Wisconsin Policy Research Institute

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

Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, or WPRI, is a conservative, free market think tank founded in 1987 and based in Hartland, Wisconsin. It calls itself "Wisconsin's Free Market Think Tank"[1] and says it is "guided by a belief that competitive free markets, limited government, private initiative, and personal responsibility are essential to our democratic way of life."[1] It publishes WI Magazine and WPRI Reports.

WPRI is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a collection of state-based conservative think tanks.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) through Wisconsin state senator Leah Vukmir, who is an ALEC board member[2] and the Public Chair of the ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force.[3] Vukmir has been a Wisconsin state senator representing the 5th district since 2011. Prior to serving in the Wisconsin Senate, Sen. Vukmir was a representative in the Wisconsin Assembly for Wisconsin's 14th assembly district from 2002-2011. Sen. Vukmir has been a contributing author as well as an Institute Research Fellow at WPRI.[4][5]

The WPRI is also tied to ALEC through its membership with the State Policy Network (SPN), which is an ALEC member. Please see the SourceWatch article on 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 ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.


The Institute has played a prominent role in the development of Wisonsin's school voucher program and has formulated recommendations for state prison policy.[6]

The Institute partnered with the Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) on a report critiquing the recommendations from a 2007 state clean energy task force, including the state's renewable portfolio standards (RPS).


The Bradley Foundation gave the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute a $2.8 million start-up grant in 1987, and by 2010 it had given WPRI a total of $16.5 million.[7] Between 2001 and 2010, WPRI received $7 million from the foundation.[8]

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $695,036
  • Total Expenses: $942,350
  • Net Assets: $2,146,242


  • Total Revenue: $1,821,093.00
  • Total Expenses: $1,748,844.00
  • Net Assets: $2,393,556.00


  • Total Revenue: $884,047.00
  • Total Expenses: $670,575.00
  • Net Assets: $2,321,307.00


Board of Directors

As of April 2013:[12]

  • James R. Klauser, Chairman (former senior vice president, Wisconsin Energy Corporation; Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration from 1986-1996 under Governor Tommy Thompson and Special Counsel to the Governor from 1994 to 1996; Board of Regents, Milwaukee school of Engineering; Board of Trustees, Carthage College)
  • David Baumgarten (President, Bank Mutual; former Executive Vice President, Associated Banc-Corp; former President, Southeast Wisconsin Associated Bank; former President and CEO, US Bank, Wisconsin; former President and CEO, US Bank, Colorado; and Senior Vice President, First Bank, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Board of Directors, Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Milwaukee Redevelopment Corporation, Wisconsin Procurement Institute, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, the Greater Milwaukee Committee and Athletes for Youth)
  • Catherine C. Dellin (President, Camp 5 Museum Foundation, Laona, Wisconsin)
  • Thomas J. Howatt (Chairman of the Board of Directors and former President and CEO, Wausau Paper Corporation; former Chairman, Wisconsin Paper Council; Dean’s Advisory Council, Purdue University Krannert School of Management; Board of Governors, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement; Chicago Advisory Board, FM Global; Board of Directors, M&I First American Bank)
  • Michael T. Jones (retired from MillerCoors in August of 2012; Board of Directors, North Shore Bank)
  • David J. Lubar (President, Lubar & Co.; Boards of Directors, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Marshall & Ilsley Corp., and the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team; Board member, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Foundation, University School of Milwaukee, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Froedtert & Community Health System, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, and United Way of Greater Milwaukee)
  • Maureen Oster (President, MBO Advisors, LLC (merged with Cleary Gull Inc. in 2003); Board of Directors, Cleary Gull Holdings; Officer, Lipper Advisory Services; Advisor, L&S Partners I, LLC; former President and Director, Heritage Investment Advisors, Inc. and the Newton Funds (acquired by Marshall & Ilsley Corp. in 1985); Director and member of the Executive Committee, No Load Mutual Fund Association; Trustee, State of Wisconsin Investment Board (one of America’s largest public pension funds); Director, Milwaukee Insurance (now part of Unitrin); Trustee, Cardinal Stritch University; former President and Director, Milwaukee Investment Analysts Society)
  • 'Timothy Sheehy (President, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce; former Legislative Assistant to U.S. Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.; Chairman of the Board, Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation; Board member, School Choice Wisconsin)
  • Gerald Whitburn (Chairman, President and CEO, Church Mutual Insurance Company; Board member and former Chairman, Property Casualty Insurers Association of American (PCI); Board member and Trustee, American Institute for Charter Property Casualty Underwriters (AICPCU); Director, Natural Resources Foundation; former Secretary, Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services; former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Wisconsin (1991-1995) and Labor Secretary (1989-1991))
  • Edward Zore (President and CEO, Northwestern Mutual; Board member, Manpower Inc.; Board member, American Council of Life Insurers; Member, Financial Services Roundtable; Advisory Board, The American College Center for Ethics in Financial Services; Conference Board and Advisory Board, Yale Center for Corporate Governance and Performance)
  • Ave Bie (Partner, Quarles & Brady; former Chairwoman, Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin; former Deputy Secretary, Department of Corrections, Deputy Secretary, Department of Regulation and Licensing and Director of Appointments for the Office of the Governor; President of the Board of Trustees, Edgewood Campus School; Board member and executive committee, United Way of Dane County; Board member, St. Mary’s Foundation; Board of Directors, Green Bay Packers)
  • Jon Hammes (Managing Partner, Hammes Company; Director, Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Foundation, the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Junior Achievement; Board member, Greater Milwaukee Committee and WiCab, Inc.)
  • George Lightbourn, President (former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration; Chairman, Monona Community Development Authority; Board member, WCA Services, Inc.)


As of April 2013:[12]

  • Christian Schneider
  • Sammis White, Ph.D.
  • David Dodenhoff, Ph.D. (former staffer, Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull)
  • Ben Artz

Contact Information

P.O. Box 382
Hartland, WI 53029
Phone: (262) 367-9940
Web Contact Form: http://wpri.org/pages/contact.html
Web Site: http://wpri.org/

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

Related PRWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, "About WPRI", organizational website, accessed September 2012.
  2. American Legislative Exchange Council, "ALEC Board of Directors", organizational website, accessed September 2012.
  3. American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC Health and Human Services, organizational website, accessed September 2012.
  4. Sen. Leah Vukmir, About Leah Vukmir, campaign website, accessed September 2012.
  5. Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, WPRI Reports by Author, organizational website, accessed September 2012.
  6. Media Transpareny: Receipt Grants: Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Inc.. Retrieved on 2008-12-02.
  7. Barbara Miner, Wisconsin's Progressive Tradition at Stake in the Recall Election, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, May 14, 2012.
  8. Daniel Bice, Bill Glauber, and Ben Poston, From local roots, Bradley Foundation builds conservative empire, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 28, 2011.
  9. Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, IRS 2011 Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 8, 2012.
  10. Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
  11. Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, About, organizational website, accessed April 2013.