The Independent Institute has been a vocal opponent of the "war on drugs", immigration restrictions, corporate welfare, censorship, the neoconservative ("Bush Doctrine") of pre-emptive war, restrictions on reproductive rights, and the death penalty. Some of their analysts oppose the dominant view of scientists of the need for urgent action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
However they are also part of the libertarian think-tank phenomenon and in (about) 1992 the Institute under Robert Higgs took over the administration of the tobacco industry's Cash for Comments Economists Network from Robert Tollison, James Savarese and the Center for the Study of Public Choice.
|The Independent Institute/Personnel|
|Independent Institute (Doc Index)|
|David J. Theroux Robert Higgs|
|Cash for Comments Economists Network|
TII, Microsoft Money and Oracle's Private Investigators
In May 1999 The Independent Institute published the book Winners, Losers and Microsoft: Competition and Antitrust in High Technology by Stan J. Liebowitz and Stephen E. Margolis. A media release promoting the book stated that the book "makes a compelling case that the real danger to American high technology leadership is a too powerful, too intrusive government which believes it knows consumer preferences and needs better than they do." 
On June 2, 1999 The Independent Institute "sponsored" full-page advertisements - titled Open Letter on Antitrust Protectionism - in the Washington Post and the New York Times. The ads were signed by 240 academic economists and claimed "headline-grabbing cases against Microsoft, Intel, Cisco Systems, Visa and MasterCard, along with a flurry of merger investigations now under way, would appear to demonstrate the need for a vigorously enforced antitrust policy that will create checks and balances to eliminate consumer harm. However, consumers did not ask for these antitrust actions — rival business firms did.  (Pdf) (See accompanying media release). The advertisement also promoted Winners, Losers and Microsoft: Competition and Antitrust in High Technology. The same day, TII held a media conference in Washington D.C. unveiling the advertisements as well, co-inciding with the resumption of the anti-trust trial involving Microsoft.
A little over three months later New York Times reporter Joel Brinkley revealed that the advertisements had been paid for by Microsoft. Public relations manager for the company, Greg Shaw, told Brinkley that "we thought this was an important, substantive letter, and we were interested in contributing to making it visible. In our view, the letter speaks for itself."  Based on internal TII documents "provided to The New York Times by a Microsoft adversary associated with the computer industry who refused to be further identified", Brinkley revealed that Microsoft "has secretly served as the institute's largest outside financial benefactor in the last year." 
Brinkley reported that while the Institute's Theroux had "long acknowledged" Microsoft as a funder of the think tank, he downplayed the company's role as being "just one of 2,000 members" which had paid an annual membership fee of roughly $10,000 a year. Theroux told Brinkley that all Microsoft gained was "free copies of our publications, discounted tickets to our events" and denied that Microsoft had any role with the newspaper ads which he said were "were paid for out of our general funds." 
However, TII internal documents revealed that Microsoft had contributed $203,217 for the year to that June, making it the single largest contributor. Brinkley calculated that Microsoft's contribution amounted to approximately 20% of the funds in that year from external sources,excluding $304,725 that Theroux contributed to his own foundation. 
One of the documents provided to Brinkley was a bill for $153,868.67 covering the cost of the ads plus Theroux's travel expenses from San Francisco to Washington for the news conference. The bill was sent to Microsoft's John Kelly. When asked by Brinkley about the bill Theroux confimed that Microsoft had paid for the ads but claimed it made no difference. "The academic process we use is independent of sources of revenue," he said. 
When contacting the academics to sign on to their advertisement, TII did not disclose Microsoft's funding. One of the At least one academic who signed the ad disagreed. Simon Hakim, an economist at Temple University told Brinkley "He should have told us. I would not have participated if I had known. It's not right to use people as a vehicle for special interests," he said.  Nor did Stan Liebowitz, one of the co-authors of the TII published book Winners, Losers and Microsoft, know of the company's funding though he stated "it doesn't matter to me." 
The day after Brinkley's article appeared, Theroux issued a media release focussing on the origin of the documents from a Microsoft adversary and claiming they had been "stolen". However, Theroux did not dispute the specific funding amounts referred to. He stated that "our final year-end records do not agree with the numbers he had been provided by his source" and claimed that at the media conference he had stated that the Microsoft funding amounted only to 7%. "It now appears the final figure is about 8%, a statistically insignificant difference, and far less than the 20% figure Mr. Brinkley claimed in his article," Theroux claimed. 
In June 2000 the Wall Street Journal revealed that the the Independent Institute's funding documents had been obtained by by staff of Investigative Group International, a private investigation firm hired by Microsoft's rival Oracle. The WSJ reported that while Theroux suspected they had been stolen, those familiar with the operation hinted that they were obtained by rifling through the think tank's office trash. 
Much of the Anti-Global Warming rhetoric published by The Independent Institute is the work of a few persons, and one stands out, both in quantity of releases, as well as notoriety, S. Fred Singer who ran the climate-denial tobacco-funded organisation Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP).
Other analysts at the Independent Institute agreed that the environment was a pressing concern, including the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. Where they dissented from current environmental theory is in their proposed methodologies for remediation; they propose strong private property and free market solutions rather than regulation, a libertarian model for environmentalism.
|Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives|
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.
Robert D. Tollison, Richard E. Wagner and Thomas Gale Moore are members of the Board of Advisors at the Independent Institute, Gary Anderson, Robert Ekelund, Dwight R. Lee, Mark Thornton and S. Fred Singer are Research Fellows and Richard Vedder is a Senior Fellow .
All of the above have a long history of working for the Tobacco Institute (TI) and/or Philip Morris and all nine were also members of the 'Academic Advisory Board' for the pro-tobacco junk science report 'Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination' published by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI) on August 11, 1994. AdTI received money from both TI and Philip Morris. (See: AdTI-Funding)
On its website TII states that it "receives no government funding. Instead, it draws its support from a diverse range of foundations, businesses and individuals, and the sale of its publications and other services."  The Institute does not list its contributors on its website, stating their rationale for this is in compliance with the Donor's Bill of Rights. However, the Donor's Bill of Rights does not require secrecy.
However, some funders of the Institute have been identified. These include:
- Philip Morris contributed a donation of $10,000 in 1997  and a donation of $25,000 in 1998. 
- Exxon donated $10,000 in 1998 ; $5,000 in 2000 and 2001, $10,000 as Exxon Mobil in 2002 ; $10,000 in 2003 and $30,000 in 2005. 
- The San Francisco Foundation contributed $10,000 in fiscal year 2000 (July 1, 1999-June 30, 2000) ()
According to Media Transparency, TII has received $718,000 (unadjusted for inflation) between 1995 and 2005.  Grants have included those from:
- The John M. Olin Foundation gave in 1996 to The Independent Institute $40,000 for "The promotion of two books: The Diversity Myth, by David O. Sacks and Peter a Thiel; and The Melting Pot, by Richard K. Vedder and Lowell E. Gallaway" and in 1998 another $25,000 for "The Institute's book program".
- The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation gave in 1995 - 2001 in total $160,000 for "General Operating Support".
- The Earhart Foundation gave in 1998 - 2001 in total $46,095 to support editor Dr. Robert Higgs.
- The Castle Rock Foundation gave in 2002 for "General operating support" $25,000.
The number of personnel involved in the Independent Institute as Directors, Senior Fellows, Research Fellows and others is so extensive that it has been posted to a separate page. See The Independent Institute/Personnel
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428
Phone: (510) 632-1366
Fax: (510) 568-6040
web site: http://www.independent.org
- Independent Institute, Oakland, CA, Media Transparency, 2002
- Charity Navigator rating of The Independent Institute, August 28, 2006
TII, Microsoft and Anti-Trust Law
- Dominick T. Armentano, Antitrust and Monopoly, The Independent Institute, 199. ISBN 0-945999-62-3
- Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis, Winners, Losers, & Microsoft: Competition and Antitrust in High Technology, The Independent Institute, 1999. ISBN 0-945999-80-1 (Hardback); ISBN 0-945999-84-4 (Softback).
- The Independent Institute, "Open Letter on Antitrust Protectionism", June 2, 1999
- Joel Brinkley, "'Unbiased' Ads for Microsoft Came at a Price", New York Times, September 18, 1999.
- David J. Theroux, "Winners, Losers & Microsoft - Strikes a Sensitive Nerve, Response to New York Times Article", The Independent Institute, September 19, 1999.
- David Callahan, "The Think Tank As Flack, How Microsoft and other corporations use conservative policy groups", Washington Monthly, September 1999.
- Uriel Wittenberg, The Independent Institute", Uriel Wittenberg, 1999.
- Jacob Sullum, "Flack Catcher", ReasonOnline, November 3, 1999.
- Uriel Wittenberg, "Flack Journalist’s Defense Confirms Flackhood", Uriel Wittenberg, May 27, 2000.
- Declan McCullagh, "MS Espionage: Cash for Trash", Wired News, June, 15, 2000.
- Declan McCullagh, "Who's Digging Up MS Dirt?", Wired News, June 16, 2000.
- Ted Bridis, and Mylene Mangalindan, "Oracle-MS flap -- how it happened", ZDNet News, June 28, 2000. (This was originally published in the Wall Street Journal).
- Ted Bridis, and Mylene Mangalindan, "Oracle-MS flap -- how it happened Part ii", ZDNet News, June 28, 2000. (This was originally published in the Wall Street Journal).
- The Independent Institute, "Statement from The Independent Institute on Oracle’s Sponsorship of Smear Campaign: Facts Refute Oracle CEO’s Wild Claims that Institute is a 'Front Group' that Received 'Secret Funding' from Microsoft", Media Release, June 28, 2000.
- Declan McCullagh, ""'Twas Oracle That Spied on MS" Wired News - , June 28, 2000.
- "Larry Meets Terry", Wall Street Journal Online, June 29, 2000.
- David Theroux, ""A Challenge to Oracle", Letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2000.
- The Independent Institute, "Institute Responds to 'Trust Us, We're Experts' Authors' Fantasy", Media Release, February 7, 2001.
- John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, "Us, We're Anti-Antitrust", Media Channel, February 14, 2001.
TII Reports on Environmental Issues
- Roger E. Meiners, Bruce Yandle, "The Common Law Solution to Water Pollution - The Path Not Taken", The Independent Institute, Research Report, April 1, 1992
- David J. Theroux, "Property Rights v. Environmental Ruin", Independent Institute, Research Report, August 1, 1994
- Randy T. Simmons, "Markets Key to Saving Our Endangered Species", Independent Institute, Research Report, January 1, 1995
- Jane S. Shaw, "Private Property Rights, Not Ideologies, Are the Crux"(PDF), The Independent Review, Volume 7 Number 1, Summer 2002
- Tracy Wates, "Banking in Endangered Species", Independent Institute Commentary, September 23, 2002
- Jeffrey R. Clark and Dwight R. Lee, "Global Warming and Its Dangers"(PDF), The Independent Review, Volume 8 Number 4, Spring 2004
- Franklin Lopez, "Sustainable Development and Institutional Failure: The Case of Ecuador"(PDF), The Independent Review, Volume 9 Number 3, Winter 2005
- Mark Pennington, "Liberty, Markets, and Environmental Values: A Hayekian Defense of Free-Market Environmentalism"(PDF), The Independent Review, Volume 10 Number 1, Summer 2005