Capital Research Center

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The Capital Research Center (CRC) is a right-wing "investigative think tank" established in 1984 to examine the influence of money in politics. CRC focuses on "unions, environmentalist groups, and a wide variety of nonprofit and activist organizations."[1] CRC says, "We do have a specific point of view. We believe in free markets, Constitutional government, and individual liberty. But facts are facts, and our journalists and researchers go where the facts lead them."[1] CRC produces a podcast,[2] political commentary,[3] and a print magazine called Capital Research.[4]

CRC is an associate member of the State Policy Network.

News and Controversies

CRC Among Several Conservative Nonprofits Funding Climate Science Disinformation Ads on Facebook

In October 2020, a report found that 51 Facebook ads questioning the credibility of climate science had been viewed over 8 million times in the first six months of 2020, despite the social media website's promise to prohibit ads debunked by third-party fact-checking organizations.[5] Nine right-wing nonprofits, including Capital Research Center, Clear Energy Alliance, Competitive Enterprise Institute, CO2 Coalition, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Prager University, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Turning Point USA, and Washington Policy Center, collectively spent $42,000 funding these advertisements.[5]

Criticism of Former Black Lives Matter Fiscal Sponsor Thousand Currents's "Domestic Terrorist" Board Member

In June 2020, a Capital Research Center piece by President Scott Walter criticized charity Thousand Currents for having Susan Rosenberg on its board.[6] Walter shared this criticism on prominent conservative radio and television programs, characterizing Rosenberg as "a convicted domestic terrorist" and discussing the connection between Thousand Currents and Black Lives Matter.[7][8]

Thousand Currents served as the fiscal sponsor of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Project from 2016-2020,[9] when the Tides Foundation assumed the role.[10]

Rosenberg was a member of Thousand Current's board as early as 2014 according to tax filings[11] and was the board's Vice Chairman in 2020 according the charity website's Board of Directors page.[12] The Board of Directors page is no longer available on the charity's website.[13] CRC claims the page was deleted within hours of the publication of Walter's story.[6]

Rosenberg was a member of the May 19th Communist Organization, which was responsible for a "string of violent and spectacular operations from 1979 to 1985: armed robberies that led to the murder of police officers and security guards, audacious prison breakouts and a bombing campaign that in addition to the U.S. Capitol targeted government buildings in Washington and New York."[14] She was arrested in 1984 on several charges, including possession of unregistered explosives and firearms, and sentenced to 58 years in prison.[14][15] Her sentence was commuted by Bill Clinton in 2001.[14][15]

Fact-checker Snopes ruled that Rosenberg was an active member of a revolutionary left-wing organization which engaged in violent illegal activities but disputed her characterization as a "domestic terrorist", saying, "In the absence of a single, universally-agreed definition of 'terrorism', it is a matter of subjective determination as to whether the actions for which Rosenberg was convicted and imprisoned— possession of weapons and hundreds of pounds of explosives— should be described as acts of 'domestic terrorism'".[15]

"Climate Dollars" Section of CRC Website Disputes Robert Brulle Study and Related Media Coverage

Drexel University sociologist Robert J. Brulle studied the 2003-2010 funding of climate change denial groups, finding that 91 organizations had "an annual income of just over $900 million, with an annual average of $64 million in identifiable foundation support."[16] In an interview, Brulle named the Koch Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Sierra Foundation as leading funders during the studied time period.[17] Brulle's study claims "there is evidence of a trend toward concealing the sources of CCCM [climate change counter-movement] funding through the use of donor directed philanthropies".[16] Brulle said in an interview that climate denial funding from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund "started out very low, 3 percent in 2003, and by 2009, [accounted for] about one-quarter of the funding of the climate countermovement..."[17]

Capital Research Center's "Climate Dollars" study criticizes Brulle's study and related media reporting. CRC used the Guardian article originally entitled, "Conservative groups spend $1bn a year to fight action on climate change"[18] as an example of a news story mischaracterizing the findings of Brulle's study. CRC argues Brulle's study measured income rather than spending and did not determine how much of groups' spending went towards climate change denial in comparison to other political projects.[19] CRC's study additionally compares the funding of climate skeptic groups to that of environmental advocacy groups, claiming that "In 2010, environmentalist groups’ income was $3.7 billion vs. $1.5 billion for skeptical groups. In 2014, environmentalists outpaced skeptical groups by $4.6 billion to $1.7 billion."[20]

CRC Launches Copy of CMD's Sourcewatch

In December 2017, CRC launched Influence Watch, a version of Center for Media and Democracy’s Sourcewatch focused on the political left-wing.[21]

Influence Watch received $125,000 in support from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, representing over a quarter of the project's budget. Influence Watch is a "signature project" of CRC's president Scott Walker, who worked for Rick Berman's astroturf attack group Berman & Co..[21]

As described in Bradley's grant proposal, "The website will be constructed in partnership with Berman and Company (where Walter worked briefly as director of development), and CRC is collaborating with the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Heartland Institute to make use of their data as it builds the new website’s profile list."[21]

Dangerous Documentaries

CRC produces "Dangerous Documentaries", which include feature-length documentaries as well as shorter films and web-series.

"Architects of Woke", a 2019 series of short videos, "takes aim at far-left post-modernist and Marxist thinkers and activists responsible for the spread of identity politics from college campuses to society at large."[22] The series investigates figures such as Judith Butler, Slavoj Žižek, Stokely Carmichael, Howard Zinn, the Chapo Trap House podcast, and the 1619 Project.

Longer films include "The Jack Kemp Playbook", "America Under Siege: Antifa", "America Under Siege: Soviet Islam", and "America Under Siege: Civil War 2017".

In October 2019, Dangerous Documentaries released a feature-length documentary entitled "No Safe Spaces", which features Prager University founder Dennis Prager and libertarian comedian Adam Carolla, who visit "college campuses across the country, interviewing students and professors, comedians and commentators on the left and right, and those who have been impacted by the silencing of different voices on campus, analyzing the value of so-called safe-spaces."[23] Other individuals featured in the documentary include Ben Shapiro, Tim Allen, Alan Dershowitz, Sharyl Attkisson, Van Jones, Dave Rubin, Candace Owens (formerly of Turning Point USA), Cornel West, Ann Coulter, and Jordan Peterson.[24]

"Defund the Left" Campaign

As part of the conservative campaign to 'Defund the left', Capital Research Center produces a range of publications targeting foundations, unions, and left-wing activist groups. The organization's website includes news devoted to "Foundation Watch",[25] "Green Watch", [26]"Labor Watch",[27] and "Organization Trends".[28]

CRC Hosts State Labor Reform Conference

Mary Bottari reports in "Bradley Foundation Bankrolls Attacks on Unions" as part of the Bradley Files investigation,

"The “State Labor Reform Conference” on October 4, 2013, was hosted by the Capital Research Center (CRC), bringing together “75 state policymakers, policy researchers and analysts, and activists from 15 states” (Meeting of the Bradley IRA Committee, 11/12/13). The president of CRC is Scott Walter, a former employee of Berman and Company.
The list of participants is a “who’s who” of anti-union activists and organizations funded by Bradley (Meeting of the Bradley IRA Committee, 11/12/13).
[Grover] Norquist was there again and so was Kersey. On a panel called “Coalition and Communication,” PR spin doctor Richard Berman of Berman and Co. was there “representing” his front group Center for Union Facts, discussed further below. Jonathan Williams was there representing the corporate bill mill, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Jennifer Butler, VP of External Relations of the State Policy Network (SPN), was there. SPN groups operate as the policy, communications, and litigation arm of ALEC, giving its cookie-cutter bills a sheen of academic legitimacy and state-based support.
In a panel called “Lessons from Wisconsin,” “Wisconsin Secretary of Administration Mike Huebsch, delivered lessons that Wisconsin has learned on labor-policy and public-pension reform and talked about how Wisconsin can be a good model for other states and localities” (Meeting of the Bradley IRA Committee, 11/12/13). Also presenting, Brett Healy of the Bradley-funded MacIver Institute and Jennifer Toftness from Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ office.
In a panel called “Lessons from Michigan,” F. Vincent Vernuccio, Director of Labor Policy for the Mackinac Center, was featured along with Terry Bowman, from a group called Union Conservatives, and Patrick Colbeck, Republican State Senator from Michigan.
There was also a panel on “Preventing and Responding to Legal Challenges” with Raymond LaJeunesse, VP and Legal Director for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The final panel, “Beyond Right to Work,” featured newcomer James Sherk from the Heritage Foundation. Sherk has worked on a new strategy to defund unions at the local level, with ALEC-style “right to work” ordinances. He was in Wisconsin in 2015 testifying on behalf of ALEC’s private-sector verbatim “right to work bill” and candidly testified that it would “drive down labor costs,” also known as wages. Sherk recently got a job in the Trump White House as a labor advisor. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, and Earl Taylor of the Goldwater Institute also presented."[29]

Lobbying Efforts

CRC lobbied members of Congress against supporting measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions in 2003. Then-president Scanlon joined 32 other conservative groups warning against "alarmist statements about climate change and science contained in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's State Department authorization bill". It warned House Committee members against accepting the Senate version of the bill, saying, "The Senate committee findings include exaggerations, misleading statements, out-of-context citations, and reliance on discredited sources."[30]

In August 2002, Scanlon was a co-signatory to a letter from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity which complained that "we are particularly concerned that the tax code is making it very difficult for U.S based companies to compete in global markets. The corporate tax rate in the United States is much too high and we compound the damage by taxing income U.S. taxpayers earn in other countries".[31]

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has contributed at least $2.5 million to Capital Research Center from 1998-2015, including $63,000 from the Bradley Impact Fund from 2013-2015. (More funding information available below).

CRC and Richard Berman's Interstate Policy Alliance Consult for Bradley on Right-Wing "Infrastructure" Investments

As Mary Bottari reported in 2017 as part of the Bradley Files investigation, "In 2015, Bradley asked Berman’s (Interstate Policy Alliance) and the allied Capital Research Center (CRC) in Washington, D.C. to conduct an assessment of “second tier” states for consideration as “potential targets of opportunity” to enhance their infrastructure investments... The CRC/IPA evaluation of the quality and potential of states’ existing conservative infrastructure and recommended investments in eight states: Colorado, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and California in that order."[32]

Bradley's Barder Fund documents note, "Given IPA’s Bradley supported role in trying to help all state think tanks, they were quite keen on the report’s contents being kept confidential."[32]

Opposition Research On CMD and the "Left"

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD)'s 2017 expose on the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation revealed that CMD has been a subject of CRC "opposition research."[33]

From the CMD series:

As part of its opposition research funding, Bradley recommended $115,000 in 2016 for the Capital Research Center run by Bradley-ally Scott Walter to develop “an online encyclopedia of the left” in conjunction with Berman that mimics the Center for Media and Democracy’s Sourcewatch.org wiki. CRC wants to focus on the anti-ALEC groups and the Democracy Alliance, a group of liberal funders.
“This will be a comprehensive, wiki-style resource that provides in-depth profiles of left-of-center individuals and organizations based on the model of the Center for Media and Democracy’s website Sourcewatch.org…CRC plans to take a page out of Sourcewatch’s playbook by ensuring that its new, wiki-style encyclopedia of the left is thorough, regularly updated and written in a manner that is accurate and measured in order to attract and retain a larger audience. The website will be constructed and in partnership with Berman and Company [where Walter worked briefly as director of development], and CRC is collaborating with ALEC and the Heartland Institute to make use of their data as it builds the new website’s profile list,” (Capital Research Center, Grant Proposal Record, 8/16/2016).
“Sourcewatch is a widely used resource that significantly influences public opinion regarding the activities of center-right groups and individuals. While there are a number of conservative resources that profile organizations and individuals on the Left (such as David Horowitz’s DiscoverTheNetworks.org, Heartland Institute’s LeftExposed.org, Berman and Company’s ActivistFacts.org and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise’s UndueInfluence.com) CDC will build upon and complement their efforts adding value through its more comprehensive coverage, superior search engine optimization, and wiki-style format,” (Capital Research Center, Grant Proposal Record, 8/16/2016).

CRC Hires Former Bradley VP Michael Hartmann

Former Vice President for Programs at the Bradley Foundation, Michael Hartmann, now works for Capital Research Center (CRC) as a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Strategic Giving.[34] While Hartmann was at Bradley, it paid CRC to work with the PR spin doctor Richard Berman’s Interstate Policy Alliance (IPA) to assess states for consideration as “potential targets of opportunity” to strengthen its infrastructure investments.[35]

An internal email from Hartmann to Bradley CEO Michael Grebe states that CRC President Scott Walter recruited Hartmann: "As discussed, new Capital Research Center (CRC) president Scott Walter has been in discussions with me ways about in which I could perhaps contribute to CRC's work...It would include compensation from CRC."[36]

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Ties to the Coal Industry

CRC has received large donations from pro-fossil fuel groups like Exxon and the Koch Family Foundations through its Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation.[37] In November 2010, CRC published a report criticizing the Sierra Club for its work in transitioning the US away from coal plants, portraying it as an attack on "American prosperity."[38]

Koch Wiki

Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.

Ties to the Tobacco Industry

Documents released as a part of the settlement by tobacco companies with U.S. state governments revealed the close relationship between CRC and Philip Morris. See Capital Research Center and the tobacco industry for more details.

Ties to Berman and Company

CMD's 2017 expose on the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation revealed that the foundation is helping fund CRC. From the CMD series[33]:

...Bradley funds the “Capital Research Center” to work with Berman on projects. The Center is not part of the Berman operation, but is run by a former Berman employee, Scott Walter. It received $2.5 million from Bradley between 1998-2015.

CRC paid Berman and Company $132,700 in 2016 for "Web, Communications, and Social Media," according to its annual IRS filing.[39]

Funding

The Capital Research Center is not required to disclose its funders but major foundation supporters can be found through its IRS filings. Here are some known contributors:

Corporate sponsors

ExxonMobil

While CRC publications identify corporate funding of what they perceive as liberal non-profit groups, they do not disclose their own corporate sponsors. However, voluntary disclosures and documents revealed as a result of court actions provide a small window into how CRC interacts with corporations. In 2002, ExxonMobil donated $25,000 to the CRC for the Green Watch project with another $25,000 in 2003, according to corporate giving reports no longer available on Exxon's website, but still available via ExxonSecrets.org. "Capital Research Center and Greenwatch has received $215,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998," and up to 2006, according to ExxonSecrets. [40] According to Exxon's website, the oil company gave another $50,000 in 2007, for "public information and policy research." [41]

Core Finances

2018:[42]

  • Total Revenue: $2,942,556
  • Total Expenses: $4,790,958
  • Net Assets: $9,355,163

2017:[43]

  • Total Revenue: $2,544,852
  • Total Expenses: $4,357,883
  • Net Assets: $11,945,962

2016:[39]

  • Total Revenue: $2,990,989
  • Total Expenses: $2,844,996
  • Net Assets: $13,759,125

2015:[44]

  • Total Revenue: $2,561,903
  • Total Expenses: $2,030,597
  • Net Assets: $14,254,129

2014:[45]

  • Total Revenue: $2,291,002
  • Total Expenses: $1,777,994
  • Net Assets: $15,085,690

2013:[46]

  • Total Revenue: $2,404,390
  • Total Expenses: $1,756,451
  • Net Assets: $14,831,662

2012:[47]

  • Total Revenue: $2,038,009
  • Total Expenses: $1,678,713
  • Net Assets: $12,940,363

Personnel

As of October 2020:[48]

Staff

  • Scott Walter, President
  • Kristen Eastlick, Senior Vice President
  • Christopher Krukewitt, Chief Financial & Operations Officer
  • Beth Bottcher, Philanthropy Officer
  • Carolyn Brandt, Administrative Assistant
  • Ken Braun, Senior Investigative Researcher
  • Heather Cordasco, Philanthropy Officer
  • Shane Devine, Research Assistant
  • Kate Flack, Development Manager
  • Michael Hartmann, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Strategic Giving
  • Catherine Heravi, Staff Accountant
  • Joseph (Jake) Klein, Film and Video Producer
  • Sarah Lee, Director of Communications and External Resources
  • Hayden Ludwig, Investigative Researcher
  • Jon Rodeback, Managing Editor and Director of Content
  • Robert Stilson, Research Specialist
  • Caleb Sutherlin, Social Media Coordinator
  • Dan Thompson, Vice President of Philanthropy and Development
  • Michael Watson, Research Director

Fellows

  • Dr. Steven J. Allen, Vice President & Chief Investigative Officer
  • Michael Hartmann, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Strategic Giving (former Vice President of Programs, Bradley Foundation)
  • Martin Morse Wooster, Senior Fellow

Board of Trustees

A 1996 report by CultureWatch said CRC's list of Trustees "reads like a Who's Who of the establishment right."[49]

National Advisory Board

Former Staff

  • Chenelyn Barker, Development Associate
  • Jack Klein, Film & Video Producer
  • Ian Johnson, Development Assistant
  • Hayden Ludwig, Communications Associate
  • Dan Thompson, Vice President of Philanthropy & Development
  • Matthew Vadum, Senior Vice President

Contact Information

Capital Research Center
1513 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

EIN: 52-1289734

Phone: (202) 483-6900
Fax: (202) 483-6990
Email: contact@capitalresearch.org
Web: http://www.capitalresearch.org
Facebook: @capitalresearchcenter
Twitter: @capitalresearch

Articles and Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

Related SourceWatch

References

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  6. 6.0 6.1 Scott Walter, "A Terrorist’s Ties to a Leading Black Lives Matter Group", Capital Research Center's Organization Trends, June 24, 2020, accessed October 15, 2020.
  7. Scott Walter, "Media Silence on the Truth of Black Lives Matter: Scott Walter on the Bill O’Reilly Show", Capital Research Center's Media Hits, July 24, 2020, accessed October 15, 2020.
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