Kansas Policy Institute

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The Kansas Policy Institute (KPI) is a self described "free market" so-called "think tank," one of many listed as members of the State Policy Network (SPN). Both KPI and SPN are active in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). According to its website, "Education and fiscal policy represent the bulk of KPI’s work in advocating for free markets and the constitutional principles of limited government and personal freedom."[1]

History

KPI was founded in 1996 as the Kansas Public Policy Institute and was later called the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy before receiving its current name. Kansas' Flint Hills also lent their name to the Koch brothers' Flint Hills Resources, a subsidiary of Koch Industries.[2] KPI founded the now closed Kansas Reporter, once an affiliate of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.[3]

News and Controversies

Opposed Kansas Governor's Plan to Delay Reopening Schools Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

In July 2020, Kansas Policy Institute rebuked Gov. Kelly's plan to delay reopening schools stating that increased time away from schools "will often results in social isolation, hampering efforts to address learning deficits and physical and mental health." [4] The KPI believes reopening plans should start with having students physically present. [5]

Filed Lawsuit Against Coronavirus Orders

In May 2020, The Kansas Justice Institute which is an arm of the Kansas Policy Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of two small businesses against Linn County."[6] The law suit "alleges that the directive to businesses, including doctor's and lawyer's offices, to compile information about customers and turn it over to the health department represents a warrant-less search of their records, without giving them a way to appeal the department's actions."[7]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

The Koch brothers have strong ties to KPI. The Charles Koch Foundation, the State Policy Network, Donors Trust, and Donors Capital Fund have all contributed to KPI over the years, all of which have been linked to the Kochs. KPI is also listed as a "partner organization" in the Charles Koch Institute's Liberty@Work program.[8] KPI co-published the debunked Beacon Hill Institute report that ALEC has used for its clean energy standard repeal in Kansas.[9]

In addition, George Pearson, the Chairman of the KPI Board of Trustees is a long time Koch operative who worked for Koch Industries and headed up the Charles Koch Foundation for many years.[10]

Koch Wiki

Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.

Ties to ALEC

KPI's president, Dave Trabert, is a member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.[11] Barry Poulson and Jonathan Williams, Adjunct Fiscal Policy Fellows at KPI, are also associated with the same ALEC task force -- Poulson as an advisor and Williams on staff as the task force director.[12]

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 ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Ties to State Policy Network

Kansas Policy Institute is a member of the State Policy Network and has received at least $54,600 from SPN between 2013-2014.

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of August 2020, SPN's membership totals 162. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million.[13] Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[14]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[15]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[16]

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Kansas Policy Institute founded the Kansas Reporter, an online state news website featuring "investigative journalists" funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.[17] The Kansas Policy Institute 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.[18] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[19] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[20][21] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[22]

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).[23] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[24] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[23]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[25] a conservative grant-making organization.[26]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[27] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[28] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[29] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[30] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

Funding

The KPI is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and therefore is not required to disclose the source of its funding. However, the non-profit has received funding from national organizations that file IRS 990 forms, including:

Core Financials

2018[31]

  • Total Revenue: $1,177,113
  • Total Expenses: $799,573
  • Net Assets: $798,923

2017[32]

  • Total Revenue: $962,348
  • Total Expenses: $763,035
  • Net Assets: $421,383

2016[33]

  • Total Revenue: $868,559
  • Total Expenses: $928,913
  • Net Assets: $222,070

2015[33]

  • Total Revenue: $936,562
  • Total Expenses: $897,883
  • Net Assets: $282,424

2014[34]

  • Total Revenue: $833,087
  • Total Expenses: $889,136
  • Net Assets: $243,745

2013[35]

  • Total Revenue: $763,402
  • Total Expenses: $605,323
  • Net Assets: $299,794

2012[36]

  • Total Revenue: $573,727
  • Total Expenses: $625,557
  • Net Assets: $141,715

Personnel

Staff

As of October 2020:[37]

  • Dave Trabert, CEO
  • James Franko, President
  • Michael Austin, Director of the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government
  • Ellen Hathaway, Communications Director
  • Hannah Nelson, Donor Relations Manager
  • Beth Wasko, Development & Operations Coordinator

Former Staff

  • Scott Phillips, JD, Development Director
  • Patrick Parkes, Fiscal Policy Analyst
  • David Dorsey, Senior Education Policy Fellow
  • Jeff Romine, Development Officer

Board of Trustees

As of October 2020:[10]

  • George Pearson, Board Chair
  • David Gibson, Vice Chairperson
  • Raul Brito
  • Chuck Mackey
  • Phyllis Nolan
  • Priscilla O'Shaughnessy
  • Robert L. Smith, Jr.
  • Nester Weigand
  • Jim Farha
  • Nick Powell
  • John Schulte

Officers

  • Robert Young, Secretary & Treasurer
  • James Franco, Vice President
  • David Trabert, President

Former Trustees

  • Kent Garlinghouse
  • Martin K. Eby, Jr., Member Emeritus

Advisory Council

As of October 2020:[38]

  • Brian Everist, CEO and President of Intercontinental Engineering
  • Al Higdon
  • Ethelmae Humphreys, Chairman of the Board of Directors of TAMKO Building Products
  • Ron Nolan, Founder of Nolan Real Estate Services
  • Colby Sandlian
  • Don Peters, Vice President – Investment Strategy for Freestate Advisors

Former Advisory Council

  • Mike Garvey, President and CEO of Builders
  • David Harvey
  • Nick Powell
  • Jon Schulte, Developer and Partner with Cohen-Esrey Development and Cohen-Esrey Capital
  • John Shawver

Contact Information

Kansas Policy Institute
250 N. Water, Suite 216
Wichita KS, 67202
Phone: 316-634-0218
Website: http://www.kansaspolicy.org
Email: information@kansaspolicy.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KsPolicy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KansasPolicyInstitute

Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

Related SourceWatch Articles


References

  1. Kansas Policy Institute, History and Mission, 2016.
  2. Kansas Policy Institute, About Us: History, organizational website, accessed September 2012
  3. Gene Meyer, Few educational options drive school choice debate in KS, Statehouse News Online (Kansas Reporter), publication of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, January 18, 2012
  4. John Hanna,"Kansas faces push to reopen schools," "The Morning Sun", July 18, 2020.
  5. John Hanna,"Kansas faces push to reopen schools," "The Morning Sun", July 18, 2020.
  6. John Hanna,"State, local coronavirus orders face challenges in Kansas," "KSHB", May 11,2020.
  7. John Hanna,"State, local coronavirus orders face challenges in Kansas," "KSHB", May 11,2020.
  8. Charles Koch Institute, Partner Organizations, Charles Koch Institute, 2016.
  9. Connor Gibson, "Koch Brothers Continue State-by-State Attempts to Stifle Growth of Renewable Energy," Nation of Change, March 17, 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kansas Policy Institute, Board of Trustees, Kansas Policy Institute, 2016.
  11. Kansas Policy Institute, About Us: Staff, organizational website, accessed September 2012
  12. Kansas Policy Institute, About Us: Scholars, organizational website, accessed September 2012
  13. David Armiak, https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2019/11/13/revenue-state-policy-network-state-affiliates-tops-120-million/ Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million], ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  14. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  15. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  16. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  17. Statehouse News Bureaus, Source Watch, accessed March 23, 2012
  18. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  19. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  20. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  21. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  22. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 27, 2011.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  24. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  25. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  26. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  27. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  28. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  29. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  30. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  31. Kansas Policy Institute, 2018 IRS 990 Form, Kansas Policy Institute, November 16, 2019.
  32. Kansas Policy Institute, 2017 IRS 990 Form, Kansas Policy Institute, November 16, 2018.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Kansas Policy Institute, [paper copy 2016 IRS 990 Form], Kansas Policy Institute, November 15, 2017.
  34. Kansas Policy Institute, 2014 IRS 990 Form, Kansas Policy Institute, November 16, 2015.
  35. Kansas Policy Institute, 2013 IRS 990 Form, Kansas Policy Institute, August 4, 2014.
  36. Kansas Policy Institute, 2012 IRS 990 Form, Kansas Policy Institute, July 22, 2013.
  37. Kansas Policy Institute, Staff, Kansas Policy Institute, 2016.
  38. Kansas Policy Institute, Advisory Council, Kansas Policy Institute, 2016.