Morning News, "Billionaire John Arnold explains support for DISD home rule ," March 28, 2014
  7. Lucy Burns Institute, "Lucy Burns Institute is the new sponsor of Ballotpedia and Judgepedia," organizational press release, June 2009.
  8. IRS, Sam Adams Alliance IRS 990 form, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  9. PR Newswire, "Sam Adams Alliance Launches New Website," Sam Adams Alliance press release, accessed November 2012.
  10. IRS, Sam Adams Alliance IRS Filing, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  11. Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution, Page 158
  12. Lucy Burns Institute, Meet the Staff, organizational website, accessed November 2012.
  13. Technology Marketing Corporation, "Petition's origins tied to at least nine states", Cross post from the Omaha World-Herald, August 27, 2006.
  14. Unlimited Terms of Endearment, Part VIII: America At Its Worst, The Daily Kos, August 4, 2006.
  15. Technology Marketing Corporation, "Petition's origins tied to at least nine states", Cross post from the Omaha World-Herald, August 27, 2006.
  16. 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.
  17. Jones and Bartlett Publications. "Right or Wrong: Legal and Ethical Issues and Decision-Making", Book Chapter, accessed November 2012.
  18. Unlimited Terms of Endearment, Part VIII: America At Its Worst, The Daily Kos, August 4, 2006.
  19. IRS,Americans for Limited Government IRS 990 Form, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  20. Patron Saint Productions, Inc. Rachel's Vineyard Blooms, August 2002.
  21. Rachel's Vineyard, "Post-Abortion Healing Reconciling an Abortion in the Catholic Church," organizational newsletter, September 1996.
  22. Libertarian Party of Wisconsin, LPedia, accessed November 2012.
  23. The Libertarian Forum, "Smear: The Story of Update -- Part I", Monthly newsletter, August 1982.
  24. "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall: Big money fuels small-government fight," The Washington Post, accessed November 2012.
  25. Ballotpedia, Ballotpedia:Geoff Pallay, user profile page, accessed March 2014.
  26. LinkedIn, Geoff Pallay, LinkedIn profile, accessed August 2012.
  27. College of Charleston, Guest Blogger: Geoff Palay, college blog, August 2009.
  28. Cato Institute, "Citizens v. the Ruling Elite," Policy forum video, April 20, 2012.
  29. Ballotpedia, Ballotpedia:Kelly O'Keefe, user profile, accessed March 2014.
  30. Institute for Humane Studies, GENERAL SEMINAR INFORMATION, organizational handout, June 2010.
  31. Lucy Burns Institute, Our Staff, organizational website, accessed March 2014.
  32. LinkedIn, Christopher Bedford, LinkedIn profile, accessed September 2012.
  33. LinkedIn,Eileen McGuire Mahoney, LinkedIn profile(top half), accessed September 2012.
  34. LinkedIn, Eileen McGuire-Mahoney, LinkedIn profile, accessed September 2012.
  35. Ballotpedia, "Ballotpedia:Lauren Warden Rodgers," Accessed March 2014
  36. Lucy Burns Institute "Our Staff," Accessed March 2014
  37. The Aggressive Progressive "About," Accessed March 2014
  38. LinkedIn "Profile," Accessed March 2014
  39. Lucy Burns Institute "Our Staff," Accessed March 2014
  40. NBC News "Thousands protest Wisconsin anti-union bill," Accessed March 2014
  41. Lucy Burns Institute, "Board of Directors," Accessed March 2014
  42. Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Jack McHugh, staff profile, accessed November 2012.
  43. Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC Non-Profits, Sourcewatch, accessed November 2012.
  44. Center for Media and Democracy, "Koch-Funded Mackinac Center Brings Wisconsin Act 10 Provisions to ALEC," May 2012.
  45. Sunshine Review, About, organizational website, accessed November 2012.
  46. IRS, Sam Adams Alliance IRS 990 forms, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  47. Sunshine Review, About, organizational website, accessed November 2012.
  48. IRS, Sunshine Review IRS 990 forms, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  49. Daily Kos, Another ALEC trick at Federal Level EXPOSED, August 2011.
  50. Common Cause, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Documents, ALEC documents obtained by Common Cause, July 2010.
  51. Center for Media and Democracy, The Transparency and Government Accountability Act, ALEC Exposed, accessed November 2012.
  52. Center for Media and Democracy, "The Lucy Burns Institute (Publishers of Ballotpedia, Judgepedia and WikiFOIA) and Her Right-Wing Bedfellows," November 26, 2012.
  53. Sunshine Review, Core, organizational website, accessed November 2012.
  54. Sunshine Review, About, organizational website, accessed November 2012.
  55. Center for Media and Democracy, National Taxpayers Union, Sourcewatch, accessed November 2012.
  56. National Taxpayers Union, "An Open Letter to Iowa Legislators: Taxpayers Support Taxpayer Transparency Act/Taxation Disclosure Act (SF 102)," March 2009.
  57. Center for Media and Democracy, State Policy Network, Sourcewatch, accessed November 2012.
  58. State Policy Network, Do You Measure Up? organizational newsletter, March/April 2009.
  59. State Policy Network, 2007 State Policy Network 15th Annual Meeting Agenda, October 2007.
  60. Center for Media and Democracy, "Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source," October 2011.
  61. Ballotpedia, "Today: post-election analysis webinar (presentations available)", November 2011.
  62. Ballotnews, Today: 2012 state executive election webinar featuring Scott Rasmussen, June 2012.
  63. IRS, Franklin Center IRS 990 forms, Guide Star, accessed November 2012.
  64. Lucy Burns Institute, Contact, organizational website, accessed November 2012.