The Pegasus Institute is a Kentucky-based public policy think tank and nonprofit founded in 2016. As described by its mission statement: "We believe that Kentucky has the potential to emerge as a national leader and a beacon of the New South. That potential can be unlocked with data-driven public policy solutions based in free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and effective, limited, and accountable government." As of August 2020, Pegasus Insitute is listed as an "Affiliate Member" of the State Policy Network.
- 1 News and Controversies
- 2 Ties to the State Policy Network
- 3 Issues
- 4 Funding
- 5 Core Financials
- 6 Personnel
- 7 Contact Information
- 8 Articles and Resources
- 9 References
News and Controversies
Pegasus Claims to Be First Organization of its Kind Run by Millennials
Josh Crawford and Jordan Harris, both in their mid-20s, founded the Pegasus Institute in 2016. They "believe that their Pegasus Institute is the first public policy research organization in the country founded and operated by millennials."
Hypocrisy on Transparency and Involvement in Campaigns
In 2016, Harris committed to releasing transparent funding information in the institute's next annual report and claimed it would not get involved in political campaigns. Harris stepped down from his executive director position in 2019. As of August 2020, no funding information nor annual reports are available on the Institute's website.
Ties to the State Policy Network
Pegasus 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 January 2021, SPN's membership totals 163. 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. 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.
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.'"
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.
The Pegasus Institute includes a "Research Library", which consists of four main "Centers": Academic Excellence, Economic Advancement, Justice, and Self-Government.
The Institute's policy briefs have advocated for increased labor force participation, increased police presence, charter schools, and removing certificate-of-need laws in the healthcare sector.
The Pegasus Insitute is not required to disclose its donors but some have been identified through an analysis of IRS filings:
- Americans for Tax Reform: $15,000 (2017)
Pegasus Institute does not have an IRS filing available for public inspection as of August 2020 so core financials are unknown.
As of August 2020:
- Josh Crawford, J.D., Executive Director
- Jonathan Shell, Director of State Initiatives
- Jared Crawford, Media and Operations Coordinator
- Erinn Boradus, Deputy Director of Criminal Justice Policy
- Dasha Kolyaskina, Executive Research Assistant
- Paul Coomes, PhD
- John Garen, PhD
- Steven Gordon, PhD
- Corrie Block, PhD
- John Wright, PhD
- Anne-Tyler Morgan, Esq.
- William Walsh, PhD
- Gary Houchens, PdD
- Harvey C. Mansfield, Harvard University
- Edwin Meese, 75th U.S. Attorney General
- John Paul Rollert, University of Chicago
- John Sivolella, Columbia University
Center for Academic Excellence
- Virginia Fox, Former Education Secretary for Kentucky
- Trey Grayson, 74th Secretary of State of Kentucky
- Dr. Gary Houchens, Western Kentucky University
- Heather Huddleston, Executive Director at School Choice Scholarships
Center for Economic Advancement
- Arthur B. Laffer, Founder and Chairman of Laffer Associates
- Nikki Jackson, Senior V.P., Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve
- Lawrence Reed, President, Foundation for Economic Education
- Morris "Mo" Miller, Chairman, Lincoln Trail Venture Group
- Suzanne Bergmeister, Forscht Center, University of Louisville School of Business
Center for Self Government
- Judge David Williams, President of Kentucky State Senate, 200-2012
- Steve Robertson, Sen. V.P., Civic Point
- Brook Parker, V.P., Civic Point
- Kristen Webb-Hill, Frost Brown Todd
Center for Justice
- Ray Larson, Frmr. Commonwealth Attorney
- Robert "Bob" Lawson", University of Kentucky Law School
- Judge Jerry Bowles, Former Circuit Family Court Judge
- Judge Tommy Turner, Judge Executive of LaRue County
- Dr. John Wright, University of Cincinnati
235 S. 5th Street
Podcast: Pegasus Institute Podcast
Articles and Resources
- Arthur B. Laffer
- Edwin Meese
- Foundation for Economic Education
- Lawrence Reed
- Reason Foundation
- SPN Members
- State Policy Network
- Think tank
- Lane Report Editors, "Executive director of Pegasus Institute to step down Nov. 1", Lane Report, August 12, 2019, accessed August 25, 2020.
- Pegasus Institute, Our Vision, organizational website, accessed August 24, 2020.
- Tom Loftus, "Millennials create conservative Ky think tank", Courier Journal, November 28, 2016.
- David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
- 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.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- Pegasus Institute, Research Library, organizational website, accessed August 24, 2020.
- Jordan Harris and Dasha Kolyaskina, "The Benefits of Work", organizational study, accessed August 24, 2020.
- Josh Crawford, "The Case for COPS 3.0", organizational study, accessed August 24, 2020.
- Dr. Corey Deangelis, Director of School Choice, Reason Foundation, "Economic Impacts of School Choice in Kentucky", organizational study, accessed August 24, 2020.
- Dr. John Garen, "Competition and Certificate-of-Need Laws", organizational study, accessed August 24, 2020.
- Pegasus Institute, Our Team, organizational website, accessed August 25, 2020.