Arkansas Center for Research in Economics

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The Arkansas Center for Research in Economics (ACRE) is a right-wing research center at the University of Central Arkansas' College of Business. ACRE is an affiliate member of the State Policy Network (SPN) and is listed as a partner organization of the Atlas Network.[1][2]

According to its website, "Our research focuses on barriers to employment, taxes and subsidies, k-12 education, and government transparency. We educate and provide resources for students, teachers, voters, activists, legislators, and business leaders. ACRE promotes solutions that respect the personal and economic freedoms of individuals because protecting and expanding these freedoms has a proven record of improving the lives of people around the world and here at home."[3]

State Policy Network

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.'"[6]

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.[7]


  • David Mitchell, Director
  • Christy Horpedahl, Program Manager
  • Jeremy Horpedahl, ACRE Scholar
  • Terra Aquia, Research Assistant
  • Ashley Wofford, Research Assistant
  • Jacob Bundrick, Policy Analyst
  • Mavuto Kalulu, Policy Analyst
  • Suzanne Massey, Adminisrator
  • Zachary Donohew, ACRE Scholar
  • Thomas Snyder, ACRE Scholar


University of Central Arkansas
211 College of Business
201 Donaghey Avenue
Conway, Arkansas 72035
Phone: 501.852.0665
Twitter: @acre_uca


  1. State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed July 24, 2017.
  2. Atlas Network, Arkansas Center for Research in Economics, organizational website, accessed July 24, 2017.
  3. Arkansas Center for Research in Economics, Home, organizational website, accessed July 24, 2017.
  4. David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million], ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  5. 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.
  6. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  7. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
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