A network of think tanks across the country is quietly pushing the agenda of right-wing groups with funding from Koch brothers-affiliated organizations, a new report alleges.
The study, by the liberal Center for Media and Democracy, is aimed at the State Policy Network, which describes itself as “dedicated solely to improving the practical effectiveness of independent, nonprofit, market-oriented, state-focused think tanks,” which are operating in all 50 states. The tax-exempt group seeks to “enable these organizations to better educate local citizens, policy makers and opinion leaders about market-oriented alternatives to state and local policy challenges.”
But that’s not the full story, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, which bills itself as a nonprofit watchdog group. CMD alleges that rather than a loose coalition of locally focused think tanks, SPN’s organizations are using “dark money” — a term for money donated for elections without disclosing its source — from conservative and corporate donors like the Koch brothers to push a cookie-cutter conservative agenda at the state level.
“These aren’t just little think tanks that are doing nonpartisan research based on what’s happening in the state and really reflective of the culture of those states,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the CMD, which has received funds from an organization linked to liberal billionaire donor George Soros. “These are a lot of groups that put together pretty cooked books on the issues they are peddling and have been criticized in state after state for how shoddy their research has been.”