Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stink Tanks exposed as front groups for Koch brothers

A national network of stink think tanks is quietly pushing the agenda of anti-worker groups with funding from Koch brothers-affiliated organizations, according to a report released today.

Today our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy exposed the State Policy Network, which claims to fund 'independent' think tanks in all 50 states. The State Policy Network, disturbingly, is tax-exempt and so are the stink tanks it funds.

SPN's stink tanks use 'dark money' from the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers and their ilk to push an anti-worker, anti-consumer corporate-empowerment agenda in the states -- while pretending to be nonpartisan.

If this is sounding a lot like the corporate dating service for state lawmakers known as ALEC, it is. Lisa Graves, executive director of the CMD, told Politico the SPN, like ALEC, is part of the Kochtopus.

According to CMD:
SPN has played a major role in supporting ALEC, serving as a "chairman" level sponsor of the 2013 and 2011 ALEC Annual Conferences and acting as a voting member of several task forces. SPN affiliates push parts of ALEC's agenda in their respective states, and ALEC is also an associate member of SPN. SPN and its affiliates have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to ALEC. 
Politico quoted Graves today:
“These aren’t just little think tanks that are doing nonpartisan research based on what’s happening in the state and really reflective of the culture of those states,” said Lisa Graves....“These are a lot of groups that put together pretty cooked books on the issues they are peddling and have been criticized in state after state for how shoddy their research has been.” 
In a press statement, Graves said,
The 'experts' of State Policy Network groups get quoted on TV, in the papers, or in the legislature as if they were nonpartisan, objective scholars on issues of public policy. But in reality, SPN is a front for corporate interests with an extreme national policy agenda tied to some of the most retrograde special interests in the country, including the billionaire Koch brothers, the Waltons, the Bradley Foundation, the Roe Foundation, and the Coors family.

Teamsters have tangled with these groups before. In Wisconsin, the MacIver Institute promoted job-killer  Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting Act 10 as good for the economy. It wasn't.

In Michigan, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy pushed job-killer Gov. Rick Snyder's right to work for less law with the same arguments and the same results. In Missouri, it's the Show-Me Institute. In Ohio, the Buckeye Institute. And so on.

If you're getting a whiff of foul odors from your state capital, check out the CMD's new website, If you think it's a stink tank, it probably is.