Cascade Policy Institute

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The Cascade Policy Institute is an Oregon-based think tank and member of the State Policy Network (SPN). It was co-founded by Tracie Sharp, who as of August 2016 was the President and CEO of SPN.[1] Cascade states as its mission "to develop and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity."[2]

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.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

The Cascade Policy Institute has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) through their former vice president, Todd Wynn, who in 2012 was the director of the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.[3][4]

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 Cascade 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.[5] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[6] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[7][8] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[9]

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).[10] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[11] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[10]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[12] a conservative grant-making organization.[13]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[14] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[15] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[16] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[17] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.


At least one Cascade Policy Institute critic points out that the particular formulations of "individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity" promoted by the institute are similar or identical to agendas commonly favored among large business interests and wealthy individuals. Also noted is the apparent irony of how notions like "free markets and limited government," as promoted by organizations like Cascade Policy Institute, often translate into support for "billions in pork-ridden expenditure, insurance mandates, heavy-handed central planning initiatives, property seizures..., metastatic bureaucracy at local, state and federal levels and massive expansions in law enforcement."[18]

News and Controversies

Hiring of Eric Fruits

In early February 2019, Cascade Policy Institute announced that Eric Fruits had joined its ranks as Vice President of Research.[19]

Fruits is the president and chief economist at Economics International Corp. and is an adjunct professor of economics at Portland State University.[20] In addition to numerous collaborations with CPI, Fruits has authored papers published by the American Legislative Exchange Council, other SPN Groups -- such as the Rio Grande Foundation and the Washington Policy Center -- and with a Berman & Co. front group the Interstate Policy Alliance. Fruits has received grants from the Bradley Foundation as well as the Institute for Humane Studies.[21]

Opposed Tobacco Taxes in Oregon

According to an article written by Lee Fang for The Nation Institute, when Tracie Sharp worked at CPI they "corresponded with Philip Morris's state lobbyist in Salem on promoting opposition to tobacco taxes."[22] CPI also published an article by a doctor which stated that tobacco taxes could result in "drive-by shootings and mob-style assassinations — turf wars — over the control of black market cigarette sales."

Produced Climate Change-Denying "Documentary"

"Climate Chains"

In 2009 CPI released a film called "Climate Chains."[23] The film features commentators almost exclusively from Koch and SPN-affiliated groups including the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The primary message of the video is to denounce prospective cap-and-trade legislation and promote deregulation. The commentators and narrator insist that climate change is both a conspiracy and an "eco-fad." The narrator states that "Although carbon dioxide is not an actual pollutant, doesn’t cause any negative human health effects, and is an essential element of life, Congress is poised to pass misguided and imprudent legislation that will stifle economic recovery and destroy personal freedoms."


From 2010-2014, the Cascade Policy Institute received $570,000 from Donors Capital Fund and $7,500 from DonorsTrust. In its 2006 annual report, the Cato Institute contributed $25,000 to the Cascade Policy Institute.[24] The Searle Freedom Trust gave $30,000 directly to CPI in 2004.[1]

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $774,530
  • Total Expenses: $588,210
  • Net Assets: $643,560


  • Total Revenue: $555,489
  • Total Expenses: $542,827
  • Net Assets: $457,240


  • Total Revenue: $622,288
  • Total Expenses: $591,571
  • Net Assets: $444,578


  • Total Revenue: $591,483
  • Total Expenses: $610,929
  • Net Assets: $413,861


  • Total Revenue: $687,838
  • Total Expenses: $696,969
  • Net Assets: $433,307


  • Total Revenue: $943,525
  • Total Expenses: $984,233
  • Net Assets: $442,438


  • Total Revenue: $988,404
  • Total Expenses: $976,227
  • Net Assets: $483,146


  • Total Revenue: $912,019
  • Total Expenses: $981,683
  • Net Assets: $470,969


Board of Directors

As of August 2016:[33]


As of August 2016:[34]

  • Steve Buckstein, Senior Policy Analyst
  • Kathryn Hickok, Publications Director and Development Coordinator

Former Staff

  • Tracie Sharp, former Executive Director and Co-Founder (also President and CEO of SPN as of August 2016)
  • Todd Wynn, former Vice President (and former Director of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force)
  • Tina Pisenti, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
  • Sarah Ross, former Communications Coordinator

Contact Information

Cascade Policy Institute
4850 SW Scholls Ferry Road
Suite #103
Portland, Oregon 97225
Phone: (503) 242-0900
Fax: (503) 242-3822

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

Related PRWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rebekah Wilce, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network," Center for Media and Democracy, November 2013.
  2. Cascade Policy Institute, About, organizational website, accessed November 2012.
  3. "Todd Wynn", organizational website, accessed November 2012
  4. "ALEC Task Forces: Energy, Environment and Agriculture", organizational website, accessed November 2012
  5. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  6. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  7. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  8. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  9. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source,, October 27, 2011.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  11. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  12. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  13. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  14. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  15. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  16. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  17. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  18. Zach Dundas, Cyclists vs ‘Libertarians’ in Portland, personal blog, February 4, 2010.
  19. Kathryn Hickok Portland Economist Eric Fruits Joins Cascade Policy Institute as Vice President of Research press release, Feb. 7 2019
  20. Economics International about organizational website, accessed Feb. 13, 2018
  21. Eric Fruits CV Academic CV, accessed Feb 13, 2019
  22. Lee Fang, "The Right Leans In," The Nation Institute, March 28, 2013.
  23. Climate Chains, Cascade Policy Institute, 2009.
  24. Cato Institute, 2006 Annual Report, pages 19-23.
  25. Cascade Policy Institute, 2016 Form 990, organizational tax filing, November 2018
  26. Cascade Policy Institute, [paper copy 2015 Form 990], organizational tax filing, August 1, 2016.
  27. Cascade Policy Institute, 2014 Form 990, organizational tax filing, May 12, 2015.
  28. Cascade Policy Institute, 2013 Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 13, 2014.
  29. Cascade Policy Institute, 2012 Form 990, organizational tax filing, August 1, 2013.
  30. Cascade Policy Institute, 2011 Form 990, organizational tax filing, June 28, 2012.
  31. Cascade Policy Institute, 2010 Form 990, organizational tax filing, July 15, 2011.
  32. Cascade Policy Institute, 2009 Form 990, organizational tax filing, July 15, 2010.
  33. Cascade Policy Institute Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed August 15, 2016.
  34. Cascade Policy Institute Staff, organizational website, accessed August 15, 2016.