Platte Institute for Economic Research
The Platte Institute "believes that government should not be a barrier to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. Our policies, which are grounded in the principles of individual liberty and free enterprise, will remove those barriers so that:
- Nebraskans can keep more of what they earn;
- It’s easier to start and grow a business in Nebraska;
- Nebraska can retain and attract a talented workforce.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
According to the Platte Institute's website, interns accepted by the organization "will have the opportunity to participate in the Charles Koch Institute nonprofit internship for students. Students selected for this program will receive additional training and resources from the Charles Koch Institute and will receive compensation for their participation."
Emily Hamilton, an author at the Platte Institute, is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Urbanity Project at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, a think tank that was founded and is funded by the Koch Family Foundations.
Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.
Ties to the State Policy Network
Jon Sanders, an author at the Platte Institute, is the Director of Regulatory Studies at John Locke Foundation, another affiliate member of SPN. 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 Platte Institute is not required to disclose its funders but major foundation supporters can be found through their IRS filings. Here are some known contributors:
- Adolph Coors Foundation: $50,000 (2014, 2017)
- Atlas Network: $34,447 (2010, 2019)
- CL Werner Foundation: $115,000 (2011, 2013-2015, 2017-2019)
- Creigh Family Foundation: $2,500 (2015)
- Donors Capital Fund: $510,570 (2010-2016)
- DonorsTrust: $289,500 (2017-2019)
- EdChoice: $15,000 (2015)
- Fred and Tish Hawkins Foundation: $1,000 (2010)
- Hawkins Charitable Trust: $3,000 (2015-2016)
- Hawkins Family Foundation: $6,000 (2011-2014)
- Hofer Family Foundation: $6,000 (2014-2015, 2017)
- Homan Family Foundation: $2,000 (2014-2015)
- Hundred Foundation: $12,500 (2017-2018)
- Jaquelin Hume Foundation: $50,000 (2009-2010)
- JM Foundation: $70,000 (2014, 2017)
- Krieger Family Foundation: $1,000 (2012-2013)
- Lincoln Community Foundation: $20,494 (2015-2018)
- Lockwood Foundation: $4,000 (2017-2018)
- Robert and Carole Julian Foundation: $15,000 (2016-2018)
- Robert F and Myrna L Krohn Family Foundation: $5,000 (2015-2018)
- Rod Rhoden Foundation: $22,000 (2013-2018)
- Roe Foundation: $145,000 (2008-2016, 2018)
- State Policy Network: $110,750 (2013-2014, 2016-2017)
- Sunshine Foundation Trust: $57,015 (2011-2015, 2017-2018)
- Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation: $30,000 (2019)
- Total Revenue: $1,008,189
- Total Expenses: $993,114
- Net Assets: $252,977
- Total Revenue: $989,780
- Total Expenses: $961,126
- Net Assets: $237,902
- Total Revenue: $849,642
- Total Expenses: $829,246
- Net Assets: $209,248
- Total Revenue: $820,604
- Total Expenses: $760,263
- Net Assets: $188,852
- Total Revenue: $724,397
- Total Expenses: $720,451
- Net Assets: $128,511
- Total Revenue: $664,702
- Total Expenses: $648,172
- Net Assets: $124,565
- Total Revenue: $567,826
- Total Expenses: $570,166
- Net Assets: $108,035
- Total Revenue: $449,370
- Total Expenses: $452,558
- Net Assets: $102,479
- Total Revenue: $394,830
- Total Expenses: $422,697
- Net Assets: $105,667
- Total Revenue: $564,483
- Total Expenses: $464,873
- Net Assets: $133,534
- Total Revenue: $441,844
- Total Expenses: $412,490
- Net Assets: $33,924
As of February 2021:
- Jim Vokal, Chief Executive Officer
- Kimberly Chalek, Executive Vice President of Operations
- Sarah Curry, Policy Director
- Laura Ebke, Senior Fellow
- Nicole Fox, Director of Government Relations
- Hunter Gorby, Director of Development
- Adam Weinberg, Communications and Outreach Director
- Patrick Gerhart- Policy Outreach Director
- Kimberly Stephenson- Development Director
- Jen Rae Wang, Director of Government Affairs (left to work for U.S. Rep. Don Bacon)
- Joe Neuhaus, Director of Development
Board of Directors
As of February 2021:
- Jon Abefflen
- Sid Dinsdale
- Bob Dudley
- Jim Gresich
- Blake Hoofeveen
- Jim Jenkins
- Pat Keenan
- Gail Werner-Robertson
- Joseph Young
- Warren Arganbright, Director
- David E. Copple
- Jeff Dinklage
- DJ Eihusen
- Michael Groene
- Travis Hiner, Director
- Nancy Johner
- Kristen Marshall Maser
- J. Peter Ricketts, President
- Bryan Slone
As of February 2021:
- Luke Ashton, Policy Intern
- Dick Clark, Research Director
- Ernie Goss, Professor Of Economics, Creighton University
- Albert Gustafson, Policy Intern
- Emily Hamilton, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center at George Mason University
- Riley Herchenbach, Policy Intern
- Jessica Herrmann, Research Director
- Michael Mcclellan, Policy Intern
- Kelcie Mckinley
- Jaliya Nagahawatte, Policy Intern
- Jay Rempe, Senior Economist, Nebraska Farm Bureau
- Jon Sanders, Director of Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
- Scott Strain, Senior Economist, Goss & Associates
Platte Institute for Economic Research
6910 Pacific Street, Suite 216
Omaha, NE 68106
Articles and Resources
- Adolph Coors Foundation
- Contributions of the State Policy Network
- Donors Capital Fund
- DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund Grant Recipients
- George Mason University
- Jaquelin Hume Foundation
- JM Foundation
- John Locke Foundation
- Koch Brothers
- Koch Family Foundations
- Mercatus Center
- Roe Foundation
- SPN Members
- State Policy Network
IRS Form 990 Filings
- Guidestar, Platte Institute for Economic Research, organizational website, accessed February 15, 2021.
- Platte Institute, About, organizational website, accessed February 15, 2021.
- Platte Institute, Internship Program, organizational website, accessed February 15, 2021.
- Platte Institute, Emily Hamilton, organizational website, accessed February 15, 2021.
- 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.
- Platte Institute, 2019 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, May 15, 2020.
- Platte Institute, 2018 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, May 10, 2019.
- Platte Institute, 2017 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, May 7, 2018.
- Platte Institute, 2016 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, May 22, 2017.
- Platte Institute, 2015 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, May 6, 2016.
- Platte Institute, 2014 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, April 21, 2015.
- Platte Institute, 2013 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, May 8, 2014.
- Platte Institute, 2012 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, May 15, 2013.
- Platte Institute, 2011 IRS 990 Form, organizational tax filing, August 13, 2012.
- Platte Institute, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
- Platte Institute, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
- Platte Institute, Staff, organizational website, accessed February 15, 2021.
- The Associated Press, Nebraska state senator to take job as think tank lobbyist, Belleville News-Democrat, November 30, 2016.
- Platte Institute, Board, organizational website, accessed February 15, 2021.
- Platte Institute, Authors, organizational website, accessed February 15, 2021.