Public Interest Institute

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The Public Interest Institute (PII) is a "non-profit, non-partisan, public policy research organization located on the campus of Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa."[1] The PII researches issues "such as limiting government spending and privatization of government services" as well as "principles and methods to promote and encourage human rights, economic freedom, economic growth, and the creation of jobs... in Iowa."[2] PII is a member of the State Policy Network

Global Warming

In 2009 the institute was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's 2009 conference for climate change skeptics.[3]

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Public Interest Institute 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.[4] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[5] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[6][7] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[8]

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).[9] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[10] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[9]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[11] a conservative grant-making organization.[12]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[13] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[14] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[15] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[16] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

PII has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) through Richard Vedder, a member of their advisory board.[17] Mr. Vedder is listed as a "scholar" at the American Legislative Exchange Council[18] and is the recipient of ALEC's Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award.[19]

Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.

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.


Board of Directors

  • David M. Stanley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
  • Robert H. Solt, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer
  • Dr. Donald P. Racheter, President
  • Andrea S. Failor, Secretary
  • Charles C. Espy, Jr.
  • Richard Oberman
  • Stanley M. Howe, Director Emeritus

Academic Advisory Board

  • Dr. Richard Wagner - George Mason University, chair
  • Dr. Robert Bish - University of Victoria
  • Dr. Edgar Browning - Texas A&M
  • Dr. Richard McKenzie - University of California at Irvine
  • Dr. William Peirce - Case Western Reserve University
  • Dr. Randy Simmons - Utah State University
  • Dr. Eugenia Toma - University of Kentucky
  • Dr. Gordon Tullock - George Mason University
  • Dr. Richard Vedder - Ohio University
  • Dr. Bruce Yandle - Clemson University

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $1,119,463
  • Total Expenses: $510,401
  • Net Assets: $7,198,734


  • Total Revenue: $1,661,139
  • Total Expenses: $530,950
  • Net Assets: $6,589,672

Contact Details

600 North Jackson Street
Mount Pleasant, IA 52641

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

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  1. Public Interest Institute, "Who We Are", organizational website, accessed November 2012
  2. Public Interest Institute, "Mission,organizational website, accessed November 2012
  3. Heartland Institute, "Co-Sponsors", Heartland Institute website, March 5, 2009.
  4. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  5. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  6. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  7. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  8. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source,, October 27, 2011.
  9. 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.
  10. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  11. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  12. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  13. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  14. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  15. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  16. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  17. Public Interest Institute, "Advisory Board", organizational website, accessed November 2012
  18. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Board of Scholars", organizational website, accessed November 2012
  19. Independent Institute About Us/Awards, organizational website, accessed November 2012
  20. Public Interest Institute, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
  21. Public Interest Institute, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.

External Articles

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