Roe Foundation

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The Roe Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation started by Thomas A. Roe (1927-2000), founding chairman of the State Policy Network (SPN)[1] and founder of the South Carolina Policy Council.[2] Roe was also an early funder of the Heritage Foundation, joining Joseph Coors, Samuel Roberts Noble, and Richard Mellon Scaife. He led Heritage's finance committee.[3]

News and Controversies

Funded Organizations Seeking to Dismantle Public Sector Unions

The Roe Foundation has contributed to Buckeye Institute and Freedom Foundation, two right-wing nonprofits at the "forefront of a coordinated attack on public sector unions across the country."[4]

Media Matters Exposé on Education Reform

The Roe Foundation is one of many right-wing philanthropy groups mentioned in a 2016 Media Matters for America exposé of the education reform movement.[5]
The Roe Foundation's Financial Ties. Taken from:[5]

Funded Organization Pushing Voter ID Legislation

The Roe Foundation has contributed to National Center for Public Policy Research, which created a "Voter Identification Task Force" in 2012.[6]

Roe Foundation Donations Contingent on Upholding Small-Government, Judeo-Christian Principles

The Roe Foundation has explicit by-laws and requires grantees to sign a document promising to uphold the following principles:

  • The maximum potential of a free people is achieved when they are free to control their own destiny
  • The greatest threat to these freedoms is intrusive government
  • The Judeo-Christian tradition represents the underpinnings of a just society[3]

"Furthermore, recipients of the foundation’s support must recognize the importance of state and local organizations functioning alongside national organizations in the pursuit of a free society [and they must] educate the public at large and all public policy makers to a better understanding of these fundamental values and practical ways to achieve the goals of expanding human freedom."[3]

"The by-laws also permit the support of nonprofit organizations in the metropolitan area of Greenville until such time as there are no descendents [sic] of Tom or Shirley Roe living there– and so long as these grants to local groups never become the 'principal function' of the foundation. Even these gifts come with a conservative twist: An annual gift to the Greenville Symphony Orchestra stipulates that its musicians cannot unionize. 'Tom didn’t like unions,' says Shirley Roe."[3]

Thomas Roe gave Mont Pelerin Society and Philadelphia Society standing to sue the Roe Foundation if it donates to an organization "'whose activities or public statements reflect a belief in a collectivist world or any view inconsistent' with the foundation’s announced principles."[3]

Ties to the State Policy Network

Roe Foundation is a major funder of the 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 August 2020, SPN's membership totals 162. 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.[7] 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.[8]

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.'"[9]

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.[10]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

The Roe Foundation has granted $28,500 to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) between 2000 and 2011, according to a review of the foundation's IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

About ALEC
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.

Grants Distributed

2018

The Roe Foundation gave at least $1,500,500 to SPN, its members, and associate members in 2018. These groups, as well as other entities that received grants in 2018, are broken down as follows:[23]

2016

The Roe Foundation gave at least $1,458,000 to SPN, its members, and associate members in 2016. These groups, as well as other entities that received grants in 2016, are broken down as follows:[24]

2015

The Roe Foundation gave at least $1,398,000 to SPN, its members, and associate members in 2015. These groups, as well as other entities that received grants in 2015, are broken down as follows:[25]

2014

The Roe Foundation gave at least $1,599,500 to SPN, its members, and associate members in 2014. These groups, as well as other entities that received grants in 2014, are broken down as follows:[26]

2013

The Roe Foundation gave at least $1,368,000 to SPN, its members, and associate members in 2013. These groups, as well as other entities that received grants in 2013, are broken down as follows:[27]

1998-2012

The Roe Foundation gave at least $10,051,000 to SPN, its members, and associate members between 1998-2012. These groups are broken down as follows:[28] (contributions span 1998-2012 unless otherwise noted)

Core Financials

2018[23]

  • Total Revenue: $2,100,744
  • Total Expenses: $2,101,612
  • Net Assets: $25,149,592

2017[29]

  • Total Revenue: $1,586,457
  • Total Expenses: $2,148,702
  • Net Assets: $25,711,837

2016[24]

  • Total Revenue: $8,064
  • Total Expenses: $2,043,065
  • Net Assets: $27,746,838

2015[25]

  • Total Revenue: $1,090,098
  • Total Expenses: $2,139,786
  • Net Assets: $28,796,526

2014[26]

  • Total Revenue: $2,016,556
  • Total Expenses: $2,148,209
  • Net Assets: $28,928,179

2013[27]

  • Total Revenue: $1,498,810
  • Total Expenses: $1,856,251
  • Net Assets: $29,285,620

2012[30]

  • Total Revenue: $1,885,940
  • Total Expenses: $1,742,152
  • Net Assets: $29,141,832

2011[11]

  • Total Revenue: $1,599,873
  • Total Expenses: $1,769,891
  • Net Assets: $29,311,850

2010[31]

  • Total Revenue: $1,913,269
  • Total Expenses: $1,659,742
  • Net Assets: $29,058,323

2009[32]

  • Total Revenue: $2,565,008
  • Total Expenses: $1,816,287
  • Net Assets: $33,439,618

2008[33]

  • Total Revenue: $466,172
  • Total Expenses: $2,016,060
  • Net Assets: $35,950,639

Personnel

Board of Directors

The Roe Foundation's board of directors, as of its 2018 tax filing, consists of:[34]

Contact Information

Roe Foundation
301 N Main St Ste 1735
Greenville , SC 29601
Phone: (864) 242-5007[35]

EIN: 23-7011541

Articles and Resources

Related Sourcewatch

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

External Resources

References

  1. State Policy Network, Thomas Roe Legacy Society, organizational website, accessed September 2, 2020.
  2. South Carolina Policy Council, Who Are We?, organizational website, accessed September 2, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 John J. Miller, "Safeguarding a Conservative Donor’s Intent: The Roe Foundation at 39" (Web Archive), Foundation Watch, Capital Research Center publication, Wayback Machine, May 2007, accessed September 2, 2020.
  4. David Armiak, "Right-Wing Out-of-State Funders Bankroll Anti-Union Campaigns in Ohio", PR Watch, May 8, 2020, accessed August 29, 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Pam Vogel, "Here Are The Corporations And Right-Wing Funders Backing The Education Reform Movement", Media Matters for America, April 27, 2016, accessed August 29, 2020.
  6. Lisa Graves, "Right-Wing Operatives Take Up ALEC's Voter Suppression Agenda", PR Watch, April 19, 2012, accessed August 29, 2020.
  7. David Armiak, https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2019/11/13/revenue-state-policy-network-state-affiliates-tops-120-million/ Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million], ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  8. 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.
  9. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  10. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Roe Foundation, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  12. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2010.
  13. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS filing, 2009.
  14. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2008.
  15. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2007.
  16. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2006.
  17. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2005.
  18. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2004.
  19. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2003.
  20. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2002.
  21. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2001.
  22. Roe Foundation, Form 990, organizational IRS tax filing, 2000.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Roe Foundation, 2018 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Roe Foundation, IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Roe Foundation, 2015 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Roe Foundation, 2014 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Roe Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  28. Center for Media and Democracy, Review of Roe Foundation Forms 990, 1998-2012, SourceWatch.org, June 2014.
  29. Roe Foundation, 2017 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  30. Roe Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  31. Roe Foundation, 2010 Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  32. Roe Foundation, 2009 Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  33. Roe Foundation, 2008 Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed September 1, 2020.
  34. Roe Foundation, 2018 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, p. 20, May 14, 2019, accessed August 29, 2020.
  35. Guidestar.org, Roe Foundation, online organization report, accessed September 2012