Byron S. Lamm
Byron S. Lamm was the founding executive director of the State Policy Network (SPN), from 1992 until January 2000. According to a 1994 article in The Boston Globe, Lamm was a talk-radio show host, and he told the Globe that SPN often broadcast its messages via talk radio. This article about Lamm is a breakout of the State Policy Network article.
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 October 2019, 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. 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.
Please see State Policy Network for more.
Lamm is a managing partner of Pin Oak Group, LLC, an investment firm in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He co-founded and is president of the board of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, an SPN-member think tank founded in 1989. He is on the board of directors of the Roe Foundation. He has previously been chairman of the board of the Center for Education Reform, a group committed to education privatization; and on the board of directors of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC, formerly the Political Economy Research Center), which describes itself as a “free market environmental” group committed to deregulation of industry and to the privatization of public assets; and the Center for Civic Renewal. He has funded the Heartland Institute.
Lamm has personally given $56,455 to Republican and Libertarian politicians and PACS from 1998 to September 2012, including $1,500 to the influential right-wing political group Club for Growth and its PAC.
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Indiana Policy Review Foundation
- State Policy Network:
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Donors Capital Fund
- Koch Family Foundations
- Koch Industries
- Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
- Heritage Foundation
- Think tanks
- Whitney Ball
- Adam Meyerson
- Bridgett Wagner
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- Democracy Now, Donors Trust: Little-Known Group Helps Wealthy Backers Fund Right-Wing Agenda in Secret, February 19, 2013.
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