Ayn Rand Institute
The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) describes itself as "a non-profit organization headquartered in Irvine, California, works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand's novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience."
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.
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 January 2021, SPN's membership totals 163. 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. 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.
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.'"
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.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
Grants received from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation:
- $4,800 in 2015
- $42,600 in 2014
Grants received from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation:
- $25,000 in 2012
- $50,000 in 2011
- $25,000 in 2010
- $25,000 in 2009
ARI has also received funding from Donors Capital Fund. Donors Capital Fund, as well as DonorsTrust have been described as "two funds that have been closely tied to the Kochs but which obscure the percentage of their grants coming from Koch money." (See here for a complete list of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund grant recipients.)
- $50,000 in 2013
- $325,000 in 2012
- $25,000 in 2011
- $25,000 in 2010
Saying "U.S. Should Not Help Tsunami Victims"
On December 30, 2004, the Ayn Rand Institute sent out a press release saying that the "U.S. Should Not Help Tsunami Victims". This was just days after the devastating South Asian tsunami. Boston.com (The Boston Globe) wrote "That's certainly one way to keep alive the spirit of the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, for whom altruism was a dirty word and the productive, heroic pursuit of one's own happiness the highest ideal. After widespread ridicule, the Institute removed the statement from its website, offering the clarification that it was opposed to all government-sponsored charitable giving (since the money isn't the government's to give), and that singling out this instance, just now, was inappropriate."
Free copies of Ayn Rand novels
Since 2002, the Ayn Rand Institute has given out more than 1.4 million free copies of Ayn Rand novels to teachers in North America. The novels Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged have been sent to 30,000 teachers in 40,000 classrooms. The Institute figures that given the expected three-year lifespan of a book, more than three million people will be introduced to her books and ideas.
- Total Revenue: $10,895,393
- Total Expenses: $10,615,858
- Net Assets: $2,033,748
- Total Revenue: $10,310,603
- Total Expenses: $10,711,413
- Net Assets: $1,886,840
- Total Revenue: $10,429,821
- Total Expenses: $10,588,553
- Net Assets: $2,394,288
The Ayn Rand Institute is not required to disclose its funders but major foundation supporters can be found through their IRS filings. Here are some known contributors:
- Snider Foundation: $200,000 (2017-2018)
Board of Directors as of December, 2016:
- Arline Mann, Board Chair
- Yaron Brook, Executive Co-Chair and President
- Carl Barney
- Harry Binswanger
- Tim Blum
- Arturo Gamboa
- Peter Leport
- Larry Salzman
- Tara Smith
Former Board of Directors:
- Michael S. Berliner, Board Co-Chair
- Arline Mann, Board Co-Chair
- Yaron Brook, President and Executive Director
- Carl Barney, Chairman and CEO of Independence University
- Harry Binswanger
- Peter LePort
- John B. Ridpath
- Tara Smith
- Kara Devar
- Yaron Brook, Executive Co-chair and President
- Onkar Ghate, Chief Content Officer
- Mark Chapman, Vice-President of Development
- Chris Locke, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
- Keith Lockitch, Vice President of Educational Programs
- Rachel Knapp, Director of Business Operations
- Elan Journo, Fellow and Director of Policy Research
- Steve Simpson, Director of Legal Studies
- Don Watkins, Fellow
- Aaron Smith, Instructor
- Amanda Maxham, Writer and Research Associate
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 22-2570926
2121 Alton Parkway, Suite 250
Irvine, California, 92606-4926
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Ayn Rand
- Climate Change
- Climate change sceptics
- Climate change skeptics/common claims and rebuttal
- International Conference on Climate Change (2008)
- International Conference on Climate Change (2009)
- Researching global warming skeptics
- Richard E. Ralston - publishing manager
- Snider Foundation
- think tanks
- Heartland Institute, "International Conference on Climate Change: Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crisis?", March 8-10, 2009, page 30.
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed December 22, 2016.
- David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
- 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.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- Progress Florida and Center for Media and Democracy, The James Madison Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability: Lawmaking under the Influence of Very Special Interests, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Charles Koch Institute, Partner Organizations, organizational website, accessed December 22, 2016.
- Heartland Institute, "Co-Sponsors", Heartland Institute website, March 5, 2009.
- Christopher Shea, "Ayn Rand's campus radicals", Boston.com, February 13, 2005.
- Free Books to Teachers Campaign, Ayn Rand Institute, accessed November 2010.
- Ayn Rand Institute, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, February 9, 2016.
- Ayn Rand Institute, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, February 15, 2015.
- Ayn Rand Institute, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, February 13, 2014.
- Ayn Rand Institute, Board and Staff, organizational website, accessed December 22, 2016.
- Ayn Rand Institute, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed November 2010.
- Noah Kristula-Green, "Tea Party Embraces Ayn Rand", FrumForum, July 31, 2010.