Georgia Public Policy Foundation

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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation(GPPF) is a free-market think tank based in Atlanta, Georgia. GPPF is a member of the State Policy Network], a web of right-wing “think tanks."

On its website it states that it believes that "good public policy is based upon fact, an understanding of sound economic principles and the core principles of our free enterprise system – economic freedom, limited government, personal responsibility, individual initiative, respect for private property and the rule of law."[1]

News and Controversies

GPPF, Secretary Betsy DeVos Promote Schools Reopening and School Privatization Amidst Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, GPPF hosted an education discussion with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. GPPF and Secretary DeVos used the conversation to encourage schools to reopen during the fall of 2020. They also used the conversation to promote school privatization with DeVos discussing the Espinoza v. Montana lawsuit. DeVos also voiced support for micro-schools.[2]

Former Vice President of GPPF Becomes Georgia Attorney General

In 2016, Chris Carr, the Vice President and General Counsel at the GPPF, was appointed state Attorney General for Georgia by Governor Nathan Deal. In 2018, Carr was elected serve a full term as Attorney General. Carr began his career working for Georgia Pacific, a now subsidiary paper company for the Koch Industries. [3][4]

GPPF Called Out for Blocking Action on Climate Change

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 Georgia Public Policy Foundation.[5] 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.”[5]

Support for and from Telecom Corporations

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has supported removing various regulations on telecom corporations. The conservative think-tank has also advocated for removing sales taxes on telecom corporations’ investments. In turn, GPPF is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN has been funded in part by Big Telecom corporations such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Microsoft, Verizon, and Facebook.[6]

Ties to State Policy Network

Georgia Public Policy Foundation is a member of the State Policy Network, of which it receives funding. (See below.) 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 Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Georgia Public 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.[11] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[12] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[13][14] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[15]

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).[16] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[17] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[16]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[18] a conservative grant-making organization.[19]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[20] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[21] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[22] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[23] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

Funding

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation does not disclose its donors, but some of its funding sources are known through other tax filings. GPPF's known funders include:

Core Financials

2018[24]:

  • Total Revenue: $529,933
  • Total Expenses: $464,711
  • Net Assets: $288,591

2017[25]:

  • Total Revenue: $482,933
  • Total Expenses: $441,596
  • Net Assets: $222,986

2016[26]:

  • Total Revenue: $526,824
  • Total Expenses: $466,861
  • Net Assets: $180,923

2015[27]:

  • Total Revenue: $499,659
  • Total Expenses: $444,425
  • Net Assets: $133,989


2014[28]:

  • Total Revenue: $408,937
  • Total Expenses: $575,432
  • Net Assets: $78,755

2013[29]:

  • Total Revenue: $679,020
  • Total Expenses: $688,859
  • Net Assets: $244,002

2012[30]:

  • Total Revenue: $669,643
  • Total Expenses: $554,835
  • Net Assets: $253,841

2011[31]:

  • Total Revenue: $660,671
  • Total Expenses: $571,124
  • Net Assets: $138,779

2010[32]:

  • Total Revenue: $570,780
  • Total Expenses: $611,182
  • Net Assets: $47,357

2009[33]:

  • Total Revenue: $583,209
  • Total Expenses: $634,818
  • Net Assets: $87,759

Personnel

As of August 2020:[1]

  • Kyle Wingfield, President & CEO
  • Benita M. Dodd, Vice President
  • Susan Benson, Office Manager
  • Kennedy C. Atkins, Development Associate
  • Chris Denson, Director of Policy and Research

Board of Trustees

As of August 2020:[1]

  • Rogers Wade, Chairman
  • David B. Allman (Regent Partners)
  • Frank Barron (Rome Coca-Cola (retired))
  • Gordon Beckham (McCamish Systems)
  • Roy Fickling (Fickling and Company, Inc.)
  • Robert F. Hatcher, Jr. (H2 Capital, Inc.)
  • Ray Padrón, (Brightworth)
  • Kyle B. Wingfield (Georgia Public Policy Foundation)
  • Gordon Beckham (McCamish Systems)
  • Clyde Shepard (Shepherd Construction)
  • Kelly McCutchen (HINRI)

Senior Fellows

As of August 2020:[1]

  • Ron Bachman
  • Dr. Harold Brown
  • Dr. Jeffrey H. Dorfman
  • Baruch Feigenbaum
  • Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald
  • Leonard Gilroy
  • Dr. John Goodman
  • Jim Kelly
  • Ross Mason
  • Kelly McCutchen
  • Bob Poole
  • Dr. Christine Ries
  • Dr. Benjamin Scafidi
  • Nina Schaefer
  • Dr. Frank Stephenson
  • Dr. Eric Wearne

Former Staff

  • Mike Klein, former Editor
  • Kelly McCutchen, President & CEO
  • Ross Coker, Research & Outreach Director

Former board members:

  • Ron Bachman
  • Dr. Harold Brown
  • Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald
  • Leonard Gilroy
  • Dr. John Goodman
  • Ross Mason
  • Jim Kelly
  • Nina Schaefer
  • Bob Poole
  • Dr. Benjamin Scafidi
  • Dr. Frank Stephenson
  • Dr. Christine Ries
  • Baruch Feigenbaum
  • Dr. Eric Wearne
  • Dr. Jeffrey H. Dorfman
  • Kelly McCutchen

Contact Information

Georgia Public Policy Foundation
3200 Cobb Galleria Parkway
Suite 214
Atlanta, GA 30339
Phone: (404) 256-4050
Email: info@GeorgiaPolicy.org
Website: http://www.georgiapolicy.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gppf
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicy/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/georgiapolicy/

Articles and resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Georgia Public Policy Foundation, "Who We Are", organizational website, accessed August 22, 2016.
  2. CSPAN, Video Discussion, Organizational Video Conference, JULY 15, 2020
  3. Nick Surgey, New Attorney General, Exposed, October 13, 2016
  4. Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Bio Government Website, accessed: August 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sheldon Whitehouse, "Senators Call Out Web of Denial Blocking Action On Climate Change," Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, July 15, 2016.
  6. Jay Riestenberg, Big Telecom, Exposed, February 21, 2014
  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. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  12. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  13. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  14. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  15. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 27, 2011.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  17. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  18. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  19. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  20. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  21. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  22. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  23. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  24. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2018 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, Nov. 30, 2019
  25. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2017 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, Nov. 14, 2018
  26. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2016 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, Nov. 30, 2017
  27. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2015 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, September 22, 2016.
  28. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2014 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, September 8, 2015.
  29. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 17, 2014.
  30. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 7, 2013.
  31. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2011 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, October 23, 2012.
  32. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2010 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 12, 2011.
  33. Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 2009 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, October 25, 2010.

External resources

External articles