Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI)


The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI) was a Washington-DC-based think tank advocating for lower taxes and less government regulation. The group’s website,, is no longer in operation and the group appears to be defunct. AdTI was founded in 1988 in Redwood City, CA with an initial board made up of Robert Severns, Eugene Ravizza and Bruce Thompson.  AdTI proclaims that they “follow the principles of Tocqueville himself…among these liberal ideas are civil liberty, political equality, and economic freedom and opportunity.”  [1]

November, 2001 study in the American Journal of Public Health highlights the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution as a prominent think tank that furthered the goals of the tobacco industry. [2]

The study notes the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution’s 1994 report titled “Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination,” which criticizes the US Environmental Protection Agency’s risk assessment methods in environmental tobacco smoke, radon, pesticides, and hazardous cleanup, uses “arguments similar to the tobacco industry’s ‘junk science’ arguments described by Ong and Glantz.”

“This report has been widely used by the tobacco industry in its quest to dismiss the hazards of environmental tobacco smoke,” Derek Yach writes in the study. [2]

AdTI was also behind a 1993/94 campaign on behalf of the tobacco industry opposing Clinton’s health plan. During the initial planning phase of the campaign, a tobacco industry executive described the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution as “perfect for this kind of thing.” AdTI responded with a proposal requesting “$60,000, or $30,000 a month, to implement this program.”

Tax-Exempt Status

According to GuideStar’s latest report, the Alexis de Toqueville Institution’s “exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.” Screenshot below. [18]

Stance on Climate Change

The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition (CHC), a group with the stated mission to ”dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis.” [3], [4]


According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s Sourcewatch, “Alexis de Tocqueville Institution is remarkably secretive for an organization slurping up tax-exempt dollars from the benefits of an IRS 501(c)(3) charity.” Still, a number of funding sources have been confirmed. [5]

The following is a summary of funding data the Conservative Transparency project compiled from publicly available tax forms.  View the attached spreadsheet for additional information on the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution’s funding by year (.xlsx). Note that not all individual values have been verified by DeSmog: [6]

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$1,343,900
William H. Donner Foundation$1,277,687
Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust$746,000
John M. Olin Foundation$362,500
Jaquelin Hume Foundation$110,000
Armstrong Foundation$65,000
Hickory Foundation$61,000
Philip M. McKenna Foundation$40,000
F.M. Kirby Foundation$35,000
CIGNA Foundation$15,000
The Carthage Foundation$15,000
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation$12,500
The Roe Foundation$3,000
Grand Total$4,086,587

Tobacco Industry Funding

Sourcewatch reports documents released as a result of a court judgment against big tobacco revealed Alexis de Tocqueville Institution performed paid services for Tobacco Institute in preparing a document extensively used in legislative lobbying by the tobacco industry. [5]

Philip Morris also retained AdTI’s services in a 1993 campaign against the Clinton health plan where in return for a total of “$60,000, or $30,000 a month” for the two-month campaign, AdTI pledged that the company would have the “full energies” of Cesar Conda, Bruce Bartlett, Merrick Carey and its consultants.

“We plan to activate our key Advisory Board members, including Jack Kemp, Robert Kasten, Dick Armey, Michael Boskin and others to mount a public awareness campaign immediately,” Carey wrote. [7]

A summary of known Tobacco funding below: [8], [9], [10], [11]

 199519961997 Grand Total
Philip Morris$75,000$75,000$50,000$200,000
Tobacco Institute$20,000$20,000$20,000$60,000
Grand Total$95,000$95,000$70,000$260,000

Other Funding

According to archived data at the Capital Research Center, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution also received funding from the Fannie Mae Foundation and AT&T Foundation: [12]

AT&T Foundation$90,000
Fannie Mae Foundation$52,500
Grand Total$192,500

990 Forms

Key People

While the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution’s website is no longer online or available in the Internet Archive, SourceWatch reports some past “Staff and Associates” listed by AdTi: [1]

Other People [1]


October 30, 1997

John Shanahan, vice president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, attended a rally to oppose the president’s Climate Change Proposals set to coincide with United Nations sessions in Bonn, Germany to negotiate a global climate change treaty. [13]

According to the press release, the rally was held by the National Consumer Coalition and moderated by Marlo Lewis,  vice president of policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and group leader of the “Cooler Heads” Coalition.  [13]

Event speakers included the following:

July 21, 1995

The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution produced a policy study on Environmental Regulation (PDF) authored by S. Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP).  The study also appears to have been distributed by The Heartland Institute. [14]

The study describes the Clean Air Act as an example of “misguided regulations based on pseudo-science.” Other examples given of regulations based on “pseudo-science” include emissions reductions from Coal-burning power plants to combat the issue of acid rain and the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). [14]

1994 – Alexis de Tocqueville and Tobacco

In 1993, Philip Morris hired the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution to campaign against the Clinton health plan. Philip Morris executive Craig Fuller suggested the campaign (PDF): [15]

“Having just read the Washington Post with a series of provocative articles about Canada cutting taxes, CBO estimating higher costs AND job loss from the Clinton plan and then our old favourite, former president current homebuilder, Jimmy Carter explaining why higher taxes will help tobacco farmers, it occurred to me that we ought to turn a few of our better letter writers loose to blitz the targeted states with letters to the editor about Clinton, Carter and Canada.”

 A response from Hector Irastorza, with David Nicoli ccd, suggests AdTI should help with the campaign (PDF): [16]

“David N & I think the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute is perfect for this kind of thing. We are working with them on a proposal.”

The responding proposal (PDF) from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution reads as follows:

“We would like to undertake a concentrated press and public policy information campaign strategy over the next two months to heighten public awareness of the new Health Tax Increase, which will include 1) background papers, opinion articles and letters in major newspapers and magazines that highlight the health tax increases,

2 ) outreach to key columnists, TV and radio commentators on the magnitude of the tax increase,

3) briefings to ensure that public officials, policymakers and the press are aware of the tax increases,

and 4) original research studies which document the negative economic impact of health care taxes

Our three key executives, Cesar Conda, Bruce Bartlett and myself, will run this campaign and we will devote the full energies of our operation and its consultants to this task. We plan to activate our key Advisory Board members, including Jack Kemp, Robert Kasten, Dick Armey, Michael Boskin  and others to mount a public awareness campaign immediately (see enclosed list of Center on Regulation and Economic Growth participants).

As you can see from our press in recent months, we are in the position to deliver. We  would like to request $60,000,o r $30,000 a month, to implement this program.” [7]

Philip Morris Documents

Over the next two months, ADTI ran a PR campaign opposing the Clinton health plan, reports Deltoid. Full documentation of their activities are available in the Philip Morris Archived and summarized below. [17]

Document IDDateDescription
207301170504-FebNote from Derek Crawford to David Nicoli about meetings with anti-tax groups on Feb 7
207301170609-FebCover note from David Nicoli to Buffy for ADTI proposed campaign against Clinton Plan
2073011707/170808-FebLetter from Merrick Carey, president of ADTI to David Nicoli, Legislative Counsel of PM proposing to undertake a campaign against the Clinton health plan. Attachment to previous document.
2073011709/171008-FebAttached list of ADTI advisory board members
2073011703E/170409-FebEmail from Craig Fuller suggesting that PM start a letter writing campaign
2073011703C09-FebReply from Derek Crawford
2073011703A09-FebReply from Kathleen Linehan to David Nicoli
207301170309-FebEmail from David Nicoli listing some more possible groups that could be paid to write letters advancing Philip Morris’ agenda.
2073011671/167322-FebLetter from Carey to Nicoli listing places where attached memorandum from Bruce Bartlett has been sent.
2073011674/167522-FebAttached memorandum from Bartlett
207301168024-FebFax cover sheet from Carey to Nicoli for following Empower America tip sheet.
207301168124-FebEmpower America tip sheet based on Bartlett’s memo
207301167724-FebLetter from Carey to Nicoli
207301167623-FebNews story inWashington Times attacking Clinton plan
207301168228-FebLetter from Carey to Nicoli detailing ADTI’s latest efforts
207301168328-FebAttached RNC newsletter
207301168402-MarProgress report from Carey to Nicoli
207301168508-MarCover letter from Nicoli to Buffy for following four documents
207301168607-MarReport from Carey to Nicoli
2073011687/168903-MarIssue Memorandum by Bruce Bartlett
207301169007-MarWashington Times op-ed by Bruce Bartlett
207301169103-MarLetter from Carey to Robert Caldwell, Editorial Page Editor, The San Diego Union Tribune
207301169208-MarFax cover from Cesar Conda to Nicoli for following document
207301169308-Mar“Dear Colleague” letter from Wayne Allard
207301169715-MarBureau of National Affairs report on Allard’s letter
207301169816-MarLetter from Carey to Nicoli

Past AdTI Programs

Sourcewatch reports the following as having been programs/initiatives of the AdTI:  [1]


  1. Alexis de Tocqueville Institution,” SourceWatch profile. Accessed March 1, 2016.
  2. Derek Yach. “Junking Science to Promote Tobacco,” American Journal of Public Health, 1745-1748 (November 2001, Vol 91, No. 11). Archived November 1, 2002. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  3. About,” Cooler Heads Coalition ( Archived March 1, 2016. WebCite URL
  4. Global Warming Web Site Offers News and Information,” P.R. Newswire, April 5, 2004. Published by the Boston Globe. Archived April 8, 2004. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  5. AdTI-Funding,” SourceWatch. Accessed February 29, 2016.
  6. Alexis de Tocqueville Institution,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed February 29, 2016.
  7. “Dear Mr. Nicoli” (PDF), From Merrick Cary to Mr. David P. Nicoli. Retrieved from PhilipMorris USA Public Document Site. Document id 2073011666_1667. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  8. “950000 Public Policy Grants” (PDFRetrieved from Philip Morris Public Document Site. Doc ID 2041273353/3356. Archived at DeSmogBlog. 
  9. PUBLIC POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 970000 WITH PAID STATUS” (PDF) Retrieved from Philip Morris Public Document Site. Doc ID 2063351196/1220. Archived at DeSMogBlog.
  10. 960000 PROPOSED BUDGET” (PDF) Retrieved from Philip Morris Public Document Site. Doc ID 2041212088/2216. Archived at DeSmogBlog.
  11. THE TOBACCO INSTITUTE 970000 PROPOSED BUDGET,” December 11, 1996 (Bates 83615497). Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  12. Alexis de Tocqueville Institution,” Capital Research Center. Archived August 29, 2005. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  13. (Press Release). “Rally to Oppose President’s Climate Change Proposals: Consumers, Seniors, Students to Join Members of Congress in Opposing Energy Restrictions. Just Say No to Climate Care,” National Consumer Coalition, October 28, 1997. Archived September 3, 2000. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  14. “Whither Environmental Regulation?” (PDFPolicyFax, July 31, 1995. Retrieved from Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  15. “Letter Writing” (PDF), Fuller, C. to Irastorza, H; Merlo, E, February 9, 1994. Retrieved from PhilipMorris USA Public Document Site. Document id 2073011703E. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  16. RE: Letter Writing” (PDF), From Derek Crawford to Hector Irastorza, David Nicoli, February 9. 1994. Retrieved from PhilipMorris USA Public Document Site. Document id 2073011703C. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  17. The ADTI-Philip Morris file,” Deltoid, May 28, 2004. Archived June 6, 2004.  
  18. Alexis De Tocqueville Institution,” Accessed June 7, 2016.
  19. Stephen Moore. “Immigration and the Rise and Decline  of American Cities,” Hoover Institution. Archived June 30, 2011. URL

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