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Rio Grande Foundation
The Rio Grande Foundation (RGF) describes itself as a "New Mexico based free market research and educational organization dedicated to the study of public policy." It is a state think tank member of the State Policy Network.
- 1 Ties to the Koch Brothers
- 2 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
- 3 Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
- 4 Funding
- 5 Core Financials
- 6 Personnel
- 7 Contact Information
- 8 Articles and Resources
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
The Rio Grande Foundation has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council through its founder, Hal Stratton. Stratton, now a private lawyer, was once a member of the New Mexico legislature and later served as New Mexico Attorney General and Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission under George Bush. He received the ALEC Legislator of the Year award in 1981.
Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.
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.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The Rio Grande Foundation founded New Mexico Watchdog. The Rio Grande Foundation has hosted writers from the ALEC-connected Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which screens potential reporters on their “free market” views as part of the job application process. The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states. Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias. On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."
Franklin Center Funding
Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center's funding "is 100 percent anonymous." But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large "donor-advised fund," cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin's Internal Revenue Service records). Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article. Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.
The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM), a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network, which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation. SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.
RGF does not disclose its donors, but some of its funding sources are known through other tax filings. RGF's known funders include:
- Cato Institute: $50,000 (2006)
- Charles G. Koch Foundation: $30,000 (2015)
- DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund: $584,500 (2010-2013)
- State Policy Network: $10,250 (2014)
- Total Revenue: $228,458
- Total Expenses: $248,565
- Net Assets: $79,878
- Total Revenue: $264,636
- Total Expenses: $261,142
- Net Assets: $99,985
- Total Revenue: $275,575
- Total Expenses: $220,734
- Net Assets: $96,491
- Total Revenue: $215,317
- Total Expenses: $251,735
- Net Assets: $41,650
- Total Revenue: $404,829
- Total Expenses: $393,270
- Net Assets: $78,068
- Total Revenue: $363,912
- Total Expenses: $342,854
- Net Assets: $66,509
- Total Revenue: $450,785
- Total Expenses: $421,834
- Net Assets: $45,451
- Total Revenue: $262,253
- Total Expenses: $442,884
- Net Assets: $16,500
As of September 2018:
- Paul Gessing, President
- D. Dowd Muska, Research Director
- William Patrick Leonard, Senior Fellow
- Rebecca Ralph, Senior Fellow
- J. Scott Moody, Adjunct Fellow
- Todd Myers, Adjunct Fellow
- Deane Waldman, Adjunct Fellow
- Wendy P. Warcholik, Adjunct Fellow
- Eric Fruits, Adjunct Scholar
- Ruben Pacheco, Policy Analyst
- Marcos P. Portillo, Policy Analyst
Board of Directors
- Paul Gessing, President
- Ben Alaimo-Monson, Secretary
- Victor S. Bruno, Treasurer
- Peter Howley
- Tom Mullins
- Hal Stratton
- Doug Turner
- Deane Waldman
- Elisabeth Keen
- Jack Swickard
The Rio Grande Foundation
P.O. Box 40336
Albuquerque, NM 87196
Articles and Resources
- "Rio Grande Foundation", accessed, March 2008.
- Jeff Proctor, Koch brothers, defense attorneys: What’s on New Mexicans’ minds matters, New Mexico In Depth, February 5, 2016.
- "BHFS People: Hal Stratton", organizational website, accessed November 2012
- "LinkedIn Public Profile: Hal Stratton", accessed November 2012
- Free Liberal "Health Care Policy Expert to Discuss State, National Reforms at Albuquerque Event", 2 March 2009
- Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
- The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
- Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
- Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
- Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 27, 2011.
- Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
- Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
- Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
- The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Cato Institute, 2006 Annual Report, pages 19-23.
- Rio Grande Foundation, [paper copy 2015 IRS 990 Form], Rio Grande Foundation, May 18, 2016.
- Rio Grande Foundation, [paper copy 2015 IRS 990 Form], Rio Grande Foundation, May 18, 2016.
- Rio Grande Foundation, 2014 IRS 990 Form, Rio Grande Foundation, August 15, 2015.
- Rio Grande Foundation, 2013 IRS 990 Form, Rio Grande Foundation, May 15, 2014.
- Rio Grande Foundation, 2012 IRS 990 Form, Rio Grande Foundation, April 22, 2013.
- Rio Grande Foundation, IRS form 990, 2011. GuideStar.
- Rio Grande Foundation, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
- Rio Grande Foundation, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
- Rio Grande Foundation, About the Rio Grande Foundation, Rio Grande Foundation, 2018
Related SourceWatch Articles
- State Policy Network:
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Donors Capital Fund
- Koch Family Foundations
- Koch Industries
- Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
- Heritage Foundation
- Think tanks
- Whitney Ball
- Adam Meyerson
- Bridgett Wagner
Related PRWatch Articles
- Brendan Fischer, Why Are the Franklin Center's "Wisconsin Reporter" and "Watchdog.org" Attacking the John Doe?, PRWatch.org, December 19, 2013.
- Rebekah Wilce, The State Policy Network's Cozy Relationship with Big Tobacco, PRWatch.org, December 16, 2013.
- Rebekah Wilce, Did ALEC Found SPN? 1991 Report Suggests So, Exposes SPN Agenda, PRWatch.org, December 12, 2013.
- Rebekah Wilce, Guardian Documents Expose State Policy Network Groups' Intent to Lobby, PRWatch.org, December 5, 2013.
- Rebekah Wilce, State Policy Network: The Stealth Network Dramatically Influencing State Law, PRWatch.org, December 5, 2013.
- Rebekah Wilce, Tracie Sharp: Bursar of Mystery Money and "IKEA Model" Materials to Stink Tanks, PRWatch.org, November 19, 2013.
- Center for Media and Democracy, Reports Expose Extreme Pressure Groups Masquerading as Think Tanks, press release, November 13, 2013.
- Rebekah Wilce, A Reporters’ Guide to the "State Policy Network": the Right-Wing Think Tanks Spinning Disinformation and Pushing the ALEC Agenda in the States, PRWatch.org, April 4, 2013.
- Sara Jerving, ALEC and Heartland Aim to Crush Renewable Energy Standards in the States, PRWatch.org, November 27, 2012.
- Connor Gibson, Meet the Network Hiding the Koch Money: "Donors Trust" and "Donors Capital Fund", PRWatch.org, October 29, 2012.
- Brendan Fischer, Koch-Funded Mackinac Center Brings Wisconsin Act 10 Provisions to ALEC, PRWatch.org, May 2, 2012.
- Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 31, 2011.
- Wall Street Journal, The Spoils of the Republican State Conquest, December 9, 2016, archived by CMD here.
- DeSmog Blog, Stink Tanks: Historical Records Reveal State Policy Network Was Created by ALEC, December 9, 2013.
- The Guardian, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, December 5, 2013.
- Portland Press Herald, "Washington County residents have mixed reactions to plan to eliminate taxes," December 5, 2013.
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- Shepherd Express, Masters of Manipulation: Right-wing Billionaires, Corporations and the Bradley Foundation Pay for Junk Studies that Prop up Their Agenda, November 27, 2013.
- "Moyers & Company," How a Shadowy Network of Corporate Front Groups Distorts the Marketplace of Ideas, November 19, 2013.
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- The New Yorker (Jane Mayer), Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, November 15, 2013.
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- St. Louis Business Journal, Beyond Sinquefield: Who else is funding the Show-Me Institute?, November 15, 2013.
- The Guardian, Facebook and Microsoft help fund rightwing lobby network, report finds, November 14, 2013.
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- The Oregonian, Cascade Policy Institute benefits from secretive donor group but says it operates independently, November 13, 2013.
- 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.
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- Progress Florida and CMD, Lawmaking Under the Influence of Very Special Interests: Understand the role of Florida ‘think tanks’ in driving a Koch-fueled, ALEC-allied corporate agenda, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Maine's Majority Education Fund, Fooling Maine: How national conservative groups infiltrated Maine politics by founding and funding the Maine Heritage Policy Center, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Progress Michigan, Who's Running Michigan? The Far-Right Influence of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
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- FireDogLake, State Policy Network, an umbrella coordinating ALEC, Heritage, Heartland and others, April 4, 2013.
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- Current TV "War Room", Lee Fang discussing the State Policy Network, March 28, 2013.
- The Nation, The Right Leans In, March 26, 2013.
- Democracy Now, Donors Trust: Little-Known Group Helps Wealthy Backers Fund Right-Wing Agenda in Secret, February 19, 2013.
- Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, Consider the Source, February 14, 2013.
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- Guidestar, State Policy Network, IRS filings and other organizational information about SPN.
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- John J. Miller, Fifty Flowers Bloom: Conservative think tanks — mini–Heritage Foundations — at the state level, National Review, November 19, 2007.
- Bridge Project, State Policy Network, online resource listing grants to SPN and SPN's connections to other groups.
- People for the American Way, State Policy Network, RightWingWatch.org, organizational resource.
- Greenpeace, Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group: State Policy Network (SPN), organizational resource.