Talent Market

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Talent Market is a limited liability company (LLC) owned by DonorsTrust, a donor advised fund favored by the billionaire Koch network of ultra-wealthy right-wingers for its easy cloaking of donations to political allies. It was founded in 2009 by former President and CEO of DonorsTrust Whitney Ball, President of the State Policy Network (SPN) Tracie Sharp, and Talent Market Executive Director Claire Kittle Dixon.[1]

Headhunting for the Right-Wing

Internal documents from the Bradley Foundation reveal that Talent Market serves as the preferred head hunting agency of the right-wing. The firm "has helped place over 270 leaders, fundraisers, and lawyers at more than 160 right-wing think tanks, media groups and advocacy organizations nationwide. Talent Market also acts as a consultant to the right-wing on 'strategies for retaining top talent, including role changes, performance reviews, incentive programs and training,' (DonorsTrust, Grant Proposal Record, 6/2/2015)."[1]

The Bradley Files also show that Talent Market,

"has created and maintained a large database of individuals who would qualify for mid and senior level positions in a variety of conservative think tanks, grassroots and grasstops institutions, and development and communications organizations. This database serves as a source of information on candidate availability, appropriate salary ranges for vacant positions and candidate qualifications, relocation trends, hiring timelines and other information for hiring” (Donors Trust, Grant Proposal Record, 2/23/16)."[1]

Leaders placed by Talent Market in right-wing think tanks include:

Hiring "Legal Talent" for State Litigation Alliance

David Armiak writes in "Talent Market: The Libertarian Headhunting Firm Serving the Koch Network and the Bradley Foundation,"

"The Bradley files also show that Talent Market has been “successful in identifying legal talent” for the Goldwater Institute-led and Bradley funded “litigation alliance,” placing counsel at Goldwater, Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center, and the Institute for Justice (Donors Trust, Grant Proposal Record, 2/23/16). In 2014, the Bradley Foundation provided $350,000 in seed money for litigator Clint Bolick “initiative to create a state litigation alliance” (Report: Goldwater Institute, 2016). The Bradley Price recipient Bolick was vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute at the time. Today Bolick is on the Arizona Supreme Court. The state litigation alliance “helps research and identify those states that have greatest potential for advancing state-constitutional law – then trains and, if asked, mentors attorneys who can either lead or staff existing or newly-created legal centers elsewhere, with an intensive ‘litigation boot camp’ for interested conscripts,” Bradley staff writes. In all, Bradley has contributed $600,000 to the state litigation alliance because it “retains great potential to continue maximizing the benefit of Bradley’s much other recent strategic grantmaking to improve conservative infrastructures” (Goldwater Institute, Grant History Record, 11/10/14). Recent job listings at Talent Market show that Executive Director Dixon is recruiting attorneys for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Washington-based Freedom Foundation, both also members of the litigation alliance."[1]

Hiring Political Operatives

David Armiak writes in "Talent Market: The Libertarian Headhunting Firm Serving the Koch Network and the Bradley Foundation,"

"As a wholly owned LLC of DonorsTrust, a registered 501(c)(3), Talent Market cannot get involved in politics or help organizations other than registered 501(c)(3)s. An email Executive Director Dixon wrote to Dr. Brad Hobbs on February 16, 2016, confirms this, “We do not work with 501(c)(4)s, 501(c)(6)s, 527s, or government entities.” Talent Market’s Mission statement states in italics that “We do not work in politics.” Yet the website lists “Politics/Campaigns” as one of its job categories and the work of SPN groups is often highly political. SPN groups funded by the Bradley Foundation, for instance, work to crush unions and turn blue states red.
Bradley staff notes that Talent Market helped one of its favorite grantees get off the ground. Talent Market helped American Majority find “a national executive director, two state directors, and multiple field directors,” (Donors Trust, Grant Proposal Record, 6/2/15). As Mary Bottari points out in “Weaponized Philanthropy”, “American Majority was founded by the sons of Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS) specifically for the purpose of training people to run for office.” American Majority is registered as a 501(c)3 but it also has a registered 501(c)4: American Majority Action. The national executive director for American Majority, Matt Batzel, is also the national executive director for American Majority Action. Talent Market filled this position, according to Bradley."[1]

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

David Armiak reports that the Bradley Files reveal that,

"Bradley did not contribute to Talent Market until 2015 when it needed to hire a new Vice President for External Relations. Talent Market was utilized for the search and Bradley hired Jessica F. Dean for the position. Dean also serves as President of the Bradley Impact Fund, Bradley’s own donor advised fund. Although Talent Market advertises its services as “free” on its website, Bradley gave $30,000 to Talent Market through DonorsTrust in 2015, (DonorsTrust, Grant Proposal Record, 6/2/2015). Another Bradley accounting spreadsheet titled, “2015-1099 Vendors Summary” lists Executive Director Claire Kittle Dixon under the column “Vendor Name” and “search firm” in the column “Services.” In 2016, Bradley gave $50,000 on March 16 to Talent Market through DonorsTrust (Grant Review, Board Meeting, 2/23/16). Talent Market’s services were utilized that year to hire a new Vice President for Programs: Carl Helstrom. Talent Market promoted the hire in a May 2017 email. Bradley’s $50,000 “grant” represents over a sixth of Talent Market’s 2016 operating budget of $275,500."[1]
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 State Policy Network

Talent Market Clients

President of the State Policy Network (SPN) Tracie Sharp is a cofounder of Talent Market.[1] The owner of Talent Market, DonorsTrust is an associate member of SPN. In addition, SPN has contributed a total of $10,000 to Talent Market in 2013 and 2015.

Talent Market's client list includes many SPN members and SPN itself.[2]

Ties to the Kochs

Talent Market has many ties to the Koch network. Before founding Talent Market, Dixon was the Program Officer for Leadership and Talent Development at the Charles G. Koch Foundation. The only other employee at Talent Market, talent manager Lauren Skiver, also worked for the Charles G. Koch Foundation as a grants coordinator.[1]

Many of Talent Market's clients are Koch organizations or organizations the Kochs fund. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Charles Koch Institute, Charles G. Koch Foundation, Cato Institute, Mercatus Center, and the Institute for Humane Studies have all utilized Talent Market to fill positions.


Koch Wiki

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.

Funding

Talent Market relies on donations through its parent organization DonorsTrust since its service is free. Talent Market is not required by law to disclose its contributors, but some are known through IRS filings.

Core Financials

Talent Market is a limited liability company (LLC) owned by DonorsTrust. As such, Talent Market's finances are disclosed within DonorTrust's IRS filings.

2015[6]

  • Revenue: $0
  • Expenses: $150,908
  • Grants of: $0
  • Claie Kittle-Dixon Salary: $150,000

2014[7]

  • Revenue: $0
  • Expenses: $146,992
  • Grants of: $0
  • Claire Kittle-Dixon Salary: $134,968

2013[8]

  • Revenue: $0
  • Expenses: $123,030
  • Grants of: $0
  • Claire Kittle-Dixon Salary: $118,632

2012[9]

  • Revenue: $0
  • Expenses: $128,502
  • Grants of : $0
  • Claire Kittle-Dixon Salary: $107,964

2011[10]

  • Revenue: $0
  • Expenses: $125,605
  • Grants of: $0
  • Claire Kittle-Dixon Salary: $108,000

2010[11]

  • Revenue: $0
  • Expenses: $120,358
  • Grants of: $0
  • Claire Kittle-Dixon Salary: NA

2009[12]

  • Revenue: $175,000
  • Expenses: $49,987
  • Grants of: $0
  • Claire Kittle-Dixon Salary: NA

Personnel

Staff

As of June 2017:[13]

Advisory Council

As of June 2017:[14]

Contact Information

Talent Market
1490 Greenshade Way
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Business Address
c/o DonorsTrust
1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 280
Alexandria, VA 22314

Website: http://talentmarket.org
Phone: 703-835-9933
Email: contact @ talentmarket.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/talentmarket
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TalentMarket

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 David Armiak, Talent Market: The Libertarian Headhunting Firm Serving the Koch Network and the Bradley Foundation, ExposedbyCMD, June 28, 2017.
  2. Talent Market, VP of Development – State Policy Network – Virtual Office, Talent Market, May 30, 2017.
  3. Americans for Prosperity Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2013.
  4. Franklin Center, 2014 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, September 18, 2015.
  5. Illinois Policy Institute, [paper copy 2015 Form 990], Internal Revenue Service, November 14, 2016.
  6. DonorsTrust, 2015 990 Form, DonorsTrust, November 14, 2016.
  7. DonorsTrust, 2014 990 Form, DonorsTrust, November 16, 2015.
  8. DonorsTrust, 2013 990 Form, DonorsTrust, November 7, 2014.
  9. DonorsTrust, 2012 990 Form, DonorsTrust, November 14, 2013.
  10. DonorsTrust, 2011 990 Form, DonorsTrust, November 14, 2012.
  11. DonorsTrust, 2010 990 Form, DonorsTrust, November 14, 2011.
  12. DonorsTrust, 2009 990 Form, DonorsTrust, August 13, 2010.
  13. Talent Market, Leadership, Talent Market, June 2017.
  14. Talent Market, Advisory Council, Talent Market, June 2017