Thomas W. Smith Foundation

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Thomas W. Smith Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) charity based out of Boca Raton, Florida. The foundation received its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 2015.

The Thomas W. Smith Foundation does not host a website, and the founder "keeps a low profile" according to Popular Information[1]. However, in 2008, the New York Times reported the foundation was "dedicated to supporting free markets".[2]

News and Controversies

Thomas W. Smith Foundation Identified as Major Funder of Anti-CRT Movement

Popular Information investigated the rising hysteria surrounding the academic concept of Critical Race Theory. They found many of the loudest voices in the Anti-CRT movement shared the same major funder, the Thomas W. Smith Foundation. Some of these organizations include the Manhattan Institute, The Heritage Foundation, ALEC, and The State Policy Network. Manhattan Institute senior fellow James Pierson is listed as TWS Foundation's highest paid employee in 2019 and wrote in a Washington Examiner op-ed, "Charitable foundations have felt the great sustained pressure to 'pay up' for alleged sins against the ideals of racial and economic equality. It started out as pressure from a few vocal activists banging on the doors of large foundations. It's turned into a movement in which philanthropic leaders are falling over themselves to throw money at their critics in hopes of mollifying them..." Thomas W. Smith himself is listed as a trustee for the Manhattan Institute.[1]

TWS Foundation Director Opposes 'Postmodernism' in Higher Education Curricula

In 2008, Director James Pierson spoke with the New York Times about a $1 million donation from the TWS foundation to the Political Theory Project at Brown University. He discusses the general movement of conservative organizations toward college campuses, saying they were working "against the thrust of programs and courses in gender, race and class studies, and postmodernism in general."

"Their goal is to restore what conservative and other critics see as leading casualties of the campus culture wars of the 1980s and '90s: teaching of Western culture and a triumphal interpretation of American history", the article states.[2]

Ties to ALEC

Thomas W. Smith Foundation has donated at least $575,000 to the American Legislative Exchange Council since 2017.

About ALEC
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 ExposedbyCMD.org site.

Ties to the State Policy Network

Thomas W. Smith Foundation has donated at least $1,343,600 to the State Policy Network since 2016.

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 2022, SPN's membership totals 166. 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.'"[5]

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.[6]

Grants Distributed

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

Core Financials

2020[7]

  • Total revenue: $13,034,513
  • Total expenses: $14,609,765
  • Net assets: $32,658,745

2019[8]

  • Total revenue: $18,397,811
  • Total expenses: $15,090,287
  • Net assets: $24,927,666

2018[9]

  • Total revenue: $15,993,607
  • Total expenses: $14,802,235
  • Net assets: $19,101,349

2017[10]

  • Total revenue: $206,205
  • Total expenses: $13,981,559
  • Net assets: $16,912,912

2016[11]

  • Total revenue: $21,876,624
  • Total expenses: $11,302,934
  • Net assets: $26,240,247

2015[12]

  • Total revenue: $0
  • Total expenses: $0
  • Net assets: $1,244

Personnel

Directors and Trustees

As of May 2021:[7]

  • Thomas W. Smith, President and chairman
  • Lori Smith Curley, Trustee
  • Diane G. Smith, Vice President and trustee
  • James Piereson, Trustee and director
  • Victoria McKenzie, Trustee
  • Thomas McWilliams, Trustee
  • Randall Giberd, Trustee

Contact Information

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 47-3862135

Thomas W. Smith Foundation
2200 Butts Road
NO. 320
Boca Raton, FL 33431

  • Phone: (561) 314-0800

Articles and Resources

IRS 990 Filings

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015


Articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria, The obscure foundation funding 'Critical Race Theory' hysteria, "Popular Information" July 13, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Patricia Cohen, Conservatives Try New tack on Campuses, "The New York Times", 2008.
  3. David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  4. 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.
  5. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  6. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Thomas W. Smith Foundation, IRS 990 2020, "Thomas W. Smith Foundation", May 10, 2021.
  8. Thomas W. Smith Foundation, IRS 990 2019, "TWS Foundation", May 18, 2020.
  9. Thomas W. Smith Foundation, IRS 990 2018, "TWS Foundation", June 13, 2019.
  10. Thomas W. Smith Foundation, IRS 990 2017, "TWS Foundation", December 17, 2018.
  11. Thomas W. Smith Foundation, IRS 990 2016, "TWS Foundation", May 11, 2017.
  12. Thomas W. Smith Foundation, IRS 990 2015, "TWS Foundation", November 1, 2016.