Texas Public Policy Foundation
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
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The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) is a conservative think tank founded in 1989 by James R. Leininger. It is a member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN) and is based in Austin, Texas. It has ties to Texas Governor and former presidential candidate Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, and many other powerful politicians.
According to the TPPF's website, its mission "is to promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas and the nation by educating and affecting policymakers and the Texas public policy debate with academically sound research and outreach."
But according to critics, TPPF's research and advocacy is influenced by donations from a relatively small group of major corporations. Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, told the Texas Observer, “Most think tanks work for their funders and TPPF’s donors are a Who’s Who of Texas polluters, giant utilities and big insurance companies. TPPF is thinking the way its donors want it to think.”
TPPF's "laissez-faire bent and championing of big-business agendas (tort reform, tax cuts, deregulation) [have] created wealthy allies," as noted by the Texas Observer. The newspaper spoke with a former TPPF vice president, who described the organization's corporate fundraising strategy this way:
- "Melinda Hasting -- who served as the foundation’s vice president from 1996 to 1998 but has since broken with the conservative movement -- says one fundraising tactic involved approaching corporations, wealthy businessmen, and corporate-funded foundations with a pitch. Hasting (formerly Melinda Wheatley) describes it: 'We think this is beneficial to your industry and would you consider providing us with a non-profit contribution. … Here’s the timeline for the completion of the research; the parameters of the research are this; we expect it will result in some savings or outsourcing.'"
The TPPF's 2005 annual report states that the groups budget was $1,759,602 million, an almost 30% increase on its 2004 budget. Individual contributors accounted for just over half the contributions, unspecified corporations $259,000 or 15% with the remainder from unspecified foundations.
- Armstrong Foundation
- Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
- Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation
- Jaquelin Hume Foundation
- JM Foundation
- Roe Foundation
- Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation
Koch Money and Mystery Slush Funds: Funders of SPN Member Think Tanks
In 2012, a list of 2010 funders of TPPF that was disclosed to the IRS was inadvertently made public. The list of funders revealed is an important case study in how SPN's member think tanks are funded, and by whom. Koch Industries, for example, gave $159,834 directly to TPPF, in addition to $69,788.61 from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, which is a Koch Family Foundation. SPN itself gave TPPF $49,306.90, but what's more, Tracie Sharp, SPN's executive director, was the contact person for an additional $495,000. These two grants, for $300,000 and $195,000, were listed as being received from the "State Think Tank Fund" and the "Government Transparency Fund," respectively -- two funds about which virtually nothing is known.
- Total Revenue: $5,756,074.00
- Total Expenses:$4,948,598.00
- Net Assets: $4,235,880.00
- Total Revenue: $4,674,836.00
- Total Expenses: $3,390,188.00
- Net Assets: $3,428,404.00
- Total Revenue: $3,223,804.00
- Total Expenses: $3,026,663.00
- Net Assets: $2,143,756.00
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The Texas Public Policy Foundation hosts 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.
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has been very active in the American Legislative Exchange Council. TPPF was a member of the now defunct Public Safety and Elections Task Force, and has been an ardent defender of ALEC activities In May 2012, Wendy Lee Gramm, the Foundation’s chairman of the board, and Brooke Rollins, its president and chief executive officer, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “Why the Left Wants to Blacklist ALEC,” in defense of the organization.
TPPF is a member of several other ALEC task forces. Executive Director, Arlene Wohlgemuth, is a member of the Health and Human Services Task Force where she has sponsored model legislation (the "Health Professional Modernization Act" and the "Health Care Compact Act"). Mario Loyola, director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies is a member of the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force where is also sponsored model legislation (the "Regional Air Quality Interstate Compact")
Marc Levin, who is the director of the Center for Effective Justice for TPPF, is a member of the Civil Justice Task Force, where he is the private chair of the "Overcriminalization Subcommittee." Previously, Levin was a member of the Public Safety and Elections Task Force where he sponsored several pieces of model legislation, including the “Resolution in Support of Victim Offender Mediation,” the “Criminal Intent Protection Act,” the “Treating Accused Persons Fairly Act,” the “Civil Liability Relief for Employers Hiring Ex-Offenders Act,” the “Resolution on the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act,” the “Provisional Licenses for Ex-Offenders Act,” the “Juvenile Offender Performance Incentive Funding Act,” and the “Resolution on Transparency and Accountability in Criminal Law.”
SPN, of which TPPF is a prominent member, has deep ties to ALEC. Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.
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.
Board of Directors
- Brooke L. Rollins (President)
- William A. McMinn (Chairman)
- Wendy Gramm, Chairman Emeritus; Distinguisheed Scholar, Mercatus Center, George Mason University
- James R. Leininger, Founder, Former CEO and Chair, Kinetic Concepts,
- Tim Dunn, Vice Chairman; CEO CrownQuest Operating
- Ernest Angelo, Treasurer; Managing Partner, Discovery Exploration
- Phil D. Adams, Owner Phil Adams Company
- Ramiro Galindo, Founder & CEO, R.A. Galindo
- Bill Jones, Vinson & Elkins
- Dale Laine, Laine Strategy Group
- Tim Lyles
- Vance C. Miller, Chairman, President & CEO Henry. S. Miller Companies
- John L. Nau, III, Silver Eagle Distributors
- Brenda Pejovich, Founder and Former CEO Pejovich & Assoc
- Jeff Sandefer, Sandefer Capital Partners
- Fritz Steiger, Founder and Former President TPPF
- Michael Stevens, Chairmen and CEO, Michael Stevens Interests
- John Barrett
- Michael Bond
- Patrick Brockett
- H. Sterling Burnett
- Wendell Cox
- Robert W. Crandall
- Jerry Ellig
- Timothy J. Gronberg, Ph.D.
- Christopher Hammons
- Eric Hanushek
- David A. Hartman
- Devon M. Herrick
- Milton Holloway
- Ronald A. Kaiser
- Matthew Ladner
- Maurice P. McTigue
- Haavi Morreim
- Grover Norquist
- Randal O'Toole
- John Pisciotta
- Nat Shapo
- James C. Smith
- Ronald Trowbridge
- David G. Tuerck
- Richard Vedder, Ph.D.
- Bob Williams
- Patrick Wolf
- Brooke Rollins President
- Michael Quinn Sullivan Vice President
- Chris Patterson Director of Research
- Byron Schlomach Chief Economist
- Mary Katherine Stout Health Care Policy Analyst
- Bill Peacock Economic Freedom Policy Analyst
- Marc Levin Director, Center for Effective Justice
- Shari Hanrahan Director of Development
- Talmadge Helfin
- Nancy Druart Events, Publications & Marketing Manager
- Nathan Thompson, Director of Operations
- Arlene Wohlgemuth
900 Congress Ave., Ste. 400
Austin, TX 78701
Email: info AT TexasPolicy.com
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
- 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 and Arizona Working Families, A Reporter’s Guide to the Goldwater Institute: What Citizens, Policymakers, and Reporters Should Know, organizational report, March 14, 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.
- "Perry, staff took Bahamas trip paid for by donors", Associated Press, 24 February 2004
- Forrest Wilder, Revealed: The Corporations and Billionaires that Fund the Texas Public Policy Foundation, The Texas Observer, August 24, 2012.
- Abby Rapoport, Education Inc. - How private companies are profiting from Texas public schools., The Texas Observer, September 6, 2011. "...students and parents must now contend with a business-education complex in which industries perpetuate ideologies, and ideologies keep industries afloat."
- S.C. GWYNNE and GARY JACOBSON, Entrepreneur and Perry friend puts Texas at center of higher education firestorm, Dallas Morning News, June 25, 2011.
- Paul J. Weber, AP, Senate Republicans want to tap state piggy bank, Austin American Statesman, April 11, 2013.
- Bill King, Perry waging a war over higher education, Houston Chronicle, January 16, 2013.
- Valerie Strauss, Why U. of Texas academics blasted Gov. Rick Perry, The Washington Post, August 29, 2011.
- Nick Anderson, Head of major university group weighs in on U-Va., The Washington Post, October 25, 2012.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Forrest Wilder, Revealed: The Corporations and Billionaires that Fund the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Observer, August 24, 2012.
- ↑ Texas Public Policy Foundation. "About", organizational website, accessed December 2012.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Forrest Wilder and Abby Rapoport, The Brains Behind the Curtain, Texas Observer, November 30, 2011, archived by the Wayback Machine January 15, 2013.
- ↑ Texas Public Policy Foundation "2005 Annual Report"
- ↑ Forrest Wilder, Revealed: The Corporations and Billionaires that Fund the Texas Public Policy Foundation, TPPF Donor List, Texas Observer, August 24, 2012.
- ↑ Texas Public Policy Foundation, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
- ↑ Texas Public Policy Foundation, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
- ↑ Texas Public Policy Foundation, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 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.
- ↑ Texas Public Policy Foundation. "Texas Public Policy Foundation Leaders Stand with the American Legislative Exchange Council", organizational website, accessed December 2012
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Health and Human Services Task Force meeting agenda and materials, June 30, 2011, on file with CMD
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force meeting agenda and materials, March 31, 2011, on file with CMD
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Civil Justice Task Force meeting agenda and materials, October 27, 2011, on file with CMD
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Public Safety and Elections Task Force meeting agenda and materials, October 27, 2010, on file with CMD
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Public Safety and Elections Task Force meeting agenda and materials, March 31, 2011, on file with CMD
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Public Safety and Elections Task Force meeting agenda and materials, April 6, 2012, on file with CMD
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force meeting agenda and materials, June 30, 2011, on file with CMD