James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
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The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, formerly the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, is a right-wing 501(c)3 nonprofit and associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN). The organization along with the John William Pope Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that provides funding to many SPN and other right wing organizations, is underwritten by Art Pope.
The James Martin Center was founded by the John Locke Foundation in 2003 as the Pope Center, changing its name at the beginning of 2017. The organization aims to add conservatives to the faculty of public universities. Its vision for "improving" universities is:
- Increase the diversity of ideas taught, debated, and discussed on campus;
- Encourage respect for the institutions that underlie economic prosperity and freedom of action and conscience;
- Increase the quality of teaching and students’ commitment to learning so that they graduate with strong literacy and fundamental knowledge;
- Encourage cost-effective administration and governance.
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.
State Policy Center
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.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
In 2009 the Charles G. Koch Foundation gave $10,000 to the James Martin Center in 2014 and $21,107 in 2009.
Jenna A. Robinson, president of the James Martin Center is a graduate of the Koch Associate Program sponsored by the Charles G. Koch Foundation.
Board member David W. Riggs previously served as an environmental program officer at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation in Washington, D.C. He has also worked at a number of other right-wing SPN organizations.
Web of Art Pope Funded Groups
Ties to the John William Pope Foundation
Board members John M. Hood and David W. Riggs have ties to the John William Pope Foundation where Hood serves as president and Riggs was previously vice president of operations and programs.
James Martin Center Originated as a Project of the John Locke Foundation
The James Martin originated as a project of the John Locke Foundation (JLF) and currently manages the higher education section of the Carolina Journal, JLF's monthly publication. The John Locke foundation is a North Carolina based right wing pressure group. The "think tank" has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Art Pope and the Franklin Center for Government Integrity. In 2010 JLF was found to be one of the most outspoken climate skeptics in North Carolina, working in concert with other groups funded by the Koch Brothers and Art Pope to creation the illusion of disagreement about the fundamentals of climate science.
In July of 2016, nineteen U.S. Senators delivered a series of speeches denouncing climate change denial from 32 organizations with links to fossil-fuel interests, including the John Locke Foundation. Sen. Whitehouse (RI-D), who led the effort to expose "the web of denial" said in his remarks on the floor that the purpose was to,
- "shine a little light on the web of climate denial and spotlight the bad actors in the web, who are polluting our American discourse with phony climate denial. This web of denial, formed over decades, has been built and provisioned by the deep-pocketed Koch brothers, by ExxonMobil, by Peabody coal, and by other fossil fuel interests. It is a grim shadow over our democracy in that it includes an electioneering effort that spends hundreds of millions of dollars in a single election cycle and threatens any Republican who steps up to address the global threat of climate change. . . . [I]t is long past time we shed some light on the perpetrators of this web of denial and expose their filthy grip on our political process. It is a disgrace, and our grandchildren will look back at this as a dirty time in America’s political history because of their work.”
Board member John M. Hood is chairman of JLF.
- Total Revenue: $631,718
- Total Expenses: $651,393
- Net Assets: $291,288
- Total Revenue: $686,543
- Total Expenses: $636,277
Net Assets: $310,963
- Total Revenue: $632,168
- Total Expenses: $609,001
- Net Assets: $260,697
The Board of Directors as of March 13, 2017:
- Arch T. Allen
- J. Edgar Broyhill
- Rep. Virginia Foxx
- John M. Hood
- Joseph P. Lindsley Sr.
- Burley Mitchell, Jr.
- Fmr Gov. James G. Martin
- David W. Riggs
- Jane S. Shaw
- Robert L. Shibley
- Garland S. Tucker, III
Staff listed as of October 12, 2016:
- Jenna Ashley Robinson, President
- George Leef, Director of Research
- Jay Schalin, Director of Policy Analysis
- Jesse Saffron, Managing Editor
- Ashley DeSena, Operations Coordinator
- Karen Noon, Accountant
- Stephanie Keaveney, Policy Associate
Academic Advisory Committee
- Stephen Balch, Director, Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, Texas Tech University
- Alan Charles Kors, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania
- Alston Chase, Independent Scholar
- John Moore, President Emeritus, Grove City College
- Anne Neal, President, American Council of Trustees and Alumni
- John Shelton Reed, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, UNC-Chapel Hill
- John W. (Jack) Sommer, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- John E. R. Staddon, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, Duke University
- Abigail Thernstrom, Former Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
- Walter E. Williams, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
- Marty Zupan, President, Institute for Humane Studies
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 16-1686283
James Martin Center for Academic Renewal
353 E. Six Road, Suite 200
Raleigh, North Carolina 27609
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed October 12, 2016.
- James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, About, organizational website, accessed March 13, 2017.
- 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.
- James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Staff, organizational website, accessed March 13, 2017.
- James Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed March 13, 2017.
- Sue Sturgis, "A Pope of climate denial" Facing South, October 26, 2010.
- Sheldon Whitehouse, "Senators Call Out Web of Denial Blocking Action On Climate Change," Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, July 15, 2016.
- Art Pope, Philanthropy, Art Pope official website, accessed October 12, 2016.
- James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, October 27, 2015.
- James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, October 22, 2014.
- James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, October 14, 2013.