Show-Me Institute

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

The Show-Me Institute (SMI) is a Missouri-based think tank that describes itself as a nonpartisan "research and educational institute dedicated to improving the quality of life for all citizens of Missouri."[1] However, it is led by wealthy conservatives and Republican campaign staffers.[2] It was founded in 2005 by billionaire right-wing political donor Rex Sinquefield.[3] SMI is a state think tank member of the State Policy Network (SPN).

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Former Show-Me Institute policy analyst Christine Harbin[4] went on to become a research manager at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[5] (She then went on to become a federal policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity.)[4] SPN, to which the Show-Me Institute belongs, is also an ALEC member.[6]

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.

Pushing the ALEC Agenda

Progress Missouri notes in its report, "What Missourians Need to Know About the Show-Me Institute," that the Show-Me Institute is not the non-partisan think tank it claims to be, but rather a "belief tank" pushing a right-wing agenda in line with the American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity. SMI's work complements the "issue campaigns" of its founder, Rex Sinquefield, in that its output "intentionally supports Sinquefield's larger goals of enacting regressive tax policy in Missouri and other states, privatizing public education and removing local control of local schools with statewide evaluation and hiring practices." SMI overlaps with ALEC and Americans for Prosperity in the following issues:[2]

  • Paycheck "protection" to make it difficult for employees to fund unions
  • Privatizing public education through vouchers and charter schools
  • Teacher tenure reform
  • Healthcare reform (against the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expsansion)
  • Opposition to minimum wage laws/raising the minimum wage
  • Pension reform for public employees (calling for a shift from defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans)[2]

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Show-Me 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.[7] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[8] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[9][10] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[11]

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).[12] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[13] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[12]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[14] a conservative grant-making organization.[15]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[16] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[17] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[18] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[19] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

Staff Ties to Ideological and Partisan Campaign Efforts

The Progress Missouri report also mentions campaign finance records show SMI staffers work directly for Republican and ideological campaign efforts, and have ties to big business[2]:

  • Rick Edlund, SMI's Communication's Director, has worked as a paid consultant for Cole McNary's bid for Treasurer in 2012, Sarah Steelman's U.S. Senate campaign, and for the House Republican Campaign Committee in 2010.[2] He also worked on former Senator Jim Talent's 2000 campaign.[2]
  • Patrick Tuohey, SMI's "Western Missouri Field Manager," also worked for Steelman's campaign, as press secretary, and was paid by Representative Jay Barnes' campaign in 2012. He is the owner of Market and Communications Research, Inc. (Marcom), whose clients include Mobil, Monsanto, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Eli Lilly
  • Brenda Talent, SMI's Executive Director, is the the spouse of Jim Talent, the former Republican Senator and Congressman.
  • Christine Harbin, former SMI policy analyst, went on to become a research manager at ALEC and a federal policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity
  • Paul Smith, SMI Development Assistant, worked as field director for Ted Cruz's U.S. Senate campaign in Texas.

In addition, the Show-Me Institute's Chief Economist, Joseph Haslag, has been routinely paid to generate industry-friendly studies in his position as the Kenneth Lay Chair is Economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia, according to campaign finance records.[2]


On its website the think tank states that "the Institute's board of directors funds the basic operations of the Show-Me Institute. In addition, we seek financial support from individuals, foundations, and corporations who share our vision for the state and want to improve the quality of the public debate. To preserve our independence, we accept no government funding, and we do not perform contract work."[1]

In its 2006 annual report, the Cato Institute stated that it provided a grant of $50,000 to the Show-Me Institute.[20]

The State Policy Network gave $87,951.49 to the Show Me Institute in 2007, according to its 2007 990 tax form.

According to a report by Progress Missouri, the Show-Me Institute's other right-wing donors include the Koch-funded Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, the Bradley Foundation, the Roe Foundation, and the Koch's Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation and Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.[2]


Board of Directors

As of May 2013:[21]

  • Crosby Kemper III, Chairman of the Board
  • Rex Sinquefield, President
  • Kevin Short, Vice Chairman of the Board
  • W. Bevis Schock, Secretary
  • Joseph Forshaw, Treasurer
  • Stephen F. Brauer
  • James G. Forsyth III
  • Louis Griesemer
  • Hon. Robert M. Heller
  • Michael Podgursky
  • Gerald A. Reynolds
  • Steve Trulaske


As of May 2013:[22]

  • Rick Edlund, Communications Director
  • Patrick Ishmael, Policy Analyst
  • Elizabeth Lanier-Shipp, Director of Development
  • Michael Rathbone, Policy Researcher
  • Susan E. Sagarra, Editor
  • James V. Shuls, Education Policy Analyst
  • Josh Smith, Website and Data Manager
  • Paul Smith, Development Assistant
  • David Stokes, Policy Analyst
  • Brenda Talent, Executive Director
  • Patrick Tuohey, Western Missouri Field Manager
  • Andrew B. Wilson, Fellow

Former staff include:

  • Jennifer Bumb, Office Manager
  • Kacie Galbraith, Research Assistant


As of May 2013:[23]

  • Michele Boldrin, Research Fellow - Professor and Chair of Economics, Washington University
  • Susan K. Feigenbaum, Research Fellow - Professor of Economics, University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Beverly Gossage, Research Fellow
  • Rik W. Hafer, Research Fellow - Professor of Economics and Finance, Southern Illinois University
  • Joseph Haslag, Chief Economist - Kenneth Lay Chair in Economics, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Michael Podgursky, Director - Professor of Economics, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • David C. Rose, Research Fellow - Professor and Chair of Economics, University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Daniel Thorton, Research Fellow - Vice President and economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • Howard Wall, Research Fellow - Director of the Institute for the Study of Economics and the Environment (ISEE) at Lindenwood University
  • Bonnie Wilson, Research Fellow - Associate Professor of Economics at Saint Louis University

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $1,434,730
  • Total Expenses: $1,383,822
  • Net Assets: $468,189


  • Total Revenue: $1,695,988
  • Total Expenses: $1,574,040
  • Net Assets: $417,281


  • Total Revenue: $1,931,999
  • Total Expenses: $1,764,858
  • Net Assets: $295,333

Contact Details

Show-Me Institute
4512 West Pine Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63108

Phone: (314) 454-0647
Fax: (314) 454-0667
E-mail: info AT

Articles and Resources

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External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Show Me Institute, About, organizational website, accessed March 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Progress Missouri, What Missourians Need to Know About the Show-Me Institute, organizational report, accessed May 2013.
  3. Naomi Schaefer Riley, Meet One of the Super-PAC Men, Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Christine Harbin, LinkedIn, online career profile, accessed September 2012
  5. Christine Harbin, Show-Me Institute, Ms. Harbin Goes to Washington, organizational blog post, May 31, 2011
  6. American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 4, 2011
  7. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  8. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  9. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  10. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  11. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source,, October 27, 2011.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  13. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  14. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  15. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  16. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  17. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  18. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  19. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  20. Cato Institute, 2006 Annual Report, pages 19-23.
  21. Show-Me Institute, "Board of Directors", organizational website, accessed May 2013
  22. Show-Me Institute, "Staff", organizational website, accessed May 2013
  23. Show-Me Institute, "Scholars", organizational website, accessed May 2013
  24. Show-Me Institute, IRS form 990, 2011. GuideStar.
  25. Show-Me Institute, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
  26. Show-Me Institute, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
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