Illinois Policy Institute
Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. The IPI describes itself as a "leading independent research and education organization." It claims that "the ultimate sign of success is when free market ideas are turned into law and change lives for the better."
IPI has two related non-profit organizations: the Liberty Justice Center and the Government Accountability Alliance.
- 1 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
- 2 Local Right to Work and Lawsuits in Illinois
- 3 Funding and Finances
- 4 Personnel
- 5 Contact Details
- 6 References
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). IPI was on the host committee for the 2013 ALEC Annual Conference, and “Vice Chairman” level sponsor of the 2013 ALEC Annual Conference ($25,000).
In 2011, Brian Costin, IPI Director of Outreach, and Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Policy, represented IPI on ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. At the 2011 Annual Meeting, Costin introduced the "Local Government Transparency Act" model legislation, and Dabrowski introduced the "Pension Funding and Fairness Act" model legislation for adoption by the task force. The latter was adopted and proceeded to the ALEC Board of Directors for approval. Executive Vice President Kristina Rasmussen represented IPI on the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force as of April 2010, when she penned an article entitled "Pension Funding Reform: A Solution for Budget Deficits" for ALEC's newsletter, Inside ALEC.
IPI is also a member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC's 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit.
Please see SPN Ties to ALEC for more.
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.
Local Right to Work and Lawsuits in Illinois
The village board of Lincolnshire, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, passed a local "Right to Work" ordinance in December 2015. On February 18, 2016, a federal lawsuit was filed by four unions challenging the legality of the ordinance. One of the unions also filed a lawsuit in Lake County alleging that the village board had violated open meetings laws when it passed the ordinance. In January 2016 the Liberty Justice Center, a law firm affiliated with the Illinois Policy Institute, "entered into an agreement with the village hall...to provide Lincolnshire with pro-bono legal representation in its defense of the ordinance," according to the Chicago Tribune. Lawyers with the Liberty Justice Center confirmed to the Chicago Tribune in April 2016 that they would represent Lincolnshire in the two lawsuits related to the ordinance. At that time, the lawsuits had not been resolved.
Funding and Finances
IPI does not list its funders publicly. Its website states: "Because the Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization, our supporters’ names are kept private, although donors are free to share their reasons for supporting our efforts."
IPI's known funders have included the State Policy Network and the donor-advised funds DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund (see below), as well as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Center for Independent Thought, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.
Ties to DonorsTrust, a Koch Conduit
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
A report by the Center for Public Integrity exposes a number of DonorsTrust funders, many of which have ties to the Koch brothers. One of the most prominent funders is the Knowledge and Progress Fund, a Charles Koch-run organization and one of the group's largest known contributors, having donated at least $8 million since 2005. Other contributors known to have donated at least $1 million to DonorsTrust include the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation, Searle Freedom Trust, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation.
Since its inception in 1999, DonorsTrust has been used by conservative foundations and individuals to discretely funnel nearly $400 million to like-minded think tanks and media outlets. According to the organization's tax documents, in 2011 DonorsTrust contributed a total of $86 million to right-wing organizations. Many recipients had ties to the State Policy Network (SPN), a wide collection of conservative state-based think tanks and media organizations that focus on shaping public policy and opinion.
In 2013, the Center for Media and Democracy released a special report on SPN. Those who received DonorsTrust funding included media outlets such as the Franklin Center and the Lucy Burns Institute, as well as think tanks such as SPN itself, the Heartland Institute, Illinois Policy Institute, Independence Institute, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, South Carolina Policy Council, American Legislative Exchange Council, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and the Cascade Policy Institute.
Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
The Illinois 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. The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states. Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias. On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."
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). Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article. Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.
The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM), a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network, which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation. SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.
- Liberty Justice Center (a related tax-exempt organization): $225,000
- Donors Trust: $110,000
- Liberty Justice Center (a related tax-exempt organization): $150,000
- Think Freely Media: $365,000
- Donors Trust: $5,000
- Donors Trust: $125,293
- Total Revenue: $3,424,206
- Total Expenses: $3,091,020
- Reported Lobbying Expenditures: $25,777
- Net Assets: $784,902
- Total Revenue: $3,701,372
- Total Expenses: $3,658,188
- Reported Lobbying Expenditures: $18,616
- Net Assets: $451,716
- Total Revenue: $2,875,519
- Total Expenses: $2,643,618
- Reported Lobbying Expenditures: $13,678
- Net Assets: $408,532
- Total Revenue: $1,791,057
- Total Expenses: $1,732,183
- Net Assets: $176,631
- Total Revenue: $1,469,110
- Total Expenses: $1,327,172
- Net Assets: $117,757
Board of Directors
- William (Bill) G. Becker, III (co-founder of Maine Heritage Policy Center)
- Steve Brown
- Terry T. Campo, Vice-Chairman
- Elizabeth Christie
- John Tillman, CEO
- Richard T. Weiss
- John Tillman, CEO
- Kristina Rasmussen, Executive Vice President
- Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Policy
- Daniel Anthony, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
- Matt Paprocki, Senior Director of Government Affairs
- Rebecca Kohn, Senior Manager of External Relations
- Brian Costin, Director of Government Reform
- Paul Kersey, Director of Labor Policy
- Jonathan Ingram, Director of Health Policy and Pension Reform
- Benjamin VanMetre, Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst
- Josh Dwyer, Director of Education Reform
- Diana Rickert, Director of Media Relations
- Jean Hutton, Operations Manager
- Roxane Tyssen, External Relations Associate
- Jen Dillman, Regional Director of External Relations, Central and Southern Illinois
- Scott Reeder, Journalist in Residence
- MaryAnn McCabe, External Relations Associate
- Chris Andriesen, Outreach Coordinator
- Jane McEnaney, Policy Outreach Manager
- Hilary Gowins, Editor
- Heather Wilhelm, Senior Fellow, Communications
- J. Scott Moody, Senior Fellow for Budget and Tax Policy
- Jerry Agar, Multimedia Fellow
- Don Soifer, Senior Fellow, Education
- Andrew Busch, Senior Fellow, Finance and Markets
- Leonard Gilroy, Senior Fellow, Regulation and Privatization
- Donna Arduin, Senior Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
- John Hill, Senior Fellow, Energy Policy
- Jim Porterfield, Senior Fellow, Health Care Policy
- Marc Levine, Senior Fellow, Pension and Investment Policy
- John Stephen, JD, Senior Fellow, Health Care Policy
- Jonathan Bean, Southern Illinois University
- Rik Hafer, Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville
- William J. Kresse, Saint Xavier University
- Patrick Mullen, University of Illinois - Springfield
- Robert Podlasek, Bradley University
Illinois Policy Institute
190 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1630
Chicago, IL 60603
John Tillman, CEO
Illinois Policy Institute
802 South 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62704
Kristina Rasmussen, Executive Vice President
- "About Us", accessed November 2012
- Illinois Policy Institute, 2013 Form 990, organizational tax filing.
- Lisa Graves, More Corporations Drop Off ALEC’s Conference Brochure, PRWatch, August 15, 2013.
- Lisa Graves, ALECexposed: List of Corporations and Special Interests that Underwrote ALEC’s 40th Anniverary Meeting, PRWatch, August 15, 2013.
- American Legislative Exchange Council, "Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Meeting," agenda and meeting materials, August 4, 2011, on file with CMD
- American Legislative Exchange Council Inside ALEC April 2010, organization newsletter, April 2010, p. 11
- American Legislative Exchange Council, Health and Human Services Task Force meeting agenda and materials, August 4, 2011, on file with CMD
- American Legislative Exchange Council, Education Task Force meeting agenda and materials, April 6, 2012, on file with CMD
- Ronnie Wachter, "Lincolnshire faces state and federal lawsuits over right-to-work law," Chicago Tribune, February 23, 2016.
- Ronnie Wachter, "Conservative think tank confirms it will defend Lincolnshire in two lawsuits brought by unions," Chicago Tribune, April 19, 2016.
- Illinois Policy Institute, About Us: FAQs, organizational site, accessed September 6, 2011
- Illinois Policy Institute, recipient profile, Conservative Transparency database, accessed March 2016.
- Cato Institute, 2006 Annual Report, pages 19-23.
- Paul Abowd, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, The Center for Public Integrity, February 14, 2013, accessed July 1, 2014
- Donors Trust, GuideStar.org, IRS form 990, 2011, accessed June 2014
- Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
- The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
- Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
- Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
- Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 27, 2011.
- Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
- Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
- Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
- The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
- Illinois Policy Institute, 2012 Form 990, organizational tax filing.
- Illinois Policy Institute, 2012 Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 15, 2012.
- Illinois Policy Institute, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
- Illinois Policy Institute, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.