R Street Institute
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.
The R Street Institute is a right wing 501(c)3 non profit "think tank" and an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN). Formerly named "D.C. Progress", the R Street Institute was "founded" on June 1, 2012 by former members of the Heartland Institute and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), both of which are also SPN member organizations.
According to its website, the R Street Institute's mission "is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government." In addition to its D.C. headquarters, the organization has offices in Florida, Ohio, Texas, Colorado and California.
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.
Ties to ALEC
Alan Smith, co-founder, senior fellow and Midwest director for the R Street Institute previously served as the executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and as a former member of ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board and its Executive Committee.
Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The R Street Institute 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. The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states. Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias. On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."
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). Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article. Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.
The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM), a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network, which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation. SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.
- Total Revenue: $2,866,498
- Total Expenses: $2,360,531
- Grants and similar amounts paid: $175,287
- Net Assets: $1,317,210
- Total Revenue: $2,369,480
- Total Expenses: $1,845,344
- Grants and similar amounts paid: $96,133
- Net Assets: $811,243
- Total Revenue: $792,122
- Total Expenses: $505,015
- Net Assets: $287,107
2011 (D.C. Progress)
- Total Revenue: $0
- Total Expenses: $9,967
- Net Assets: $2,349
Board of Directors as of October 11, 2016:
- Marni Soupcoff, Chair, Executive Director of Canadian Constitution Foundation
- Ryan Alexander, President of Taxpayers for Common Sense
- Michael Cohen, Renaissance Reinsurance
- Bob Inglis, President of RepublicEN, former U.S. Congressman
- Tevi Troy, President of American Health Policy Institute, former HHS Deputy Secretary
- Bob Watkins, Associate General Counsel, State Farm
Former Board of Directors
The Board of Directors as of RSI's 2014 IRS Form 990:
- Eli Lehrer, Chair
- David Frum, Vice Chair
- Michael Cohen, Director
- Ryan Alexander, Director
- Steve McManus, Director
- Bob Inglis, Director
- Robert Bennett, Director
- Marni Soupcoff, Director
As of October 11, 2016:
- Eli Lehrer, President, Former Chair
- Andrew Moyland, Executive Director
- Erica Schoder, Director of Operations and Treasurer
- Ian Adams, Senior Fellow
- Edward Anselm, Senior Fellow
- David Bahr, Media Relations Manager
- Ethan Bishop, Operations Associate
- Don Brown, Senior Fellow
- Ryan Call, Central Region Director
- Ben Carnes, Communications Director
- Jonathan Coppage, Senior Fellow
- Christian Camara, Southeast Region Director
- Melissa Dunlap, Operations Associate
- Mike Godwin, Senior Fellow
- Zach Graves, Technology Policy Program Director
- Steven Greenhut, Western Region Director
- Devin Hartman, Electricity Policy Manager
- Anne Hobson, Technology Policy Fellow
- Anne McCormick Hocine, Program Maven
- Caroline Kitchens, Outreach Associate
- Kevin Kosar, Governance Project Director
- Nathan Leamer, Outreach Manager
- R.J. Lehmann, Editor-in-Chief
- Sasha Moss, Technology Policy Fellow
- Josiah Neeley, Southwest Region Director
- Alex J. Pollock, Distinguished Senior Fellow
- Arthur Rizer, Justice Policy Director
- Catrina Rorke, Energy Policy Director
- Lori Sanders, Outreach Director
- Erica Schoder, Operations Director
- Daniel Semelsberger, Research Assistant
- Alan Smith, Midwest Director
- Cameron Smith, General Counsel
- Joi Washington, Operations Manager
Legislative Advisory Board
According to R Street Institute's website, "A legislative advisory board, made up of state legislators from around the country, helps advise R Street leadership on state-level legislative issues."
- Sen. Joel Anderson, California State Senate (R)
- Sen. Kevin Bacon, Ohio State Senate (R)
- Sen. Alan Hays, Florida State Senate (R)
- Sen. Michael Hough, Maryland State Senate (R)
- Rep. Jason Isaac, Texas House of Representatives (R)
- Sen. Bill Payne, New Mexico State Senate Minority Leader (R)
- Rep. Kim Koopelman, North Dakota House of Representatives (R)
- Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas (R)
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 26-3477125
R Street Institute
Washington, D.C. (Headquarters)
1050 17th Street, NW Suite 1750
Washington DC, 20036
California (Western Region)
717 K Street, Suite. 307
Sacramento, CA 95814
Colorado (Central Region)
1600 Stout St., Ste. 500
Denver, CO 80202
Florida (Southeast Region)
P.O. Box 10577
Tallahassee, FL 32302
Ohio (Midwest Region)
506 N. Parkview Ave.
Columbus, OH 43209
Texas (Southwest Region)
813 Heritage Springs Trail
Round Rock, TX 78664
- R Street Institute, Funding and Expenditures, organizational website, accessed October 11, 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.
- R Street Institute, Alan Smith, organizational website, accessed October 11, 2016.
- Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
- The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
- Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
- Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
- Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 27, 2011.
- Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
- Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
- Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
- The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- R Street Institute, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 15, 2015.
- R Street Institute, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, October 30, 2014.
- R Street Institute, 2012 IRS Form 990 Internal Revenue Service, September 12, 2013.
- R Street Institute, 2011 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 6, 2012.
- R Street Institute, Leadership, organizational website, accessed October 11, 2016.