The Congressional Institute, Inc. is a Washington, D.C. organization that conducts research and hosts seminars on topics such as health care, taxes, energy, and the environment. The Institute is a non-profit organization funded by corporate contributions and run by top Republican lobbyists.
Links to tobacco interests
Mission and expenditures
Since 1987, the Institute has spent millions of dollars to send lawmakers and their staff to the annual GOP leadership, chief of staff, and bicameral retreats. The Institute has worked with the House and Senate Republican Conferences to set up retreat agendas, develop discussion materials for members, and select speakers at the institute's meetings. 
The Institute holds at least one retreat for Republican leaders each year, and another for all House and Senate Republicans, usually at the Greenbrier, a resort in the West Virginia mountains, or other resorts in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. In 2005, the luncheon speaker at the was President George W. Bush. 
Conferences involve panels on policy topics of the day, from tax reform to Social Security. "We're not an advocacy organization; we don't take stands on issues and don't try to sell solutions," claims Jerome F. Climer, president of the organization. "We do work on complicated issues, unbundle them." 
According to travel records filed by members of Congress, during the period January 2000 - June 2005, the organization spent $61,000 on 74 trips, all for Republicans. 
The Congressional Institute has drawn interest as a conduit through which lobbyists exert their influence without abiding by ethics rules. Ethics rules prohibit lobbyists from directly financing trips for members of Congress, but there are no such prohibitions on travel provided by nonprofit charitable and educational groups. According to a 2005 examination of congressional travel performed by the St. Petersburg Times, lobbyists often dominate the boards of directors of tax-exempt, nonprofit groups like the Congressional Institute, that take lawmakers on trips and retreats.
While the practice abides by the letter of the law, transparency advocates point out that the activities of these groups make a mockery of the intent of the law, and that the practice is "just one more faucet pouring big money into politics."
Executives and Board of Directors
- Jerome F. Climer, the president of the institute, was chief of staff to Congressman Ed Bethune (R-Arkansas) from 1978 to 1984. 
- Mary Tavenner Walker, the vice president, began her career on the staff of Senator Charles H. Percy (R-Ill) and later served as Legislative Assistant to the late Congressman Bill Emerson (R-MO). 
- Amy Mertzeis, Executive Assistant
Board of Directors
- Michael S. Johnson, Chairman a former Republican aide and a lobbyist for the OB-C Group.
- Barbara A. Morris-Lent, Vice-Chair
- Kevin Burke, Secretary
- Mary C. Sophos, Treasurer
- Jerome F. Climer, President
- Gary Andres of the Dukto Group
- David A. Bockorny of lobbying firm Bergner, Bockorny, Castagnetti, Hawkins & Brain
- Frank Cantrel
- Marcel Dubois
- Duane Duncan
- Bruce A. Gates from Ernst & Young
- Mary E. McAuliffe
- Dan Meyer of the Duberstein Group
- Edward Hamberger a lobbyist and chairman of the Association of American Railroad, which has spent $46-million on lobbying since 1998, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
- Kenneth Cole, Vice President for Global Public Policy and Government Relations at General Motors. 
According to the group's tax returns for 2002 and 2003, the institute had about 40 donors who gave a total of about $2.3 million each year. Most of those donors, including UPS, SBC Communications, Verizon, and Union Pacific Corporation, are represented by one or more of the lobbyists on the institute's
The Congressional Institute
401 Wythe St. #103
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: (703) 837-8817
Phone: (703) 837-8812
Email: info At conginst.org
Congressional Institute Data
- John Stanton, "Congressional Institute Has Key GOP Role", Congress Daily/Am, May 1, 2005. (Accessed via Factiva).
- Wes Allison, "Do travel rules cloak lobbyists' influence?", Saint Petersburg Times, May 8, 2005.
- Steve Henn, "Power Trips", American Radio Works, June 2005.
- Dan Froomkin, "About the Congressional Institute", Washington Post, December 2, 2005
- "The Bankrollers" Public Citizen, May 2006. (Pdf)
- Center for Public Integrity, "Power Trips: Congressional Institute", June 5, 2006.