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National Center for Public Policy Research

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(This article is under review and being updated.)

The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) conducts an array of operations to advance its policy and financial agenda.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

NCPRR Launches a Voter Identification Task Force

In April, the NCPRR announced that it would launch a Voter Identification Task Force after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) caved in to public pressures to dismantle their Public Safety and Elections Task Force. The Voter Identification Task Force would be used to carry forward voter ID legislation.

Through ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force corporate lobbyists and elected officials voted behind closed doors to approve "model" legislation that creates obstacles to American citizens voting through restrictive voter ID bills, as well as other damaging legislation, such as reckless gun laws that have been cited to protect violent vigilantes from being held accountable. [1]

Press Release Scolds Corporations that Dropped ALEC

NCPPR's press release scolds the 11 corporations, that had announced they had dropped out of ALEC, which has come under intense scrutiny as a result of the Center for Media and Democracy's ALEC Exposed investigation and the efforts CMD, Color of Change, Common Cause, People of the American Way, Progress Now!, and other groups as well as Daily Kos bloggers. A growing number of concerned citizens are speaking up about ALEC across the country.

NCPPR even set up an email for corporations to reach out to if they "regret" their decision to cut ties with ALEC under the theme "we are not yellow." NCPPR asserts that corporations have succumbed to the "left-wing" which is supposedly using a "trotskyite strategy of making relentless demand-after-demand." [2]

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.


Controversies regarding the NCPPR

"Fright Mail" Firm

NCPPR has been criticized for bombarding senior citizens with "fright mail." According to an article by Diane Walsh of the San Francisco Examiner, NCPPR contracts out its mailing of repetitive and frightening letters to the right-wing direct mail mill, Response Dynamics.[3] NCPPR's leader Amy Moritz Ridenour admitted to an investigative reporter that "her organization sent donors up to a dozen major pitches a month. The appeals are sent on four different letterheads. She said anyone receiving more than a dozen solicitations in a month probably was on mailing lists the National Center has "rented" from other organizations, which she said were outside her control."[4]

According to comments on Guidestar, adult children of senior citizens targeted by NCPPR are not happy with the group's tactics. One commentor asserted "Amy R. is the Queen of Scare Mail. My father receives 5-15 letters from them per day under four different names (maybe more I hadn't realized the association). He started giving to them in 2009 and gave them thousands of dollars little by little. When I found out he was spending all his money, I started tracking his junk mail and putting him on a charity budget."[5]. That commentor added that: "In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are... Children of the elderly who find out what they are doing" and "They are Parasites feeding off the elderly!"[6] Another commentor in 2010 urged fellow citizens to "Be VERY careful before giving money to this organization. You will be swamped by mail and they do not honor requests to be removed from mailing lists."[7] Yet another commentor stated "the National Center for Public Policy Research has several 'projects' such as The National Retirement Security Task Force, etc. These projects simply acquire the names of older people and mail them requests for donations. These requests are sent with letters intended to scare the recipient into donating. Often these requests are sent via Certified Mail in the hope that the recipient will think the contents more important." NCPPR was cited by three other anonymous commentors for praise for supposedly shedding light on government corruption.

Distributing Millions in Charitable Donations as Directed by Jack Abramoff

According to a U.S. Senate investigation of the financial dealings and influence peddling of disgraced right-wing lobbyist Jack Abramoff, NCPPR's Amy Ridenour directed money received from tribes and others, at Abramoff's direction, and distributed it to other "charities," again at his direction.[8]. Specifically, Ridenhour admitted that in 2002 she received a one million dollar gift from the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, who had been paying Abramoff to help secure its casino business, and also received $1.5 million from Abramoff's law firm, Greenburg Traurig. At Abramoff's direction, she gave $700,000 of this money to one of Jack Abramoff's "charities" called the "Capitol Athletic Foundation" (CAF). [9] CAF reportedly used money it received from a variety of sources not to help inner city kids but to fund luxury golf trips for Members of Congress, like Bob Ney, and to buy sniper scopes and camouflage for West Bank settlers in Israel, among other things. Ridenour also directed $1.275 million to received at another Abramoff entity called "Kaygold, LLC," whose address was listed as her board member, Abramoff's. [10] Ridenour testified that she thought Kaygold was controlled by Abramoff's colleague Michael "Sean" Scanlon, Congressman Tom DeLay's former communications director, who later pleaded guilty to the criminal charge of conspiracy to bribe public officials. She also gave $500,000 to Scanlon's "Capital Campaign Strategies." [11] Abramoff was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy, and he resigned from the board of NCPPR. Ridenour was not charged with a crime for distributing tax-deductible donations NCPPR's received to entities controlled by Abramoff and his associates.

Funding Sources

Between 1998 and 2008, NCPPR received $445,000 in funding from ExxonMobil. [12]

NCPPR has also received funding from the following sources:[13]

Issue Positions

Environment/Global warming denial

The NCPPR retains a "firm belief that private owners are the best stewards of the environment" and "advocates private, free market solutions to today's environmental challenges."[14] The Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Task Force regularly publishes articles detailing the views of the center on various environmental policy issues. They deny the that a scientific consensus exists on the role of humans in global warming [15] and question the credibility of scientists that have publicly defended the science on global warming.[16] Global warming has been described by the NCPPR as an "unproven premise" and as a science that "is not settled." NCPPR analyst Amy Rideenour even went so far as to claim that global warming is a religion:

"The unquestioned adherence to the theory of Global Warming bears all the markings of what traditionally would be recognized as a religion. Complete with sin (the emitting of carbon dioxide), scriptures (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports), commandments (drive a Prius, use Compact Florescent Light bulbs, do not eat meat, etc.), indulgences (carbon offsets), proselytism and prophets (Al Gore), priests (scientists), prophecy and apocalypse (floods, hurricanes, dead polar bears), infidels (Warming skeptics), and salvation (the halting of carbon-emitting industrial progress), the religion of Global Warming fits the mold. "[17]

GroupSnoop

In October 2011 NCPPR launched GroupSnoop, a project that purports "to provide a candid, documented analysis of the work and impact of the nation’s most influential public policy-oriented non-profits." [18] NCPPR uses the site to try to attack and discredit organizations which do not promote its agenda, some of which include the Center for American Progress, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Center for Media & Democracy. [19]

Historical information

NCPPR began operations in 1982. Its website states that the organization "helped change public opinion through vocal national campaigns aimed at supporting Reagan administration initiatives concerning the USSR, arms control, Central America and human rights." Its more recent focus is on environmental policies; it has stated that "private owners are the best stewards of the environment." The organization also promotes "regulatory horror stories" to fight environmental protection policies like the Endangered Species Act.[20] The NCPPR reported a total revenue in 2009 of $11.6 million.[21]

Contact information

National Center for Public Policy Research
501 Capitol Court NE
Washington DC 20002
Phone: (202) 543-4110
Fax: (202) 543-5975
Email: info@nationalcenter.org
URL: http://www.nationalcenter.org/

SourceWatch resources

External resources

External articles

References

  1. Lisa Graves, Right-Wing Operatives Take Up ALEC's Voter Suppression Agenda, PR Watch, April 19, 2012
  2. Lisa Graves, Right-Wing Operatives Take Up ALEC's Voter Suppression Agenda, PR Watch, April 19, 2012
  3. Diane Walsh, "The fear merchants: 'Fright mail' fund-raisers targeting elderly with scare tactics?," San Francisco Examiner (Feb. 8, 1998), available at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1998/02/08/NEWS3642.dtl#ixzz1bH7jvahA
  4. Id.
  5. Guidestar.org, available at http://www2.guidestar.org/organizations/52-1226614/national-center-public-policy-research.aspx
  6. Id.
  7. Id.
  8. U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, "Gimme Five--Investigation of Tribal Lobbying Matters," (hereinafter U.S. Senate Investigation of Jack Abramoff and Associates), pp. 299-305 (June 22, 2006) (pdf uploaded and available here; See also More Details on Abramoff's relationship with Ridenhour and NCPPR, available here)
  9. U.S. Senate Investigation of Jack Abramoff and Associates, pp. 299-305.
  10. U.S. Senate Investigation of Jack Abramoff and Associates, pp. 299-305
  11. U.S. Senate Investigation of Jack Abramoff and Associates, pp. 299-305
  12. Exxon Secrets Factsheet, A Greenpeace Project accessed October 28 2011
  13. Media Matters Action Network accessed October 28, 2011
  14. [1] accessed October 28, 2011
  15. Spot the Bias in NY Times Global Warming Hearing Story Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog, May 10, 2011, accessed October 28, 2011
  16. Climate of Confusion: Global Warming "Science" a Blizzard of Contradictions Dana Joel Gattuso, National Policy Analysis, February 2010, accessed October 28, 2010
  17. The Church of Global Warming Amy Ridneour, National Center Blog, December 16, 2009, accessed October 28, 2011
  18. GroupSnoop.org Launches to Monitor Non-Profits NCPPR Press Release, October 16, 2011, accessed October 28, 2011
  19. [2] accessed October 28, 2011
  20. National Center for Public Policy Research About Us, organizational web page, accessed January 25, 2012
  21. National Center for Public Policy Research/Guidestar 2009 IRS Form 990, Government reporting form, accessed January 25, 2012