Truth in Accounting
Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.
Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.
Truth in Accounting (TIA) is a right-wing 501(c)3 non profit and a former associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN). Founded in 2002, the deficit alarmist organization compiles and analyzes government financials on the local, state and federal level.
Truth in Accounting publishes an annual "Fiscal State of the States" report analyzing state fiscal numbers and ranking them based off of taxpayer share of debt. TIA launched its State Data Lab in 2012, an interactive website that displays information about state debts, liabilities and assets. The State Data Lab uses the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC's) Rich States, Poor States state economic outlook rankings analysis, relating it to TIA's "Taxpayer Burden" estimate.
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 2022, SPN's membership totals 166. 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 ALEC
TIA's State Data Lab lists ALEC as a partner organization, "State Data Lab forms partnerships with organizations whose missions complement its own: to provide timely, contextual government accounting information to citizens, policymakers, media and others." The State Data Lab includes ALEC's dubious economic outlook rankings and compares them to its "taxpayer burden" measure, finding correlation.
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 ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our ExposedbyCMD.org site.
- Total Revenue: $688,846
- Total Expenses: $539,615
- Net Assets: ($33,873)
- Total Revenue: $573,425
- Total Expenses: $408,651
- Net Assets: ($183,104)
- Total Revenue: $380,187
- Total Expenses: $365,073
- Net Assets: ($335,690)
- Total Revenue: $214,349
- Total Expenses: $261,045
- Net Assets: ($350,804)
Board of Directors
As of March 13, 2017:
- Chairman William (Bill) A. Obenshain, Chair, Executive Director, The Center for Financial Services
- Don Cooke, Senior VP Philanthrophy, McCormick Foundation
- Rick Jasculca, Chairman and CEO, Jasculca Terman & Associates
- Peter J. Karahalios, Chief Operating Officer, HealthNautica
- John P. Kayser, President of Kayser Family Foundation
- Kate Kennedy, Partner at HPM Partners
- Vince Kolber, RESIDCO, Founder and Principal
- Phil Lumpkin, former Corporate VP for Provider Affairs, Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Dawn H. Miller, Director, Concern Chicago – Midwest Region
- Dan Proft, co-founder, Illinois Opportunity Project and radio talk show host, AM 560 The Answer
- Cheryl Red, Wealth Management Investment Specialist, TIAA-CREF Trust Company
- Kevin Rochford, Managing Director & Senior Resident Officer, Bessemer Trust Company
- Jeff Rubenstein, Attorney, Much Shelist
- Terry Savage, Financial Expert
- Susan Templeton, Managing Director, Taiber Kosmala, LLC
- Kevin Edward White, Principal, Kevin Edward White & Associates
- Thomas C. Wright, Retired Vice Chair of BMO Capital Markets
- Sheila A. Weinberg, Founder and CEO
- Joan Colmar, President
- Bill Bergman, Director of Research
- Shawn Cruce, Data Research Manager
- Katherine Oxenreiter, Operations and Communications Manager
- Grace Zhang, Research Analyst
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 35-2185292
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, March 13, 2017.
- Truth in Accounting, State Data Lab, State Data Lab, accessed March 13, 2017.
- Truth in Accounting, Lower Fiscal Stress = Brighter Economic Outlook? State Data Lab, accessed March 13, 2017.
- 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.
- Truth in Accounting, Partners, State Data Lab, accessed March 13, 2017.
- Truth in Accounting, American Legislative Exchange Council, State Data Lab, accessed March 13, 2017.
- Truth in Accounting, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 15, 2016.
- Truth in Accounting, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 11, 2015.
- Truth in Accounting, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 13, 2014.
- Truth in Accounting, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed March 13, 2017.