Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
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The Pioneer Institute (PI) is a conservative think tank that describes itself as "committed to individual freedom and responsibility, limited and accountable government, and the application of free market principles to state and local policy". It houses and runs the Center for School Reform, the Shamie Center for Better Government, and the Center for Economic Opportunity. It is known for having a staff that has served in various positions in the recent Republican Massachusetts governors’ administrations (Weld, Cellucci, Swift, and Romney).
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
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 Mitt Romney
The following are known connections between the Pioneer Institute and 2012 U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
- Charles Chieppo, the institute’s current Senior Media Fellow and former director of the Pioneer Institute’s Shamie Center for Restructuring Government, was Romney’s Policy Director in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.
- Jim Peyser, the institute’s Executive Director from 1993-2000, is a member of Romney’s 2012 campaign’s education policy advisory committee, was chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education during Romney’s administration, and was an education advisor to Romney during his time as governor.
- Steve Poftak, the institute’s current Research Director, was head of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance in the Romney administration, where he oversaw the state budget.
- Charles Baker, former executive director of the Pioneer Institute, was a Romney advisor in 2003 and chaired his transition advisory committee on healthcare before he became governor. Baker would go on to be the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2010.
- Kerry Healey, Romney’s Lieutenant Governor, is a current member of the Pioneer Institute’s Board of Directors.
- Peter Nessen simultaneously served on the Pioneer Institute’s Board of Directors and as the chief education advisor to Romney during his time as governor.
- Erin Blake Elefante, Pioneer Institute’s development director, worked on Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign.
- Mary Z. Connaughton, Pioneer Institute’s Director of Finance and Administration, was appointed by then-Governor Romney to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board of directors.
- Josh Archambault, current Director of Health Care Policy at the Pioneer Institute, was a senior legislative aide in the Massachusetts Governor’s Office during the Romney administration.
- Former District Court Judge Daniel B. Winslow, who served as then-Gov. Romney’s chief legal counsel, won the institute’s “Better Government” competition for proposals to reform the judiciary.
2003 Massachusetts Board of Education Ethics Tangle
The Pioneer Institute was the subject of controversy when the state Ethics Commission investigated several members of the Massachusetts Board of Education in 2003. As the board was getting ready to vote on 11 proposed charter schools, board member Charles D. Baker asked the state Ethics Commission if he should recuse himself due to the fact he sat on the Pioneer Institute’s Board of Directors, and six of the 11 charter proposals were submitted by people who received training, support, and a $50,000 stipend (each) from the Pioneer Institute. Baker had previously recused himself of charter school votes in 2002. Two other members of the nine-person board of education also had ties with the Pioneer Institute: Abigail Thernstorm, who was an academic advisor to the institute; and Chairman James Peyser, who was the institute’s former executive director. Peyser did not ask for the Ethics Commission’s opinion, and Thernstorm was cleared to vote by the commission as long as she disclosed her relationship with the Pioneer Institute to the governor’s office (Mitt Romney). Baker ended up not attending the voting meeting, and therefore did not vote, due to a scheduling conflict.
The matter was later brought up in court when the city of North Adams sued the Board of Education, the state’s education commissioner, and the attorney general over the constitutionality of charter schools since they are both publicly funded and privately run. The lawsuit claimed that there was a conflict of interest in the approval of several charter schools due to their connections, present and past, to the Pioneer Institute. The lawsuit was dismissed by the court in 2004.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research has hosted writers from the ALEC-connected Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which screens potential reporters on their “free market” views as part of the job application process. 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.
Pioneer's History: Ties to Oil and Gas Magnate and GOP Apparatchiks
The Pioneer Institute was founded with a $160,000 grant (and matching grants requested from personal friends) in 1988 by businessman Lovett C. Peters (1913-2010), who made his millions in the oil and gas industry, including at Energy Ventures, Conoco, and Bankers Trust. Civil rights attorney Harvey A. Silverglate told the Boston Globe upon Peters' death in 2010, "His creature, the Pioneer Institute, follows Pete’s lead . . ." Peters' son Daniel runs the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation, a major donor to the cause of education privatization. Peters received the "Roe Award" -- named after SPN founder Thomas A. Roe -- from SPN and the "Champions of Freedom Award" from SPN member the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan. He was a member of the Mont Pelerin Society (a right-wing "free market" organization convened in 1947 by economist F.A. Hayek that counts among its current and former members Charles G. Koch and Thomas A. Roe).
According to the Boston Globe, "the Shamie Foundation . . . is actually the forebear of the Pioneer Institute, which took over its registration number with the secretary of state's office and the attorney general's division of public charities. [Prominent Massachusetts Republican politician Raymond] Shamie is a contributor to Pioneer." Shamie was chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party when Pioneer was founded in 1988. The Institute spent the two years between its founding and the election of Massachusetts' first Republican governor in 16 years, William F. Weld, "trash[ing] state programs," and the Globe called the organization "an agenda-setting forum for the administration" of then-Governor-elect Weld.
The Institute has focused on charter schools and education reform in Massachusetts since the early 1990s. The organization also focuses on government transparency, privatization, economic development, government spending, and healthcare.
Kochs and More: Pioneer Institute Funding
SPN think tanks do not as a general rule publicly disclose their donors. Pioneer, however, does list select donors (without specific donation amounts) in its annual reports, which show that David Koch has given at least $100,000 a year directly to the organization in most years since 1998. CMD has also discovered that David Koch gave $125,000 directly to the Massachusetts-based SPN member think tank Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research in 2007, making him (individually) the largest donor that year. A list of 2007 funders that was disclosed to the IRS was inadvertently made public. That list of funders -- featuring Pennsylvania-based Sovereign Bank, oil and gas magnate Lovett C. Peters, banker William Edgerly, retired Blue Seal Feeds CEO Dean Webster (former director of the right-wing think tank Capital Research Center), Mitt Romney's lieutenant governor Kerry Healey, and textile heir Roger Milliken in addition to David Koch -- provides an important case study in how SPN's member think tanks are funded, and by whom.
Other known funders of the Pioneer Institute include:
- Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation: $641,000 (1997-2006)
- David H. Koch Foundation: $300,000 (1995-2001)
- Jacqueline Hume Foundation: $309,500 (1999-2011)
- Smith Richardson Foundation: $50,000 (1996)
- Roe Foundation: $83,000 (1998-2011)
- Walton Family Foundation: $479,650 (1998-2001 and 2011)
- John M. Olin Foundation: $2,000 (1992)
- Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation (family foundation of Pioneer's founder, Lovett Peters, with money made in energy industry): $423,100 (1999-2011)
- Jim Stergios, Executive Director
- Mary Z. Connaughton, Director of Finance and Administration
- Joshua Archambault, Director of Health Care Policy and Program Manager, Middle Cities Initiative
- Jamie Gass, Director of the Center for School Reform
- Shawni Littlehale, Director of Pioneer’s Better Government Competition
- Erin Elefante, Director of Development
- Micaela Dawson, Director of Communications
- Brian Patterson, Development Coordinator
- Iliya Atanasov, Senior Fellow on Finance
- Charles D. Chieppo, Senior Media Fellow
- John Friar, Senior Fellow on Jobs & the Economy
- Stephen Lisauskas, Senior Fellow on Urban Revitalization
- Amy Lischko, Senior Fellow on Health Care
Board of Directors
- Stephen Fantone, Chairman
- Lucile Hicks, Vice-Chair
- C. Bruce Johnstone, Vice-Chair
- Nancy Anthony, Treasurer
- Jim Stergios, Executive Director
- Mary Z. Connaughton, Clerk & Assistant Treasurer
- Steven Akin
- Nancy Coolidge
- Stephen Fantone
- Douglas Foy
- Kerry Healey
- Ellen R. Herzfelder
- Charles C. Hewitt, III
- Lucile Hicks
- C. Bruce Johnstone
- Preston McSwain
- Alan Morse
- Beth Myers
- Mark Rickabaugh
- Diane Schmalensee
- Kristin Servison
- Brian Shortsleeve
- Patrick Wilmerding
- Emmy Lou Hewitt, honorary
- Edna Shamie, honorary
- Phyllis M. Stearns, honorary
- William B. Tyler, Chairman Emeritus
- Total Revenue: $1,255,039
- Total Expenses: $1,475,754
- Net Assets:$2,040,246
- Total Revenue: $1,255,039
- Total Expenses: $1,475,754
- Net Assets: $2,040,246
- Total Revenue: $1,372,090
- Total Expenses: $1,342,630
- Net Assets: $1,715,824
85 Devonshire Street
Boston, MA 02109
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- 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
Related PRWatch Articles
- Center for Media and Democracy, Reports Expose Extreme Pressure Groups Masquerading as Think Tanks, press release, November 13, 2013.
- Rebekah Wilce, A Reporters’ Guide to the "State Policy Network": the Right-Wing Think Tanks Spinning Disinformation and Pushing the ALEC Agenda in the States, PRWatch.org, April 4, 2013.
- Sara Jerving, ALEC and Heartland Aim to Crush Renewable Energy Standards in the States, PRWatch.org, November 27, 2012.
- Connor Gibson, Meet the Network Hiding the Koch Money: "Donors Trust" and "Donors Capital Fund", PRWatch.org, October 29, 2012.
- Brendan Fischer, Koch-Funded Mackinac Center Brings Wisconsin Act 10 Provisions to ALEC, PRWatch.org, May 2, 2012.
- 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.
- Arizona Working Families and CMD, A Reporter’s Guide to the Goldwater Institute: What Citizens, Policymakers, and Reporters Should Know, organizational report, updated November 13, 2013.
- Progress Florida and CMD, Lawmaking Under the Influence of Very Special Interests: Understand the role of Florida ‘think tanks’ in driving a Koch-fueled, ALEC-allied corporate agenda, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Maine's Majority Education Fund, Fooling Maine: How national conservative groups infiltrated Maine politics by founding and funding the Maine Heritage Policy Center, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Progress Michigan, Who's Running Michigan? The Far-Right Influence of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Who's in Charge: How Nationalized Corporate-Run Think Tanks Influence Minnesota Politics, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Progress Missouri, What Missourians Need to Know About the Show-Me Institute, organizational report, updated November 13, 2013.
- Granite State Progress, Bad Bartlett: The Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog Answer the Call of the Koch Brothers, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- ProgressOhio, Smoke Screen: The Buckeye Institute, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Keystone Progress, Think tanks or corporate lobbyist propaganda mills?, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Progress Texas, TPPF + ALEC, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- One Wisconsin Now, S is for Shill: Inside the Bradley Foundation's Attack on Public Education, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, Consider the Source, February 14, 2013.
- John R. Mashey, Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax 2, DeSmog Blog report, updated October 23, 2012, p. 74.
- Andy Kroll, The Right-Wing Network Behind the War on Unions, Mother Jones, April 25, 2011.
- 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.
- People for the American Way, State Policy Network, RightWingWatch.org, organizational resource.
- Greenpeace, Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group: State Policy Network (SPN), organizational resource.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Pioneer Institute, organizational website, accessed 2012
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Staff, organizational website, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Shamie Center for Better Government, organizational website, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Center for Economic Opportunity, organizational website, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Paul Dunphy and Mark Umi Perkings, Political Research Associates, The Pioneer Institute: Privatizing the Common Wealth, book published by research organization, July 2002.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Yvonne Abraham, Pioneer Group’s Voice Grows Stronger, Think Tank’s Influence Seen In Romney’s Plan (sub. req'd.), Boston Globe, March 17, 2003.
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Education Task Force Meeting, Spring Task Force Summit, The Westin Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, May 11, 2012, organizational meeting agenda, May 11, 2012, document obtained and released by Common Cause.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Rejection of Anti-Common Core Model Legislation a Sad End to Bizarre Process, organizational press release, November 29, 2012.
- ↑ Steve Urbon, Old foe resurfaces as law school pursues accreditation, South Coast Today, April 15, 2012.
- ↑ Farah Stockman, ROMNEY REDRAWS 'MAZE' MAP AGENCIES BRACING FOR CONSOLIDATION OF HUMAN SERVICES (sub. req'd.), Boston Globe, February 17, 2003.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, 2002 Form 990, organizational IRS filing, August 14, 2003.
- ↑ Sabrina Siddiqui, Mitt Romney's Bain Experience Failed For Massachusetts Higher Education, Huffington Post, June 6, 2012.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Erin Blake, organizational biography, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Mary Z. Connaughton, CPA, organizational biography, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Joshua Archambault, organizational biography, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Michael Levenson, Former Romney aide close to run for Senate seat, Boston Globe, February 6, 2013.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Better Government Competition, organizational website, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Steve LeBlanc, Ethics panel weighing whether board members should withdraw from charter vote (sub. req'd.), Associated Press, February 24, 2003.
- ↑ Ken Maguire, Lawsuit challenges state's charter school system (sub. req'd.), Associated Press, March 25, 2003.
- ↑ Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 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, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
- ↑ The 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. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 Joan Vennochi, Pioneer Institute, which has the ear of the new governor, emerged from the rubble of conservative think tanks (sub. req'd.), Boston Globe, December 11, 1990.
- ↑ J.M. Lawrence, Obituaries: Lovett ‘Pete’ Peters, founder of Pioneer Institute; at 97, Boston Globe, November 19, 2010.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, About: Pioneer's Staff: Lovett C. Peters, organizational website, archived by the WayBack Machine January 10, 2010.
- ↑ Mercatus Center, Charles Koch, organizational biography, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ John J. Miller, Safeguarding a Conservative Donor’s Intent: The Roe Foundation at 39, Foundation Watch, Capital Research Center publication, May 2007, accessed September 2012
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Pioneer's "Record of Achievement," organizational website, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute, Annual Reports, organizational website, accessed November 2013.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, 2007 Form 990, organizational IRS filing, April 28, 2008, Schedule B on file with CMD.
- ↑ Center for Media and Democracy, Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation 990s, review of foundation's IRS filings, 1997-2006.
- ↑ Center for American Progress Action Fund, The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right, organizational report, April 2011, p. 9.
- ↑ Center for Media and Democracy, Koch Family Foundations, review of IRS Form 990s for Koch family foundations, including the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ National Education Association, "State Policy Network Members," The Real Story Behind 'Paycheck Protection': The Hidden Link Between Anti-Worker and Anti-Public Education Initiatives: An Anatomy of the Far Right, organizational report, 1998.
- ↑ Center for Media and Democracy, Jacqueline Hume Foundation 990s, SourceWatch.org, review of foundation's IRS Form 990s, 1999-2011, accessed February 2013.
- ↑ Media Transparency, recipients by amount granted from: Smith Richardson Foundation, research website, archived by the WayBack Machine on February 24, 2009.
- ↑ Center for Media and Democracy, Roe Foundation#Forms 990, review of foundation's IRS filings, 1998-2011.
- ↑ Walton Family Foundation, 1998 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, November 11, 1999.
- ↑ Walton Family Foundation, 2000 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, November 13, 2001.
- ↑ Walton Family Foundation, 2001 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, November 12, 2002.
- ↑ Walton Family Foundation, 2011 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, November 14, 2012.
- ↑ Media Transparency, John M. Olin Foundation: Grants, research website, archived by the WayBack Machine on June 15, 2010.
- ↑ Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation, 1999 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, August 15, 2000.
- ↑ Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation, 2007 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, May 5, 2008.
- ↑ Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation, 2008 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, November 4, 2010.
- ↑ Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation, 2010 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, August 12, 2011.
- ↑ Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation, 2011 Form 990, foundation's IRS filing, November 12, 2012.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, IRS form 990, 2011. GuideStar.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
- ↑ Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
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