Rio Grande Foundation

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Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.

The Rio Grande Foundation (RGF) describes itself as a "New Mexico based free market research and educational organization dedicated to the study of public policy."[1] It is a state think tank member of the State Policy Network.


In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute stated that it provided a grant of $50,000 to the Rio Grande Foundation.[2]

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Rio Grande Foundation founded New Mexico Watchdog. The Rio Grande Foundation 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.[3] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[4] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[5][6] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[7]

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).[8] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[9] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[8]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[10] a conservative grant-making organization.[11]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[12] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[13] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[14] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[15] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

The Rio Grande Foundation has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council through its founder, Hal Stratton. Stratton, now a private lawyer, was once a member of the New Mexico legislature and later served as New Mexico Attorney General and Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under George Bush.[16] He received the ALEC Legislator of the Year award in 1981.[17][16]

RGF also hosted director of the ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force, Christie Herrera, at an event in Albuquerque in 2009.[18].

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

  • Paul Gessing, President
  • Ben Alaimo-Monson, Secretary
  • Victor S. Bruno, Treasurer
  • Peter Howley
  • Elisabeth Keen
  • Tom Mullins
  • Jack Swickard
  • Doug Turner
  • Deane Waldman


Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $363,912
  • Total Expenses: $342,854
  • Net Assets: $66,509


  • Total Revenue: $450,785
  • Total Expenses: $421,834
  • Net Assets: $45,451


  • Total Revenue: $262,253
  • Total Expenses: $442,884
  • Net Assets: $16,500

Contact Details

P.O. Box 40336
Albuquerque, NM 87196
Phone: 505-264-6090

Articles and Resources


  1. "Rio Grande Foundation", accessed, March 2008.
  2. Cato Institute, 2006 Annual Report, pages 19-23.
  3. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  4. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  5. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  6. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  7. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source,, October 27, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  9. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  10. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  11. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  12. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  13. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  14. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  15. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "BHFS People: Hal Stratton", organizational website, accessed November 2012
  17. "LinkedIn Public Profile: Hal Stratton", accessed November 2012
  18. Free Liberal "Health Care Policy Expert to Discuss State, National Reforms at Albuquerque Event", 2 March 2009
  19. Rio Grande Foundation, IRS form 990, 2011. GuideStar.
  20. Rio Grande Foundation, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
  21. Rio Grande Foundation, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.

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