Benjamin Rush Institute
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
The Benjamin Rush Institute (BRI) is a right-wing 501(c)3 "think tank" based in Half Moon Bay, California and is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN). BRI has a presence on a number of university medical school campuses in the U.S. The conservative organization's "student leaders" schedule lectures and discussions aimed at promoting their free market views on U.S. health care policy and limited government.
BRI's mission is to "Promote solutions that protect the doctor-patient relationship as the primary means of delivering quality medical care, empowered by a robust free enterprise system, which fosters innovation and reduces costs." To accomplish their mission, the Benjamin Rush Institute aims to:
- Establish BRI Chapters and Affiliates throughout the United States, with a focus on reaching medical students;
- Provide educational debates, lectures, events and resources emphasizing the essential role of the doctor-patient relationship and free enterprise for ensuring optimal patient outcomes at affordable prices;
- Equip medical professionals with the knowledge and skills to be effective ambassadors for freedom in medicine.
State Policy Network
SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of January 2021, SPN's membership totals 163. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.
In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"
A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.
The Benjamin Rush Institue has received funding from the right-wing grant-making Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation:
- $30,000 in 2015
- $40,000 in 2014
- $40,000 to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy to support program activities of BRI in 2013
- $20,000 to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy to support program activities of BRI in 2012
- $20,000 to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy to support program activities of BRI in 2011
- Total Revenue: $241,145
- Total Expenses: $380,220
- Net Assets: $202,839
- Total Revenue: $571,316
- Total Expenses: $232,441
- Net Assets: $338,875
BRI's Board of Directors as of December 13, 2016:
- Sally Pipes, Founder and Chair
- Neil B. Minkoff
- Jan Breslow
- Richard Armstrong
- Robert Hertzka
- Juliette Madirgal-Dersch
- Beth Haynes, Executive Director
- Charlotte Monte, Programs and Marketing
According to it's website, the Benjamin Rush Institute has a presence on the following university medical school campuses:
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences — Washington, DC
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai — NYC, NY
- Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine — Indianapolis, IN
- McGovern Medical School — University of Texas, Houston
- Medical College of Wisconsin — Milwaukee, WI
- Medical College of Georgia — Augusta, GA
- Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OUHCOM) — Athens, OH
- Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OUHCOM) — Dublin, OH
- Rosalind Franklin University — Chicago, IL
- St. Louis University School of Medicine — Saint Louis, MO
- SUNY Downstate College of Medicine — New York, NY
- Stony Brook Medical School — Stony Brook, NY
- The Ohio State University College of Medicine — Columbus, OH
- University of Alabama School of Medicine — Birmingham, AL
- University of California School of Medicine — Irvine, CA
- University of California School of Medicine — San Diego, CA
- University of Louisville School of Medicine — Louisville, KY
- University of Ibadan — Oyo State, Nigeria
- Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Chapters exploring development:
- Loma Linda School of Medicine
- University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry
- University of Delaware, Zachary Howell firstname.lastname@example.org
- Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Colten Philpott email@example.com
- Rowan University
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 46-1848302
Benjamin Rush Institute
PO Box 3113
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed December 13, 2016.
- Benjamin Rush Institute, About, organizational website, accessed December 13, 2016.
- David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
- Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- Benjamin Rush Institute, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 17, 2015.
- Benjamin Rush Institute, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, December 18, 2014.
- Benjamin Rush Institute, Leadership, organizational website, accessed December 13, 2016.
- Benjamin Rush Institute, Chapters, organizational website, accessed December 13, 2016.