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American Consumer Institute

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The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research commonly known as " The American Consumer Institute" or "ACI" is a 501(c)(3) "nonprofit educational and research institute". The Institute states that it was "founded on the belief that consumers’ interests are not satisfactorily represented by the wide variety of advocacy and consumer organizations that often represent small subsets of consumers and special interests."[1] The American Consumer Institute claims on its website to use "real economic analysis in our work, not phony self-interest jargon by those claiming to represent consumer interests," but has been called an "astroturf" organization, organized by a telecom consultant to push the interests of its financial backers -- according to Lee Fang -- an internet service provider lobbying group.[2][3]

ACI is a partner of the Atlas Network[4] and an Associate Member of The State Policy Network. [5]

News and Controversies

Ties to Internet Service Providers

Much of the ACI research has been largely in the field of telecommunications. "Internet Public Policy" and "Technology" are both listed on its site as "issues" the organization covers. The Institute has been cited in articles dating back to 2006 opposing network neutrality regulation.[6] When Net Netruality started making national headlines again in 2017, Steve Pociask, President and CEO of The American Consumer Institute, penned an op-ed advocating for Title II to be rolled back -- A position which was high on the lobbying agenda of AT&T and Verizon.[7]

According to Lee Fang's Vice article, the American Consumer Institute has been partially funded since 2010 by "a foundation controlled by lobbyists from the cell phone industry, called MyWireless.org."[3]

Pociask was the Chief Economist for the Bell Atlantic Corporation,[8] which is now known as Verizon.[9]

Anne Danehy, one of the members of the board at ACI, "has worked with large corporations, using public opinion research to create positive public images."[10]

Opposition to California's Waiver from the Clean Air Act

The American Consumer Institute is credited with organizing a coalition of "11 groups, eight of which have known ties to the Koch network, and all of which are routine commenters on conservative issues" encouraging then EPA head Scott Pruitt "to call for the revocation of California’s waiver from the Clean Air Act." In their words, California's waiver "allows the state to decouple from Federal policy and impose strict emission standards on automobiles."[11] The American Consumer Institute was joined by these groups: Less Government, The Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, American Commitment, FreedomWorks, The Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, 60 Plus Association, and Frontiers of Freedom.

Core Financials

2015[12]

  • Total Revenue: $234,718
  • Total Expenses: $263,565
  • Net Assets: $192,536

2014[12]

  • Total Revenue: $363,701
  • Total Expenses: $340,191
  • Net Assets: $221,383

2013[12]

  • Total Revenue: $345,297
  • Total Expenses: $347,297
  • Net Assets: $197,684

2012[12]

  • Total Revenue: $252,360
  • Total Expenses: $256,445
  • Net Assets: $197,011

2011[12]

  • Total Revenue: $346,237
  • Total Expenses: $246,019
  • Net Assets: $201,096

2010[12]

  • Total Revenue: $100,349
  • Total Expenses: $17,165
  • Net Assets: $100,878

Funding

ACI does not disclose their funders. Through reporting it has been made clear that MyWireless.org, "a foundation controlled by lobbyists from the cell phone industry," has given at least $180,000 to ACI since 2010.[3][13]

Personnel

"Experts"

The American Consumer Institute lists the following people as "experts" on their staff[14]

Many of the "experts" also work for organizations such as Independent Institute,The Heartland Institute, The Mercatus Center, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center among others [15][16][17][18][19]

Board of Directors

Contact Information

The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research
1701 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006
Email: info@theamericanconsumer.org
Web: http://www.theamericanconsumer.org

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. American Consumer Institute about organizational website, accessed July 2018
  2. Karl Bode [The 'American Consumer Institute' Doesn't actually represent consumers http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/77491] DSL Reports, August 22, 2006
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lee Fang Cable Companies Are Astroturfing Fake Consumer Support to End Net Neutrality Vice, June 5, 2014
  4. Atlas Network ACI Organizational Website, accessed July 2018
  5. State Policy Network ACI Organizational Website, accessed July 2018
  6. Wayne Rash Institute Slams Net Neutrality Legislation eWeek.com, June 20 2006
  7. JAY RIESTENBERG Net Neutrality Foes Spent Millions In 2014 Common Cause, Nov. 13, 2014
  8. Huffington Post Steve Pociask Author Bio Contributor page, accessed July 2018
  9. FCC Verizon Bell Atlantic Corporation (BNTR) Government Resource, accessed July 2018
  10. Boston University Anne Danehy Organizational website, accessed July 2018
  11. Ben Jervy https://www.desmogblog.com/2018/04/10/koch-nichols-scott-pruitt-strip-california-waiver-regulate-auto-emissions DeSmog Blog, April 10, 2018
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Non Profit Explorer IRS 990 Tax forms ProPublica, accessed July 2018
  13. Citizen Audit MyWireless.org CitizenAudit.org LLC, accessed July 2018
  14. Our Experts, American Consumer Institute, accessed July 2018.
  15. Indepedent Institute Erwin A. Blackstone Organizational website, accessed July 2018
  16. Indepedent Institute [http://www.independent.org/aboutus/person_detail.asp?id=1395 Patricia Born] Organizational website, accessed July 2018
  17. Heartland Institute Joseph Fuhr organizational website, accessed July 2018
  18. Heartland Institute Larry Kaufmann organizational website, accessed July 2018
  19. Maine Heritage Policy Center author page organizational website, accessed July 2018

CategoSry:Industry-funded organizations