Caesar Rodney Institute

Caesar Rodney Institute


The Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI) is a 501(c)(3) public policy think tank based in Delaware.1About CRI,” Caesar Rodney Institute. Archived March 7, 2023. Archive URL:

“We believe that markets work and that government’s role should be limited to activities that cannot be better served through private means,” CRI notes in its guiding principles.2About CRI,” Caesar Rodney Institute. Archived March 7, 2023. Archive URL:

The Caesar Rodney Institute describes itself as “closely aligned with the State Policy Network which has a membership of over 50 state-focused, free-market think tanks in all 50 states.”3About CRI,” Caesar Rodney Institute. Archived March 7, 2023. Archive URL: As of 2023, the State Policy Network (SPN) listed CRI as an affiliate. 4THE NETWORK: Delaware,” State Policy Network. Archived March 8, 2023. Archive URL:

Ties to Climate Change Deniers

David Legates, a professor of geography at the University of Delaware has been on the CRI’s board of advisors.5Advisory Council,” Caesar Rodney Institute. Archived October 31, 2018. Archive URL: As previously reported by DeSmog, Legates is a long-time denier of the human contribution to climate change,6Ben Jervey. “David Legates Asked To Step Down As Delaware State Climatologist,” DeSmog, July 14, 2011. and has testified that “The current emphasis on climate change abatement will do far more harm than good.”7Healthy Oceans and Healthy Economies Subcommittee Hearing,” YouTube video uploaded by user “House Natural Resources Committee Democrats,” February 7, 2019. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

In 2015, the Caesar Rodney Institute came to the defense of astrophysicist Willie Soon8In Defense of Willie Soon,” Caesar Rodney Institute Blog, February 23, 2015. Archived March 9, 2023. Archive URL: after The New York Times reported that Soon had not revealed funding from the oil and gas industry. Soon had “accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers,” Times journalists Justin Gillis and John Schwartz reported.9Justin Gillis and John Schwartz. “Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher,” The New York Times, February 21, 2015. Archive URL:

Stance on Climate Change

February 23, 2015

On its blog, the Caesar Rodney Institute wrote that “Policy Director Dave Stevenson prefers to focus on energy-related issues and keep away from the overall climate-change debate because it isn’t our main focus, with the exception of stopping the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and carbon taxes. We are not suggesting alternative energies are bad or that we as humans don’t cause environmental problems we need to resolve. However, given the nature of the attacks and the source it comes from, we feel this should be addressed from our end. If you believe people like Dr. [Willie] Soon are wrong, then prove it with your own data and not just broad assumptions about who your opponents are.”10In Defense of Willie Soon,” Caesar Rodney Institute Blog, February 23, 2015. Archived March 9, 2023. Archive URL:

March 18, 2014

CRI co-sponsored a dinner on sea level rise that featured Willie Soon. David Legates, then a member of the CRI advisory council, concluded his presentation by saying that “hopefully, you can help us spread the word, get the idea out, so that we make better choices about environmental stewardship than trying to worry about climate change and sea level rise over the next hundred some years.”


The following data is taken from publicly available IRS Form 990 filings reviewed by DeSmog. Some key donors to CRI include the Donors Capital Fund, the State Policy Network, DonorsTrust, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), and the American Energy Alliance (AEA), among others.

Click on a donor to zoom in on donations by year, or select a donor from the dropdown:

Note that this is not a complete snapshot of CRI’s funding. It includes only amounts from funders required to file donation information with the IRS. DeSmog will add additional funding data as it becomes available.

IRS Form 990 Filings

Key People

The following information was collected from publicly available IRS Form 990 filings, as well as snapshots of the Caesar Rodney Institute website via the Internet Archive.

View the attached spreadsheet for sources and additional information on the Caesar Rodney Institute’s key people, year over year (.xlsx).

Other Key People

Willie Soon

CRI stated in 2015 that it had “employed” Willie Soon:

“Dr. Soon was employed with the Caesar Rodney Institute from November 2012-April 2013. He wrote two articles on climate science and made one appearance with CRI Advisor Dr. David Legates. Their presentation can be viewed here and here. Their PowerPoint is available here.” All of these links are taken as found in the original CRI website post; some no longer work.11In Defense of Willie Soon,” Caesar Rodney Institute Blog, February 23, 2015. Archived March 9, 2023. Archive URL:


February 2023

The New York Times reported that several local groups opposed to off-shore wind power development in the New York metropolitan area had “found common cause with national organizations that have accepted funding from the fossil fuel industry, including the Caesar Rodney Institute, a right-leaning nonprofit that David T. Stevenson helps to lead.” 12Tracey Tully and Winston Choi-Schagrin. “Why 23 Dead Whales Have Washed Up on the East Coast Since December,” The New York Times, February 28, 2023. Archive URL:

David T. Stevenson told The Times “that he believed greenhouse gases may be causing Earth to warm at a slow rate, but that there is no climate crisis, contradicting settled science. He believes offshore wind energy will be too expensive, and he recently founded the American Coalition for Ocean Protection, which now has chapters in coastal communities in New Jersey and New York.

The groups cited supposed dangers to whales as a reason to halt offshore wind projects. “’If an emotional response is what it takes,’” he said about concern for the whales, “I’m not going to turn them down.'”

November 4, 2019

Data Delaware, “an outreach service provided by the Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI),” sent out an email13DATA DELAWARE: Monday, November 4, 2019,” Retrieved from Archived March 9, 2023. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. promoting a podcast14Money and Politics Segment 4 (11-1),” Money and Politics via Spreaker. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. in which John Stapleford, identified as the board chair of the institute, and podcast host Dace Blaskovitz claimed that the “political left” does “virtually nothing” to “reduce to writing in their legally binding disclosure statements when it comes to environmental concerns,” referring to disclosures included in municipal bonds issued by municipalities.

Blaskovitz stated that “we asked the CRI Chair, Dr. John Stapleford to ferret through the state of Delaware documents what has tree hugging, climate change, flag waving and [Delaware] Governor John Carney told investors and the legal community about the first state and the alleged and pending evils of climate disaster,” according to the electronically-generated transcript.15“DATA DELAWARE: Wednesday, October 23, 2019 SUBJECT: Healthcare revelations – from a Delaware icon (Part II Podcast transcript)” (PDF), retrieved from Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

Stapleford claimed that the city of Oakland was an example:

“For example, in Oakland, the politicians were saying, ‘We’re going to have 66 inches of sea level rise by 2100. This will imminently threaten Oakland sewer system and harm property with a total
replacement costs between $22 and $38 billion dollars.’ However, when it comes to going out to get money in the capital markets, fight floating bonds, suddenly the Oakland City officials say we’re unable to predict seismic events such as sea rise. On one hand the sky is falling, and on the other hand it’s when
you go out to the capital markets, things could happen, but it’s not life threatening right now.”

“Yeah. So much for that climate change,” Blaskovitz replied.

March 3, 2015

CRI reported on its blog that it had joined a Freedom of Information Act request “for disclosure of sources of grants given to University of Delaware Professor John Byrne for his work on climate change.”16Protecting Academic Freedom,” Caesar Rodney Institute Blog, March 3, 2015. Archived March 9, 2023. Archive URL:

The request was made in response to “a request for similar information regarding [University of Delaware professor] David Legates,” CRI stated. “We replicated US Representative Raul Grijalva’s language nearly verbatim, hoping to place his move in perspective.”

David Legates was listed on CRI’s website as a member of its advisory council from 2013 to 2018.

“For several years we have seen an ongoing campaign aimed at removing inconvenient scientists from the climate change debate,” the CRI post stated, pointing to Roger Pielke, Jr. as another supposed example.

“Pielke’s work, similar to Dr. Legates, shows that damages from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and droughts have not increased in frequency or intensity since the middle of the twentieth century despite warmer temperatures,” CRI claimed.

“We support transparency at publicly funded institutions, and researchers should disclose funding sources when they publish a paper as is the policy at most universities. However, we have seen numerous requests for ‘skeptic’ scientists’ emails (such as Dr. Legates’ at Delaware) draw no university opposition or public challenge, only to hear shrieks of outrage when the roles are reversed.”

February 23, 2015

In a blog post titled “In Defense of Willie Soon,” CRI described recent reporting by The New York Times on Soon as a “hit job.” The Times had revealed that Soon had accepted more than $1.2 million in funding from fossil fuel industry sources, but had not disclosed that funding in most of his scientific research papers.17In Defense of Willie Soon,” Caesar Rodney Institute Blog, February 23, 2015. Archived March 9, 2023. Archive URL:

“Stop for a moment. They argue that because ‘corporations’ fund Dr. Soon’s research, he must be doing this only to please his fossil-fuel company corporate masters who ‘deny’ the climate ‘science’ because of their capitalist greed,” CRI claimed.18In Defense of Willie Soon,” Caesar Rodney Institute Blog, February 23, 2015. Archived March 9, 2023. Archive URL:

“Yet the same people doing the attacking happily accept money from groups or people like The Ford Foundation, Climate Action Fund, Tom Steyer, 11th Hour Project (founded by Wendy Schmidt, wife of Google CEO Eric Schmidt), the United Nations, government agencies invested in proving man-made climate change in order to increase taxes and regulations, other businesses involved in the green energy movement, etc., yet somehow their contributions or motives for proving man-made climate change theories as fact are not questioned in this article,” CRI added.

CRI has also said that it “employed” Soon from 2012 to 2013.

November 12, 2014

CRI was among the groups listed as signatories to an open letter opposing a revision of the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act.

“The proposal as written represents an unjustified expansion of Clean Water Act jurisdiction far beyond the limits of federal regulation,” the letter claimed. “In light of the overwhelming evidence that the proposed rule would have a devastating impact on businesses, States, and local governments without any real benefit to water quality, the Agencies should immediately withdraw the waters of the U.S. proposal and begin again.”

March 18, 2013

The Caesar Rodney Institute co-sponsored a dinner with the Positive Growth Alliance titled “The Truth About Climate Change.” David Legates, then listed as a member of CRI’s advisory council, spoke at the event:

“So what’s literally happening is the land is sinking. If we’re going to address carbon dioxide we’re not going to stop the land from sinking, and it’s not going to have any impact there,” Legates claimed in the presentation.

“Little evidence has been found in individual case records for ongoing positive acceleration of the sort suggested in the 20th century by climate models,” Legates added. “There’s no empirical basis to support anything greater than a half meter in sea level by 2100.”

Willie Soon also made a presentation on sea level rise at the event:

Contact & Address

The following contact information was available on the Caesar Rodney Institute website as of March 2023:

News and Media Inquiries:
Vil Vongphrachanh
[email protected]

Mailing Address:
Caesar Rodney Institute
420 Corporate Blvd
Newark, DE 19702

Phone: (302) 273-0080
[email protected]

Social Media

Other Resources


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