Thursday, March 14, 2013

Arizona's anti-union Koch-linked 'stink tank' exposed

Not happy with the Institute.
A new report exposes the shady financial dealings of the Goldwater Institute, Arizona's pro-billionaire lobbying group masquerading as a think tank.

You can call it a stink tank. And yes, it's linked to the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers.

Tony Ortega, writing in the Phoenix New Times, aptly described Goldwater more than 20 years ago:
Working on behalf of big-business contributors, the institute's members are really lobbyists churning out right-wing agitprop.
Ortega reported that the man for whom the Institute was named, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, was unhappy that the organization had turned into a special-interest, big business lobbying group. Goldwater had a debilitating stroke before he could make the changes he wanted.

Today's report delves deeper into the nonprofit (!) organization's questionable activities. It was released by Arizona Working Families and the Center for Media and Democracy. The report revealed:
  • Self-dealing by a board member. Norman McClelland's company, Shamrock Farm Co. Investing, was loaned up to $1.9 million from the Goldwater Institute. 
  • Acceptance of tax dollars despite opposition to government spending: In 2011, the Goldwater Institute received $1 million from taxpayers for attorney fees from a lawsuit challenging Arizona clean election law.
  • Apparent failure to comply with laws on lobbying disclosure: Emails reveal a Goldwater staffer who is not registered as a lobbyist directly communicating with lawmakers in favor of legislation. Goldwater staff sent a steady stream of communication to Arizona legislators, but told the IRS it only spent $184 on grassroots lobbying and $17,445 on direct lobbying, for a total of $17,669 in lobbying expenses in 2011.
  • Funding by out-of-state billionaires: A review of IRS filings and other documents from foundations shows Goldwater's largest donors are foundations supported by anti-worker billionaires, including the Koch brothers and the Wal-Mart heirs. 
The Arizona Republic reported:
The Goldwater Institute waves the banner of freedom but uses its financial and philosophical influence to advance an agenda that promotes corporations over people.
Nor will you be surprised to learn Goldwater is in bed, so to speak, with ALEC, the escort service for corporations and lawmakers. According to the report, Goldwater staff writes for ALEC’s publications, like “Inside ALEC,” and urges ALEC lawmakers at ALEC meetings to embrace its agenda, including specific bills.

ALEC, of course, was behind No Rights At Work laws in Michigan and Indiana. More than 100 ALEC-linked bills to suppress wages were filed in 32 state legislatures since 2011.

Read the whole report here.