National Federation of Independent Business

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Latest News on NFIB

"If you ask most Americans about the NRA, they will think of the National Rifle Association. But another powerful industry trade group bearing those initials, the National Restaurant Association, conducts its own campaign of duplicitous lobbying and outright deception at the expense of the public interest.
Restaurants employ more than 13 million workers, so it is no surprise that industry lobbyists are paid a lot of money to ensure this workforce remains disempowered.
The NRA, which has a staff of 750 people, spent more than $4 million in 2012 alone currying favor in Washington, D.C. But with recent fast-food strikes and restaurant workers increasingly speaking out against low wages and other forms of labor exploitation, the mask of the other NRA is slowly peeling away."
"NFIB and its affiliated groups received $2.5 million from Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a conservative advocacy group with deep ties to the Koch empire. Of the five men that sit on the group's board, four are current or former employees of Koch companies and one is a friend of Charles Koch's.
Freedom Partners gave the NFIB $1.5 million last year, the biggest single contribution the federation received, according to tax records. The Koch-backed group gave three other NFIB-affiliated group another $1 million, making Freedom Partners among the top two biggest contributors to those groups, records show.
The big-money donations are raising questions about whose agenda NFIB is serving, that of mom-and-pop businesses or the captains of big industry."
"The National Federation of Independent Business received a $500,000 contribution from a group funded by the daisy chain of conservative nonprofits linked to the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. Since Barack Obama became president, the NFIB has been the lead plaintiff against Obamacare in the Supreme Court case, advocated for the extension of tax cuts for upper-income Americans, launched a campaign to block regulations including new emissions rules for power plants, and spent millions through its affiliate organizations to support Republican candidates for the House and Senate."
"In recent months, more and more cities and states are requiring that employers give paid sick leave to their workers. It’s a broadly popular policy, and a necessary one—one in three American workers has no guarantee of being paid during an illness, including only 25 percent of part-time workers. Aside from creating even more economic vulnerability for workers, this can greatly increase the spread of seasonal flus, which costs businesses $10.4 billion every year, according to the CDC."
"For years, groups like the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) succeeded in portraying the consensus position of the “small business community” as staunchly favoring lower tax rates on top income earners and corporations. The tax debate surrounding the so-called “fiscal cliff” has exposed the myth that these groups actually represent small businesses and shows that many of these large national groups have very different interests at stake."
"Both the chamber and NFIB have been strong supporters of Republicans in congressional races, so their support for Plan B could sway some conservatives to support the bill despite their misgivings about voting for any tax increase."
"In a June 6, 2012 conference call posted on the anti-union National Federation of Independent Business’s website, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney instructed employers to tell their employees how to vote in the upcoming election."
Records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show that NFIB's "The Voice of Free Enterprise" group disclosed $10,453 in outside spending in the Missouri Senate race between Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin. The spending, disclosed on October 8, was for mailings opposing McCaskill. Read more here.
Contributions compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show that in 2010 the NFIB Small Business Legal Center (SBLC) received $1.15 million from Donors Trust, a major supporter of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Read more here.


Key Stories on NFIB

For more news on NFIB, go here.

Hot Documents

Congressional/IRS Inquiry

Secret Funding

NFIB's IRS 990 filings (with schedule B's showing incoming contribution amounts, not available on Guidestar):





NFIB Lobbying and Research

Partisan Political Activities

Follow the money in the Koch wiki.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is a powerhouse lobbying group (reporting $100 million in revenue in 2013)[1] that purports to represent small businesses, emphasizing the claim that they are "NOT a voice for big business."[2] However, the group has been shown to lobby on issues that favor large corporate interests and run counter to the interests of small businesses.[3][4] News reports have also found that NFIB, which tells the IRS it is a "non-partisan" service organization, engages in partisan politics, and receives millions in hidden contributions.

Small business owners run the gamut politically. For instance, 33 percent identify as Republicans, 32 percent as Democrats, and 29 percent as Independent.[5] However, NFIB accepted a $3.7 million gift in 2010, and a further $1.4 million in 2012, from Crossroads GPS, a group affiliated with Republican political operative Karl Rove that overwhelmingly endorses and financially supports Republican candidates.[6][7] NFIB also received $1.5 million in 2012 from Freedom Partners, a behind-the-scenes organization that has been described as the "Koch brothers' secret bank," according to tax documents.[8]

Other notable contributions publicly disclosed by the donor include $135,783 in 2012 from the Center to Protect Patients Rights, a secretive organization now known as American Encore with intimate ties to the Koch brothers.[9] The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has given to a wide range of conservative groups including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has also provided financial support to NFIB.[10][11][12][13]

Koch Wiki

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.

NFIB Exposed.jpg

In June 2012, Congress launched an inquiry into NFIB’s hidden sources of funding, which include large individual donations of over $1 million. NFIB has refused to disclose its donors, however.[6][14]

A 2006 report quoted NFIB members who said the group was inflating its membership size of 650,000.[15] NFIB now claims 350,000 members.[16]

While the average small business owner makes slightly over $100,000,[17] NFIB filings with the IRS show that CEO Dan Danner’s compensation in 2013 was $938,030.[1]

NFIB is involved with a campaign to lower the corporate tax rate by the Coalition for Fair Effective Tax Rates, along with the International Franchise Association and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, as of 2015. See below for more.

Entities associated with NFIB include the SBLC ("Small Business Legal Center"),[18] the Young Entrepreneur Foundation,[19] NFIB's Research Arm,[20] and its Political Action Committee SAFE Trust ("Save America's Free Enterprise Trust").[21]

Lobbying Efforts that Counter the Interests of Small Business

Federal Lobbying Efforts

Rep. Grijalva Speaks for Transparency, Against Secret Money Buying Our Democracy

NFIB positions frequently run counter to the interests and priorities of small businesses. Scientifically-conducted national surveys of small business owners show that most small business owners support key provisions of health care reform, favor ending special tax breaks for the wealthy, support protecting clean air in local communities, and believe in promoting workplace safety -- all issues NFIB has lobbied against.[4][22]

NFIB reported $1,088,000 in federal lobbying expenditures in 2014, $440,000 of which was spent through the firm Tompkins Strategies, and $120,000 each through Bluestone Strategies and Crossroads Strategies.[23]

Some of the key issues on which NFIB has done significant lobbying include:

  • Affordable Care Act: NFIB was the chief litigant against the 2010 federal health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to an IRS filing, NFIB spent $2.9 million in 2010 to litigate the Supreme Court lawsuit against the ACA.[24] The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the health care law 5-4 on June 28, 2012, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four more liberal members.[25]
  • Taxation: According to federal lobby disclosure reports, NFIB had a $3 million lobbying budget last year. The top issues it pursued with those funds included opposing higher individual tax rates, fighting the "death tax," and supporting "business tax reform." As Mother Jones reports: "Few among the legions of small business owners that it represents will benefit from its lobbying. Only 3 percent of small businesses net more than $250,000 a year, the lowest income that would be affected by Obama's tax plan. This is one reason why a variety of rival small business groups now accuse the NFIB of doing exactly what it was founded to prevent: selling out small business owners to benefit the rich and powerful."[26]
  • Paid Sick Leave: NFIB has spent an unknown, but significant, amount of money and institutional caché fighting common sense proposals to give workers the right to earn sick time. However, a recent small business survey by NFIB found that providing mandatory sick and family leave was not a critical concern of NFIB members. Mandatory sick leave did not fall into the top 10, top 20 or even the top 60 "critical concerns" of NFIB members. In fact, sick leave ranked 64th of 75 issues studied.[27] Please see NFIB Opposition to Earned Sick Days for more.
  • Stop The Health Insurance Tax Coalition: NFIB also organizes separately branded coalitions to advance specific lobbying agendas. Examples include the Stop the Health Insurance Tax Coalition (Stop the HIT Coalition), which seeks to repeal a fee on health insurance companies that is part of the Affordable Care Act.[28]
  • Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations: The Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations coalition opposes environmental protections such as lead paint rules and new power plant emission standards.[29]

State Lobbying Efforts

In addition, NFIB state operations work in close coordination with other business associations and corporations on multiple-state battles:

ROC members and allies during Darden Restaurants Inc annual shareholder's meeting in Orlando, FL
  • Minimum Wage: In 2007, NFIB joined the National Restaurant Association, McDonalds', and Outback Steakhouse in an effort to turn back minimum wage campaigns in state legislatures.[30] The chairman of its New Jersey leadership council, Earl Hall, weighed in against family and medical leave in 2007, calling it "an inappropriate gift" and saying it would tempt employees "to find an excuse to be unproductive for one-fifth of the year by encouraging employees to reduce their availability for work,"[31] when in fact all evidence shows that workers do not abuse medical leave and that family leave promotes economic security, labor force attachment, and improved health outcomes.
  • Paid Sick Leave: NFIB has fought the right of employees to earn paid sick leave in multiple states and municipalities including Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts (see below), Milwaukee (where it supported a lawsuit to overturn the law),[32] Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Minnesota, Vermont, Washington state, and West Virginia. Please see NFIB Opposition to Earned Sick Days for more.
  • Collective Bargaining: In 2011, NFIB of Ohio joined with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Business Roundtable in supporting a multimillion dollar campaign to defend the state’s controversial proposed law to restrict collective bargaining rights in the state.[33] The bill was overturned in a state referendum.[34]

NFIB began in 1944 as a vigorous proponent of small business concerns, such as broad federal action to combat big business concentration and to prosecute antitrust violations -- items which have completely disappeared from NFIB’s present agenda.[35]

Collaboration with International Franchise Association

NFIB is a member of several pro-corporate coalitions organized by or tied to the lobbying powerhouse International Franchise Association (IFA), the board of which includes representatives of large corporations such as McDonald's, Yum! Brands, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, and Marriott International.

Coalition to Save Local Businesses

NFIB is a part of the Coalition to Save Local Businesses (CSLB), a coalition of pro-corporate organizations and trade associations, formed with the help of the IFA, that opposes the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) "joint-employer rule" -- a ruling that holds large corporations that operate franchises jointly accountable with franchise owners for employment conditions.[36] To learn more, see the article on the Coalition to Save Local Businesses.

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace

NFIB is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, an "alliance of industry groups opposed to federal legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize," called the Employee Free Choice Act.[37]. Other members include the IFA and other major corporate lobbying organizations like the National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers. To learn more, see the article on the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.

Coalition for Fair Effective Tax Rates

NFIB is a member and co-chair of the management committee of the Coalition for Fair Effective Tax Rates, which advocates for lowering the tax rates for corporations and other businesses, and NFIB president Dan Danner was listed as the primary contact for the coalition as of 2015. IFA is also a member and sits on the management committee. To learn more, see the article on the Coalition for Fair Effective Tax Rates.

Job Creators Network

NFIB is a "partner" of the Job Creators Network (JCN), an advocacy organization of corporate leaders founded by former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. JCN is best known for its "E2E" employee communications program, which encourages CEOs to pressure their employees to vote for and otherwise support a corporate political agenda. In 2015, it launched a web-based advocacy campaign, "Defend Main Street," which attacks the National Labor Relations Board's decision to consider McDonald's a "joint employer" of franchise employees. Defend Main Street's website was produced by "notorious astroturf pioneer" Richard Berman's PR firm, Berman & Co., according to reporting by Mother Jones.[38] To learn more, see the articles on the Job Creators Network and Defend Main Street.

Partisan Politics

NFIB's Lopsided Political Giving

Despite NFIB’s pattern of political giving that overwhelmingly favors Republican candidates, small business owners themselves do not follow an ideological or partisan skew. In a 2008 survey of small-business owners by American Express OPEN, 33 percent of the respondents identified themselves as Republicans, 32 percent as Democrats, and 29 percent as independent or claimed no party affiliation.[39]

Chart from Open Secrets showing NFIB's lopsided political spending.

NFIB’s political giving has not been dispersed in a representative way.

In nine of the last ten election cycles, NFIB has given 90 percent or more of its political contributions to Republican candidates. In the 2014 election cycle, it reported $723,544 in contributions to Republican candidates and $15,000 to Democratic candidates, a 98 percent to 2 percent split.[40] The 2012 election cycle had nearly the same split; NIFB reported $670,543 in contributions to Republican candidates and $11,000 to Democratic candidates, a 98 percent to 2 percent split.[41]

This skew toward the GOP is longstanding. On the CRP's "Heavy Hitters" list of top all-time political donors since 1989, NFIB ranked third in terms of the percentage of contributions given to Republican candidates. Ninety-three percent of its contributions went to Republican candidates over this period. NFIB’s contributions are even more lopsided than the political spending of other well-known, well-funded lobbies, including Koch Industries (91 percent to Republican candidates), Exxon Mobil (86 percent to Republican candidates), and the National Rifle Association (82 percent to Republican candidates).[42]

Bloomberg reported that: "NFIB reported spending more than $1 million on ads to help elect Republicans in 2010, as well as another $1.5 million that it kept hidden and said was exempt from requirements that it disclose campaign spending."[43]

In a 2006 report by a newspaper in the group’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, NFIB members criticized the group for GOP partisanship.[44]

Partisan Politics in the 2014 Election Cycle

NFIB was active in the 2014 election and has made a number of endorsements across the country, including for Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AK), who is challenging Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK) for his seat; and for Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC).[45][46]

All in all, the organization spent $1,409,688 in the 2014 election cycle through its Super PAC The Safe Trust; 99 percent went to Republican candidates.[47]

In a press release, President and CEO Dan Danner hailed the results of the midterm elections as a resounding success: "Small business owners believe overwhelmingly that Washington is principally responsible for the country's economic problems, and for that reason, a change of leadership in the Senate was crucial.[48]"

NFIB's Voice of Free Enterprise Collaborates with AHIP over Deceptive Ad in 2014 Elections

NFIB Voice of Free Enterprise ad against Sen. Mark Pryor

The NFIB also collaborated with America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) over a misleading issue ad in the 2014 election cycle, according to the New York Times.[49]

In December 2013, Voice of Free Enterprise (VFE), characterized as the advocacy arm of the NFIB, ran a television ad against incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), a lawmaker whose seat could determine the control of the Senate in the next Congress. The ad featured a small business owner from Little Rock, Arkansas, who criticized Pryor for his support for the Affordable Care Act.[49]

"We are a small business that has been part of the central Arkansas community for four generations," says the business owner in the ad. "What Obamacare means for Arkansas small businesses is tough choices, the mandates, the increased costs, the increased taxes."[49]

According to the Times article, however, "the largest chunk of money donated to the nonprofit group's advocacy effort came not from small-business owners, but rather from health insurance companies trying to repeal a health care tax, the most recently available federal tax records show."[49]

Those records indicate that $1.593 million of VFE's $4.9 million in revenue in 2012 came from an anonymous contributor. At the same time, AHIP reported spending $1.593 million on its advocacy efforts regarding health insurance reform. A representative of AHIP later confirmed that the health insurance trade group was the source of the unidentified donation, noting it announced its work with NFIB in a press release published in 2011.[49]

VFE also received $575,000 from Freedom Partners, the “de facto bank” for wealthy rightwing donors, founded by the Koch brothers.[50]

Nowhere does the ad disclose that VFE, the ad's sponsor, is in part funded by the health insurance industry -- which has a compelling finical interest to repeal taxes within the law -- and the Koch brothers. According to the New York Times, even the business owner featured in the ad was unaware of VFE's finances.[49]

Partisan Politics in the 2012 Election Cycle

In July of 2012, NFIB announced a campaign in nine states against what it calls a "tidal wave" of regulations slated to take effect in 2013. The campaign is described as an issue education campaign, but the states -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia -- are all presidential battleground states, and many have hotly contested Senate races.[51]

In August of 2012, NFIB announced a $2 million ad campaign to aid eight Republican House candidates in tight congressional races. They ran an ad in Nevada thanking Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Joe Heck for "doing big things for small business", which you can listen to here. They also ran similar ads in: IL-­17 (Bobby Schilling); IA­-03 (Tom Latham); NY­-19 (Chris Gibson); CA­-07 (Dan Lungren); NC­-08 (attacking Larry Kissell to aid Richard Hudson); Maine­-02 (attacking Mike Michaud to aid Kevin Raye); and OH­-16 (Jim Renacci).[52]

Protestors at an NFIB bus tour event

In February 2012, Politico reported on NFIB's formation of "NFIB, The Voice of Free Enterprise, Inc," a new entity that "allows individuals and groups - who are not small businesses - to join its lobbying effort."[53] On October 8, 2012, NFIB's new Voice of Free Enterprise group disclosed spending $95,914 on mailings in 9 Senate races, including $10,453 for mailings opposing Claire McCaskill in the Missouri Senate race between McCaskill and Todd Akin. The other mailings were in Montana (supporting Denny Rehberg), Virginia (supporting George Allen), North Dakota (supporting Rick Berg), Connecticut (opposing Christopher S. Murphy), Wisconsin (opposing Tammy Baldwin), Ohio (supporting Josh Mandel), Florida (supporting Connie Mack), and Michigan (opposing Debbie Stabenow).[54]

In the 2012 election cycle overall, NFIB spent a total of $4,063,021 in outside spending, including $1,983,385 through its new "Voice of Free Enterprise" 501(c)(4) entity. Every dollar of its independent expenditures was spent either in support of Republican candidates ($2,583,943) or against Democratic candidates ($1,479,078).[55]

NFIB Opposition to Earned Sick Days

In addition to direct lobbying of lawmakers (see above), other NFIB anti-paid sick day campaign tactics include grassroots lobbying via email blasts to members encouraging them to contact lawmakers,[56] legislative updates,[57] economic reports -- in Colorado,[58] Illinois,[59] Massachusetts,[60] and other states -- and earned media outreach.

Please see NFIB Opposition to Earned Sick Days for more.

Philadelphia Paid Sick Leave

In March 2013, the Philadelphia City Council passed, by an 11 to 6 vote, a paid sick days bill that would have allowed employees without sick leave to earn up to four paid sick days per year.[61] Over 180,000 workers in Philadelphia do not have access to paid sick days and would have benefited from this measure. [62] However, major opponents of the paid sick leave bill, special interest groups aligned with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), successfully lobbied Mayor Nutter to veto it[62]. The bill died when the council was unable to sway enough nay votes to override the mayoral veto; they needed just one more.[61] These groups, the National Restaurant Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) are all tied to ALEC.[62] The case of Philadelphia was unique in "the participation of telecommunications giant Comcast, Philadelphia's highest grossing company and an ALEC member."[62] The corporation spent over $108,000 on lobbying, most of which went towards opposition to the paid sick days bill.[62]

More than 40 percent of the work force in the United States cannot take sick days without losing wages or possibly their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Major cities such as Washington DC, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, as well as the state of Connecticut, have put paid sick day laws on the books; New York City will soon follow suit.[62] The initiative is quickly moving to cities across the country "and in each case, the state and local branches of the National Restaurant Association, the NFIB, and the Chamber are actively opposing it" as they did in Philadelphia.[62] Philadelphia was not the first instance where these special interest groups came together to thwart this legislation. City of Milwaukee voters passed a paid sick days referendum with over 70 percent of the vote in 2008 but when Scott Walker became Wisconsin's governor in 2011, the state affiliate of the National Restaurant Association and the local Chamber lobbied Walker to back "a bill to overturn this expression of local democratic will and preempt any local paid sick day ordinance."[62]

Push to Repeal Prevailing Wage Laws

NFIB is part of a campaign to repeal prevailing wage laws, which require public construction projects to support local wage standards instead of undercutting them. Also pushing for prevailing wage repeal are ALEC; the non-union building contractors' trade association, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC); Americans for Prosperity; and a number of "think tanks" affiliated with the State Policy Network, including the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute for Public Policy.[63]

Read more in "ALEC, NFIB Push Prevailing Wage Repeal" on

NFIB Financing

Ties to the Koch Brothers

According to CNN, NFIB "got more money [in 2012] from a group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch than any other single source."[64] The Koch-backed Freedom Partners gave $1.5 million to NFIB and an additional $1 million to three other groups affiliated with NFIB.

At the time, NFIB was involved in fighting the Affordable Care Act through the case NFIB v. Sebelius and working in opposition to an increase on income tax rates for people making over $250,000. CNN wrote that the donations were "raising questions about whose agenda NFIB is serving, that of mom-and-pop businesses or the captains of big industry."[64]

Lisa Gilbert of watchdog group Public Citizen said, "The idea that Koch brothers money in some way is going to help small businesses is laughable," Gilbert said. "What they're buying is the ability to help set the agenda."[64]

In 2011, the Koch-linked Free Enterprise America donated $500,000 to NFIB, the first known direct donation from a Koch-backed organization to the group.[65]

Crossroads GPS and Donors Trust

Karl Rove

The year it launched the lawsuit against the health care law, NFIB received $3.7 million from Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (better known as Crossroads GPS), a nonprofit group affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove.[66][67] The grant from Crossroads GPS was part of a $16 million grant program that served as a "trial run" for what Crossroads President Steven Law dubbed "funding the right."[68]

According to new data compiled by CRP, in 2010 the SBLC received $1.15 million from Donors Trust, a "conservative 501(c)(3) conduit group" and major donor to the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity Foundation (donating $7.65 million to AFP Foundation in 2010).[69][70] This $1.15 million from Donors Trust accounted for more than half of the SBLC's revenue that year.[71]

NFIB failed to disclose the sources of these and other large donations amounting to over $10 million in undisclosed six-figure contributions from 2010 to 2011. These include donations of $2.04 million, $1.65 million, and $1.2 million, amounts unlikely to have been donated by small business owners who, as NFIB itself acknowledges, often run shoestring operations.[71]

The SBLC also received a $100,000 contribution from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in 2010, explicitly marked in the Bradley Foundation's IRS filings "to support health-care litigation efforts."[72][73] The Bradley Foundation gave to a range of conservative groups in 2010, including $500,000 to Americans for Prosperity Foundation and $95,000 to ALEC.[74]

In contrast, in 2009, before NFIB launched its health care lawsuit, the biggest contribution to NFIB from an outside source was $21,000, and the biggest to the SBLC was $7,500.[71] Please see NFIB's Legal Arm for more.

AHIP Health Insurance Lobby

The nation's leading healthcare insurance industry lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), contributed $850,000 to NFIB in 2011 to repeal a provision of President Obama's healthcare legislation. By routing this difficult-to-trace funding through NFIB, AHIP was able to re-frame the issue away from big insurance, allowing their more politically popular ally to frame the provision as an attack on small business owners, according to The National Journal.[75]

"Some in Washington call this message-laundering," wrote Businessweek. "Americans hold small business in higher regard than any institution other than the military. Groups with a small business pedigree make attractive mouthpieces for messages that lawmakers and the public would be skeptical about hearing from, say, big insurance companies." [76]

The donation "underscores how deeply the small business group has allied itself with the industry and special interest groups that seek to weaken the Affordable Care Act," the Huffington Post noted. [77]

The targeted healthcare provision would impose a tax on healthcare premiums as of 2014, costing the insurance industry approximately $100 billion over the next decade. The NFIB's opposition to the provision included lobbying legislators on the state and federal levels, and to push state legislators to pass resolutions opposing the tax.[75]

AHIP and the NFIB announced a collaboration in 2011 to fight the tax on healthcare premiums, stating they were "partnering to get out the facts about the impact the premium tax will have on the cost of coverage and to build bipartisan support to prevent it from going into effect in 2014."[78]

AHIP made a similar backdoor contribution to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when President Obama's healthcare reform was being considered, The $100 million contribution "allowed insurers to publicly stake out a pro-reform position while privately funding the leading antireform lobbying group in Washington," The National Journal wrote.[75]

NFIB Leadership

Dan Danner

NFIB’s President is Dan Danner. Nothing in Danner’s bio suggests he has ever been a small business owner. Rather, he has strong corporate and political credentials. He began his career as a lobbyist for the steel industry. Danner joined NFIB in 1993 and was appointed chief lobbyist in 1995.[79] He assumed the leadership of NFIB in February 2009.[80]

As NFIB's top lobbyist, Danner has attended meetings with Republican leaders at least twice a month for 12 years, according to the Washington Post, and Danner was called "the go-to guy for the House Republican leadership" by a congressional staffer in 2005.[79]

According to NFIB’s IRS filings, Danner made $743,676 in 2011.[81] Tax data show that 97 percent of small business owners earn less than $250,000 a year in take-home income[82] or close to just a third of what Danner earns as NFIB’s President.

At the beginning of 2012, the group retained Mark Warren, former chief counsel for the Senate Republican Policy Committee, as a lobbyist.[83] The lobbying team does not appear to include a formerly Democratic lobbyist.

For more of Danner's right-wing ties, as well as those of its DC staff like Susan Eckerly, Stephen P. Woods, and Jean Card, please see NFIB's Right Wing Ties.

Congressional Inquiry

In June 2012, the Progressive Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to NFIB President Dan Danner questioning the group’s ties to "'corporate-funded activist groups,' rather than small firms."[24]

Congressman Raul Grijalva later sent a letter to the IRS asking them to investigate NFIB’s tax-exempt status.[84] "Secrecy is not a small business value, nor is it in the interests of political integrity," Grijalva wrote. "If NFIB is determined not to say where its money comes from or who its members are, we must ask what the group is hiding."[84]

NFIB has refused to disclose its hidden donors to Congress.[85]

Controversy over Membership Size

In the mid-2000s, NFIB claimed 600,000 members, a number disputed by former NFIB leaders, who said the group inflated its size to maintain clout with Congress.[86]

As of 2012, NFIB claimed 350,000 members.[87]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

NFIB is a private-sector member of ALEC and has had representatives on ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force,[88] Health and Human Services Task Force,[89] and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.[90] In August 2014, NFIB joined the corporate board of ALEC.[91] NFIB was a "Trustee's" level funder of ALEC's 2016 Annual Conference, which in 2010 equated to $5,000.[92]

About ALEC
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, and check out breaking news on our site.

Other NFIB-ALEC Connections

  • Jean Card, NFIB's Vice President of Media and Communications, was a Task Force Director at ALEC from 1994 to 1996.[95]

ALEC has recently come under scrutiny and lost many of its corporate and non-profit members.[98] NFIB has not unaffiliated itself with ALEC.

Other Right Wing Ties

NFIB has a 14-member board of directors composed primarily of small and medium sized business executives,[99] but the heart of NFIB’s political operation is its DC office. NFIB's staff is headed by its president and CEO “Dan” Danner (whose background is discussed in detail above); Susan Eckerly, Senior Vice President for Federal Public Policy; Stephen P. Woods, senior vice president for state operations; and Jean Card, vice president for media and communications.[100] Danner, Eckerly, and Card have multiple ties to various right wing groups. Please see NFIB's Right Wing Ties for more.

NFIB's Legal Arm

NFIB's legal arm, the SBLC, spearheads the NFIB's legal assault on the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). It is one of its three 501(c)(3) foundation arms.[101]

Please see NFIB's Legal Arm for more.

Key Personnel

Board of Directors

NFIB's board members, as of April 2015, are:[102]

  • Steve Schramm (OK Interiors Corporation), Chair
  • W. Bruce O’Donoghue (Control Specialists Company), Vice Chair
  • Patti Bossert (Key Staffing)
  • Thomas J. Bryce (Bryce Corporation)
  • Maria Coakley David (C. J. Coakley Co., Inc.)
  • Dan Danner
  • Nevin J. Groce (L&G Industrial Products, Inc. and The Silas Group, Inc.)
  • David M. Guernsey (Guernsey Office Products, Inc.)
  • Douglass Henry (Henry Molded Products)
  • Betty Neighbors (TERRA Staffing Group)
  • Greg Powell (Fi-Plan Partners)
  • Jeff Ready (Scale Computing)
  • Kurt E. Summers (Austin Welder & Generator Svc)
  • Jose Villa (Sensis Agency)
  • Sherry Wuebben (St Joseph Equipment)

Former board members include:[103][104]

  • Timothy Clayton
  • James M. Herr
  • A. June Lennon
  • Thomas Michael Nobis
  • Ruth Lopez Novodor

National Staff

NFIB's national staff, as of April 2015[105] (with total compensation from NFIB and related organizations for FY 2013),[1] are:

  • Dan Danner, President and Chief Executive Officer ($938,030)
  • Mary Blasinsky, Senior Vice President, Chief of Staff ($511,139)
  • Tammy Boehms, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer ($819,801)
  • John Casella, Senior Vice President, Sales ($430,067)
  • Brad Close, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy
  • Janet Connor, Vice President, Human Resources
  • Mark Garzone, Senior Vice President, Marketing ($414,156)
  • Steve Woods, Senior Vice President, State Operations ($426,250)

National Staff

Former staff include:[106]

  • Jean Card, Vice President, Media and Communications
  • Susan Eckerly, Senior Vice President, Federal Public Policy

Contact Information

National Federation of Independent Business
53 Century Blvd, Suite 250
Nashville, TN 37214
Toll-Free: (800) 634-2669
Direct: (615) 872-5800
Web Form:

Essential Resources

  • provides critical analysis of Rich States, Poor States and other "business rankings." Grading the States is a project of the Iowa Policy Project, overseen by economist Peter Fisher, professor emeritus at the University of Iowa.

Related SourceWatch Articles

PRWatch Articles on NFIB

NFIB in the News


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  45. National Federation of Independent Businesses, NFIB Endorses Tom Cotton for U.S. Senate, organizational press release, July 1, 2014.
  46. National Federation of Independent Businesses, NFIB Endorses Governor Haley For Second Term, organizational press release, July 1, 2014.
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  52. James Hohmann, Akin probably cannot save his campaign -- NFIB launches $2 million ad campaign -- Obama pushing education -- Republicans, Ryan driving on defense -- Isaac heads for Tampa, Politico, August 21, 2012.
  53. Anna Palmer and Dave Levinthal, NFIB launches 'Voice of Free Enterprise' - Dunn fights back - Hybrids up pace - Obama to get star power help at NYC fundraiser - Mica to K Street: Be mine, Politico, February 14, 2012.
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