Defenders of Property Rights

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Defenders of Property Rights was, according to its website, "founded in 1991 to counterbalance the governmental threat to private property as a result of a broad range of regulations. We believe that society can achieve important social objectives such as protection of our environment and preservation of our national heritage without destroying private property rights or undermining free market principles." [1]

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.
Koch Wiki

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.


In August 1995, DPR's Policy Advisory, Ian MacKenzie, wrote to the Senior Vice-President of Corporate Affairs for Philip Morris, Craig Fuller, with a pitch for funding. As far as MacKenzie was concerned, the issue of combating regulations regulating smoking needed to be re-defined as intruding on a constitutional right - "the right to own and use property".

While praising the company's voluntary program on youth smoking - "Action against access" - MacKenzie warned it was insufficient "to placate the anti-smoking movement" and the general public may consider that not enough was being done by the industry to educate the young. "If so, this could result in a demand for more active measures, confronting the company with having to work openly against its own market interests, and forcing it to unilaterally give ground on a constitutional right - the right to own and use property," he warned.

DPR, of course, had a solution - funding a program that included promoting "the principles of freedom, tolerance and Accommodation". "It is not as widely understood as it should be," Mackenzie wrote, "that property which lies at our constitutional liberties, is more than land or buildings. It is also intangibles: art, ideas, services - in sum the fruits of our labors".

MacKenzie proposed a three pronged strategy including taking "the moral high ground by making property rights the issue", extending the company's youth smoking campaign to advise against smoking "but extol the principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility and decision making", and seeking to involve both retailers and the advertising industry.

While MacKenzie didn't offer a price tag for the groups services, but made clear it was keen to assist. "We have the specifics on how to bring all theses elements together and build a national communications campaign … As a 501 (c) (3) legal defense foundation and national property rights leader, our objective is to protect property rights from the regulatory state and, in part, do this by raising awareness of how property rights are being adversely affected by government regulation of the marketplace," he wrote.

A fortnight later, MacKenzie was following the pitch up with Francis Gomez, the Director of Public Programs for Corporate Affairs with Philip Morris.

Defenders of Property Rights did receive money from the tobacco industry:

  • Philip Morris
    • 1994: $7,500 [2] [3]
    • 1995: $30,000 [4]
    • 1996: ??
    • 1997: $45,000 [5] [6]
    • 1998: $20,000 [7]
    • 1999: $20,000 (budgeted) [8]

Some other documents describing 'Defenders' pro-tobacco activities: [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

Board of Directors

Board of Advisers


Defenders of Property Rights
1350 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 410
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone 202.822.6770
Fax 202.822.6774

External Links

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