Arkansas Policy Foundation

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The Arkansas Policy Foundation (ARF) is a right-wing pressure group based out of Little Rock, Arkansas. It is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). The foundation's work "emphasizes the importance of tax policy and education reform," according to its own website.[1]

Ties to the State Policy Network

APF is an affiliate member 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.'"[4]

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.[5]

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Arkansas Policy 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.[6] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[7] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[8][9] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[10]

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).[11] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[12] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[11]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[13] a conservative grant-making organization.[14]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[15] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[16] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[17] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[18] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

Funding

The Arkansas Policy Foundation is not required to disclose its funders. Its major foundation funders, however, can be found through a search of IRS filings. Here are the know funders of APF:[19]

  • Arkansas Community Foundation: $10,431 (2016)
  • Arkansas Industrial Development Foundation: $10,000 (2017)
  • George H. Dunklin Jr. Charitable Foundation: $25,000 (2016-2018)
  • State Policy Network: $17,500 (2017)

Tim Griffin

In 2018, Lt. Governor of Arkansas Tim Griffin donated left-over re-election contributions to non-profits and charities that shared his beliefs. One of his chosen non-profits was the Arkansas Policy Foundation. His donations ranged from around $1,000 to $20,000.[20]

Core Financials

2018[21]

  • Total Revenue: $107,175
  • Total Expenses: $91,132
  • Net Assets: $19,814

2017[22]

  • Total Revenue: $105,657
  • Total Expenses: $104,077
  • Net Assets: $3,771

2016[23]

  • Total Revenue: $195,295
  • Total Expenses: $195,001
  • Net Assets: $2,191

2014[24]

  • Total Revenue: $112,845
  • Total Expenses: $112,781
  • Net Assets: $574

2013[25]

  • Total Revenue: $116,092
  • Total Expenses: $118,254
  • Net Assets: $510

2012[26]

  • Total Revenue: $109,043
  • Total Expenses: $108,858
  • Net Assets: $2,672

2011[27]:

  • Total Revenue: $125,157
  • Total Expenses:$123,862
  • Net Assets: $2,487

2010[28]:

  • Total Revenue: $112,608
  • Total Expenses: $113,327
  • Net Assets: $1,192

2009[29]:

  • Total Revenue: $132,054
  • Total Expenses: $134,857
  • Net Assets: $1,911

Personnel

Staff

As of 2018:[21]

  • Greg Kaza, Executive Director

Board of Directors

As of August 2020:[30]

  • Dr. Glenn Davis, Physician
  • George Dunklin, Jr., Businessman and Member of the Arkansas Transformation Advisory Board[31]
  • Don Fitz, Businessman
  • Gregory Hartz, Money Manager
  • Dorothy Morris, Foundation Executive
  • Madison Murphy, Businessman
  • Bob Ratchford, Retired
  • Will Rockefeller, Businessman
  • Greg Kaza, Executive Director, Arkansas Policy Foundation
  • Blant Hurt, Businessman
  • John Nabholz, Businessman

Former Board Members

  • Keith Berry, Ph.D. (professor of economics, Hendrix College)
  • Evans M. "Kin" Bush (businessman, Hot Springs, AR)
  • Jackson T. "Steve" Stephens, Jr. (businessman, Little Rock, AR)
  • Dr. Wendell Pahls, Physician

The Post-Millennial Project

  • Dylan Saettele, Economics Analyst[32]

Contact Information

Arkansas Policy Foundation
111 Center Street, Suite 1200
Little Rock, AR. 72201
Phone: (501) 537-0825
Website: http://www.arkansaspolicyfoundation.org/
Email: ideas@arkansaspolicyfoundation.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arkansas-Policy-Foundation/134417669944237

Articles and Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

References

  1. "About the Arkansas Policy Foundation", organizational website, accessed October 2012
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  5. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  6. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  7. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  8. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  9. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  10. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 27, 2011.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  12. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  13. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  14. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  15. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  16. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  17. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  18. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  19. ProPublica Tax Filings Tax Filings, accessed: August 3, 2020
  20. Hunter Field, Campaign Finance "Arkansas Democratic Gazette", January 4, 2019
  21. 21.0 21.1 Arkansas Policy Foundation, 2018 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, accessed: August 3, 2020.
  22. Arkansas Policy Foundation, 2017 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, accessed: August 3, 2020.
  23. Arkansas Policy Foundation, 2017 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, accessed: August 3, 2020.
  24. Arkansas Policy Foundation, 2014 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 11, 2015.
  25. Arkansas Policy Foundation, 2013 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 12, 2014.
  26. Arkansas Policy Foundation, 2012 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 14, 2013.
  27. Arkansas Policy Foundation, IRS form 990, 2011. GuideStar.
  28. Arkansas Policy Foundation, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
  29. Arkansas Policy Foundation, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
  30. Arkansas Policy Foundation, Board of Directors, Arkansas Policy Foundation, 2020.
  31. Arkansas Government Transformation Advisory Board, Advisory Board Members, accessed: August 5, 2020
  32. Dylan Saettele Market Economy Article, Opinion Piece, August 2, 2020