Foundation for Government Accountability

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The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is a right-wing advocacy group based in Naples, Florida. It is run by former Maine legislator Tarren Bragdon. It is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of state pressure groups that denote themselves as "think tanks" and drive a right-wing agenda in statehouses nationwide.

The FGA describes its own agenda as developing free market public policies that “achieve limited, constitutional government and a robust economy that will be an engine for job creation across [Florida].” The FGA “believes personal liberty and private enterprise are key to our economic future,” the website states.

Bragdon launched the website as part of the Foundation for Government Accountability.

"Nonpartisan Think Tank" or Right-Wing Lobbying Machine?

A 2013 report by Progress Florida and the Center for Media and Democracy notes:[1]

"FGA frequently brags about its influence in state politics and clearly has well-established ties with state legislators. In 2012, for example, FGA bragged that it had 'engaged early on' House and Senate sponsors of HB 1003, a proposal to create a new exemption from tangible personal property (TPP) taxes for businesses with less than $50,000 in business equipment, to successfully influence the legislation. According to FGA’s own post on its website, the organization had 'regular discussions and meetings' with the sponsors of the bill and the Governor’s office. However, FGA did not have a registered lobbyist in Florida in 2012. While a 501(c)(3) non-profit can engage in a limited amount of lobbying, it appears that FGA's outreach to Florida legislators about changing Florida's laws is not so limited. However, its federal tax filings for 2012 have not yet been made publicly available."

In April 2013, FGA registered a lobbyist at the Florida statehouse, its government relations director Chris Hudson. While FGA's website does not disclose this, Hudson is also Florida Public Affairs Director for Strategic Advocacy, a public affairs consulting firm based in Maine and registered as a foreign corporation in Florida. Hudson registered as a lobbyist to represent FGA April 16, 2013, but at around the same time in March and April 2013 he also registered to lobby on behalf of Apalachee Center, Inc., Capitol Insight, LifeStream Behavioral Center, MediSKY LLC, and Mental Health Care, Inc., and in November 2013 he also registered to lobby on behalf of Florida Onsite Wastewater Association.[2]

LifeStream, Apalachee, and Mental Health Care, Inc. are all Medicaid providers in Florida. According to Progress Florida's 2013 report, "Meanwhile, FGA has actively pushed for the expansion of a Florida Medicaid privatization pilot program[3] that has boosted the profits of providers of Medicaid services at the expense of expanded enrollment and patient care, according to critics.[4] FGA’s activity on behalf of the privatization scheme has included presenting the plan to ALEC,[5] [which] endorsed the program’s expansion.[6] Hudson’s representation of firms that rely on government spending comes despite FGA’s and Bragdon’s advocacy for reductions in government spending."[1]

Florida Welfare Drug Testing Controversy

A study funded and written by the organization contributed to Florida Governor Rick Scott's defense of his controversial welfare drug-testing law, requiring benefit recipients to take a drug test as a qualification for benefits. The law came under fire from the ACLU and other groups, and a Bush-appointed federal judge threw out the Foundation's study as evidence, claiming it was "not competent expert opinion" and that "even a cursory review of certain assumptions in the pamphlet undermines its conclusions."[7]


In January 2012 FGA Chief Executive Officer, Tarren Bragdon, created and launched the website The website is an online database of the salaries of Florida’s public employees and is almost an exact replica of a project by Bragdon at his last place of employment, the Maine Heritage Policy Center.[8]

The website is a compilation of “about 35 million public records detailing nearly $1.4 trillion in spending and payroll by state, county, municipality and school,” according to the FGA.[9]

According to a FGA Press Release,[9] data include:

  • County government payroll (FY 1997-2011)
  • Local K-12 public education payroll (FY 1997-2011)
  • State government payroll (1995-2010)
  • Local government spending (FY 1993-2010)
  • State vendor payments (FY 2005-2011)

Florida State Representatives Matt Hudson (R-Naples), Rachel Burgin (R-Tampa Bay), Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington), and City of Longwood Mayor Joe Durso endorsed the website.[8]

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

Through 2016, the Foundation for Government Accountability received $925,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Bradley detailed the most recent grants in internal documents examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Below is a description of the grant prepared by CMD. The quoted text was written by Bradley staff.

2016: $350,000 to support a project on “reducing the welfare state and restoring the working class.” “FGA has worked to advance reforms that move people off of welfare as well. In this case working with the Bradley supported American Legislative Exchange Council, and the Secretaries’ Innovation Group, FGA has conducted research on and public education about the benefits of work requirements and fraud audits.” FGA wants to expand target states from original 22 to include another 19 more.

2015: $350,000 to support public education about Medicaid and a project on reducing the welfare state and restoring the working class. “During the past couple of years, FGA’s principal project has been to educate the policymakers and the public in specifically targeted states about the benefits of rejecting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare… Along with the Bradley supported Galen Institute, (CEO Tarren) Bragdon and FGA have contributed constructively to the health care debate. Its topic specific, in depth focus on state level reform has been of a piece with much of Bradley’s other recent strategic grantmaking—including, among others, to the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Center for Energy Innovation and Independence’s group of state attorneys general, the Goldwater Institute’s state litigation alliance, the Interstate Policy Alliance, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research’s Center for state and Local Leadership, the Sagamore Institute, Think Freely Media, the State Human Service Secretaries’ Innovation Group and the State Policy Network.”

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

The FGA has close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In 2011, CEO Tarren Bragdon presented to ALEC's Health and Human Safety Task Force at the 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona.[10] Bragdon touted the state's controversial Medicaid reform plans and Florida’s welfare drug testing law during the event.[11]

The former director of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force, Christie Herrera, went on to become FGA's vice president of policy.[12].

FGA is also on ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. At the 2012 States and Nation Policy Summit, FGA staff member, Joyce Errecart, presented "Tangible Personal Property Business Taxes."[13]

Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.

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, and check out breaking news on our site.

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Foundation for Government Accountability 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.[14] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[15] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[16][17] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[18]

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).[19] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[20] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[19]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[21] a conservative grant-making organization.[22]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[23] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[24] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[25] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[26] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

Connections to other Right-wing Think Tanks and Groups

Maine Heritage Policy Center

The Foundation's CEO and Director, Tarren Bragdon, is the former head of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a Koch-funded and affiliated right-wing think tank described as very influential within the Maine GOP establishment.[27]

The Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal of Maine, in a profile of Bragdon, noted that his Maine group faced "allegations that its increased involvement in this year's gubernatorial election pushes, if not violates, the political lobbying limits allowed by its tax-exempt status."[28]

Cato Institute

Robert Levy of the Cato Institute is on FGA's board. He has long been active with the Cato Institute, which was founded in 1977 by Charles Koch.[7]

State Policy Network


The Foundation is a state affiliate of the State Policy Network, a web of state pressure groups that denote themselves as "think tanks" and drive a right-wing agenda in statehouses nationwide. Mother Jones writes of the State Policy Network: "Its mission is simple: to back a constellation of state-level think tanks loosely modeled after Heritage that promote free-market principles and rail against unions, regulation, and tax increases. By blasting out policy recommendations and shaping lawmakers’ positions through briefings and private meetings, these think tanks cultivate cozy relationships with GOP politicians. And there’s a long tradition of revolving door relationships between SPN staffers and state governments. While they bill themselves as independent think tanks, SPN’s members frequently gather to swap ideas."[29]


The FGA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and does not disclose the source of its funding. Bragdon has previously said that ”initial donors who were interested in having [him] here” in Florida were responsible for his move to the state.[8] However, the non-profit has received a lot of its funding from national organizations, including:

Core Finances


  • Total Revenue: $6,675,803
  • Total Expenses: $5,907,581
  • Net Assets: $2,101,998

Grants Distributed


  • Total Revenue: $4,521,285
  • Total Expenses: $4,033,458
  • Net Assets: $1,333,776


  • Total Revenue: $3,919,227
  • Total Expenses: $3,736,776
  • Net Assets: $845,949


  • Total Revenue: $4,052,421
  • Total Expenses: $3,924,746
  • Net Assets: $663,498


  • Total Revenue: $1,970,689
  • Total Expenses: $1,418,627
  • Net Assets: $535,823


  • Total Revenue: $731,950
  • Total Expenses: $736,756
  • Net Assets: $55,649

Grants Distributed


  • Total Revenue: $212,194
  • Total Expenses: $151,739
  • Net Assets: $60,455



As of October 2018:[37]

  • Tarren Bragdon, President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Jonathan Bechtle, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel (former CEO of the Freedom Foundation in Washington State)
  • Kelly Fischer, Executive Operations Manager
  • Jonathan Ingram, Vice President of Policy Research, former Vice President of Research
  • Sam Adolphsen, Policy Director, formerly Vice President of Executive Affairs
  • Joel Allumbaugh, Visiting Fellow
  • Josh Archambault, Senior Fellow
  • Jonathan Bain, Research Fellow
  • Scott Centorino, Senior Fellow
  • Vicotria Eardley, Research Fellow
  • Greg George, Senior Research Fellow
  • Nick Stehle, Senior Research Fellow
  • Nicholas Adolphsen, Government Affairs Director
  • Shannon Alford, Government Affairs Director
  • Judy Cook, Development outreach directors, Former Donor Relations Manager
  • Tom Newell, Government Affairs Director
  • Gregg Pfister, Government Affairs Director, former Legislative Relations Director
  • Kristina Rasmussen, Senior Fellow, former Vice President of Federal Affairs
  • Dan Remmenga, External Relations Director
  • Megan Schmidt, State Affairs Coordinator
  • Robin Walker, Senior Director of Federal Affairs, former Director of Federal Affairs
  • Whitney Munro, Vice President of Communications
  • Corina Gilbert, Creative Director
  • Mikayla Hall, Communications Manager
  • James Miller, Digital Marketing Director
  • Kelsey Phillie, Communications Director
  • James Scimecca, Communications Manager
  • Donlyn Turnbull, Digital Content Director

Former Staff

  • Jared Meyer, Senior Research Fellow
  • Christie Herrera, Vice President of State Affairs and Policy Fellow
  • Mary Katherine Stout, Senior Fellow
  • Kim Borchers, Director of Executive Leadership Development
  • Jonathan Ingram,
  • Nicholas Horton, Research Director
  • Ashley Ciandella, Events and Scheduling Director,
  • Chad Goote, Vice President of Advancement
  • Kelly Fischer, Operations Manager
  • John Marzolph, Digital Outreach Director
  • Kim Borchers, Director of Executive Leadership Development
  • Andrew Brown, Visiting Fellow
  • Vail Horton, Strategic Development Officer
  • Brad Brackins, Research Fellow
  • Whitney Neal, Director of Marketing
  • Kristina Ribali, Senior Coalitions Director
  • Charles Siler, Media Relations Director
  • Erik Makrush, Director of Operations
  • Chris Hudson, Government Relations (although not disclosed on FGA's website, Hudson is also Florida Public Affairs Director for Strategic Advocacy, a public affairs consulting firm based out of Maine and registered as a foreign corporation in Florida -- Hudson registered as a lobbyist to represent FGA April 16, 2013, as well as LifeStream Behavioral Center, Mental Health Care, Inc., and Apalachee Center, Inc. -- all of which are Medicaid providers in Florida -- in March and April of 2013.)[2]
  • Zachary Crockett, Operations Coordinator
  • Joyce Errecart, Senior Fellow for Tax Policy
  • Chris Cinquemani, Chief Communications Officer
  • Joyce Errecart, Senior Fellow for Tax Policy
  • Joseph Burk, PhD, Fellow for Entrepreneurship
  • Darcie Johnston, Development
  • Megan Teague, Research Fellow

Board of Directors

As of Septemeber 2019:[38]

  • Tarren Bragdon, President and CEO
  • Andrea Forrest Brock(Zoneup, Inc.; married to Republican former Vermont State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock)
  • Bob Harden
  • Robert Levy (Chairman of the Board, Cato Institute)
  • Betty Neighbors
  • Stephen Pryor
  • Bridgett Wagner

Former Directors

  • William A. Dunn (DUNN Capital Management)

Contact Information

Foundation for Government Accountability
Suite 201-279
15275 Collier Blvd
Naples, FL 34119
Phone: 239.244.8808
Fax: 239.217.4397

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

Related PRWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Progress Florida and Center for Media and Democracy, The James Madison Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability: Lawmaking under the Influence of Very Special Interests, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Florida Legislature, 2013 REGISTRATIONS BY LOBBYIST NAME, state governmental website, accessed November 11, 2013, pp. 167-168.
  3. Chris Cinquemani, Foundation for Government Accountability, ADVISORY: Congressional Committee to Hear Testimony from FGA President Tarren Bragdon on Pro-Patient, Pro-Taxpayer Medicaid Reform, organizational press advisory, July 8, 2013.
  4. John Dorschner, Can Florida’s Medicaid reform plan be the model for the nation?, Miami Herald, September 29, 2012.
  5. Chris Cinquemani, Foundation for Government Accountability, RELEASE – Think Tank Featured at ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force, organizational press release, December 5, 2011.
  6. Tarren Bragdon, Foundation for Government Accountability, ALEC Supports Florida’s Statewide Medicaid Reform, organizational publication, October 18 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ashley Lopez, New 'free market' think tank sets its sights on 2012 legislative session Florida Independent, November 2, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Ashley Lopez, Right-Wing Think Tank leaks salaries of public employees via new website, Washington Independent, January 9, 2012.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Chris Cinquemani, Foundation for Government Accountability, Release: Nearly $1.4 Trillion in Government Spending Data Now Just a Few Clicks Away, organizational press release, January 9, 2012.
  10. Foundation for Government Accountability, "Release: Think Tank Featured at ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force", organizational website, accessed December 2012.
  11. Ashley Lopez, New right-wing think tank touts Medicaid reform and welfare drug testing at ALEC event, Florida Independent, January 6, 2012.
  12. Foundation for Government Accountability, Staff, organizational website, accessed December 2012.
  13. American Legislative Exchange Council, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force meeting agenda and materials, organizational document, November 29, 2012, obtained and released by the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause.
  14. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  15. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  16. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  17. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  18. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source,, October 27, 2011.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  20. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  21. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  22. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  23. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  24. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  25. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  26. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  27. Ben Wolford, Maine man: Young political upstart from New England starts Naples-based think tank, Naples Daily News, October 17 2011.
  28. Steve Mistler, Playing to win: Conservative think tank Maine Heritage Policy Center rankles left with activism, anonymous donors, Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, September 7, 2010.
  29. Andy Kroll, The Right-Wing Network Behind the War on Unions, Mother Jones, April 24, 2011.
  30. Foundation for Government Accountability, 2016 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, Nov 24, 2018
  31. Foundation for Government Accountability, [paper copy 2016 Form 990], annual organizational IRS filing, Dec 12, 2017
  32. Foundation for Government Accountability, [paper copy 2015 Form 990], annual organizational IRS filing, November 1, 2016.
  33. Foundation for Government Accountability, 2014 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, November 4, 2015.
  34. Foundation for Government Accountability, 2013 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, September 18, 2014.
  35. Foundation for Government Accountability, 2012 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, November 14, 2013.
  36. Foundation for Government Accountability, 2011 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, October 15, 2012.
  37. Foundation for Government Accountability, Team, organizational website, accessed September 2016.
  38. Foundation for Government Accountability, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed September 2019.