State Policy Network

State Policy Network (SPN)


The State Policy Network (SPN) is a group of free market think tanks in the U.S. According to its website, there is at least one member in every state “fighting to limit government and advance market-friendly public policy at the state and local levels.”1About SPN,” State Policy Network. Archived September 16, 2015. Archive URL: SPN is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and is supported largely by conservative foundations.2Andy Kroll. “The Right-Wing Network Behind the War on Unions,” Mother Jones, April 25, 2011. Archived September 16, 2015.

The State Policy Network was launched under that name in 1992. SPN‘s vision is that “state-based think tanks will educate the general public and policy makers in every state to embrace market-friendly policies that maximize liberty and opportunity.”3John J. Miller. “Fifty Flowers Bloom,” Hey Miller, September 16, 2009. Archived September 16, 2015. Archive URL:

As the Center for Media and Democracy noted, SPN was originally called the Madison Group and it was created in 1985 as a sibling group to support the state legislative agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council, and both were co-located within the Heritage Foundation, which was started by Paul Weyrich with funds from the Coors fortune. The Madison Group was launched by multimillionaire Thomas A. Roe, at the urging of Ronald Reagan to create mini Heritage Foundations in the states.

Stance on Climate Change

SPN supports the work of many of the most vocal think tanks that are promoting climate change skepticism including the Heartland Institute, Cato Institute, and Heritage Foundation.

In a “policy exchange” promoting the views of Marlo Lewis Jr. of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, SPN claims that “the EPA‘s ever-increasing mandates, from the revised air standards for ozone to the new greenhouse gas emissions standards, will severely impact state economic growth.4SPN Environmental Policy Exchange: Volume 4, Issue 2 (March 16, 2011). Archived September 16, 2015. Archive URL:

On the subject of climate change, SPN has promoted the view that “[…] the planet is believed to be experiencing a global cooling-not a warming.5SPN Environmental Policy Exchange: Volume 3, Issue 2 (June 1, 2010). Archived September 16, 2015. Archive URL:


The following data is based on archived data at the Conservative Transparency project combined with original research of public 990 tax forms. Note that not all funding data has been verified by DeSmog.

See the attached spreadsheet for a complete list of State Policy Network funding by year (.xlsx).6State Policy Network,” Conservative Transparency Project search combined with public 990 data. Data retrieved May 29, 2017.

As Recipient

Donors Capital Fund$27,154,284
Searle Freedom Trust$5,565,725
The Thirteen Foundation$1,526,125
The Roe Foundation$1,482,000
JM Foundation$875,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation$855,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$370,000
Adolph Coors Foundation$290,000
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation$217,448
Sarah Scaife Foundation$200,000
Chase Foundation of Virginia$174,860
Armstrong Foundation$165,000
Barney Family Foundation$165,000
John M. Olin Foundation$155,000
Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation$150,000
Castle Rock Foundation$135,000
Lowndes Foundation$135,000
Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking$126,000
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation$120,000
Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation$117,500
William H. Donner Foundation$108,500
John William Pope Foundation$101,000
The TWS Foundation$100,000
Mercer Family Foundation$100,000
Institute for Humane Studies$94,751
Thomas W Smith Foundation$75,000
Ruth & Lovett Peters Foundation$75,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation$66,351
The Rodney Fund$62,500
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation$49,000
PG Beil Foundation$42,000
Robert P. Rotella Foundation$35,000
Wodecroft Foundation$26,000
John Dawson Foundation$25,000
Atlas Economic Research Foundation$25,000
Reams Foundation$25,000
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation$25,000
Edison Electric Institute$25,000
Bradley Impact Fund$23,500
Charles Koch Institute$19,200
Richard Seth Staley Educational Foundation$15,492
American Legislative Exchange Council$15,000
Americans for Prosperity Foundation$15,000
Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice$10,000
Dodge Jones Foundation$9,000
Eric Javits Family Foundation$6,250
Tepper Family Foundation$6,000
Deramus Foundation$6,000
Kickapoo Springs Foundation$5,500
E L Craig Foundation$5,000
Aequus Institute$4,500
National Christian Charitable Foundation$4,200
John P and Kathryn G Evans Foundation$3,450
The Robertson-Finley Foundation$2,500
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation$1,000
Americans for Tax Reform Foundation$500
Grand Total$56,810,317

As Donor

Illinois Policy Institute$644,800
Operation Geek Farm$496,900
James Madison Institute$490,822
Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives$436,600
Opportunity Ohio$394,775
Independence Institute$394,463
Mackinac Center for Public Policy$387,339
Texas Public Policy Foundation$378,900
South Carolina Policy Council$353,139
Evergreen Freedom Foundation$343,164
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs$340,300
Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions$330,962
Cascade Policy Institute$328,822
Idaho Freedom Foundation$328,350
Oregon Capital Watch Fund$290,000
Show-Me Institute$254,001
Pelican Institute$253,000
North Dakota Policy institute$241,197
Sutherland Institute$232,424
Foundation for Government Accountability$223,150
Maryland Public Policy Institute$217,500
Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity$209,000
Maine Heritage Policy Center$206,000
Competitive Governance Institute (Formerly Sam Adams Alliance)$181,386
Ocean State Policy Research$172,166
Everglades Legal Foundation$170,000
Goldwater Institute for Public Policy$169,349
Montana Policy Institute$148,500
Rio Grande Foundation$137,250
Open Government Institute of California$135,000
Washington Policy Center$134,832
Empire Center for Public Policy$123,800
Maclver Institute$121,600
Spark Freedom$118,500
Beacon Hill Institute$117,000
Alabama Policy Institute$116,000
Advance Arkansas Institute$111,000
California Policy Center$109,100
Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity$100,000
Beacon Center of Tennessee$95,350
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute$93,555
Wyoming Liberty Group$90,000
Georgia Center for Opportunity$90,000
Thomas Jefferson Institute$87,200
Platte Institute for Economic Research$87,000
Yankee Institute$82,500
Texas Watchdog$82,000
DC Progress$81,791
John W Pope Civitas Institute$80,000
Freedom Foundation of Minnesota$79,500
Palmetto Policy Forum$79,000
John Locke Foundation$75,814
Georgia Public Policy Foundation$72,475
Kansas Policy Institute$72,100
Caesar Rodney Institute$66,000
Virginia Institute for Public Policy$58,941
Tennessee Center for Policy Research$52,589
Center for the American Experiment$50,700
Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy$50,069
Liberty on the Rocks$50,000
Common Sense Institute of New Jersey$50,000
Pacific Research institute$50,000
Nevada Policy Research Institute$43,000
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty Inc.$42,375
Pioneer Institute$40,718
True The Vote$40,000
Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy$37,000
Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia$35,000
Texas Conservative Coalition$30,000
State Budget Solutions$30,000
Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions$30,000
Where’s The Line$30,000
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research$30,000
American Phoenix Foundation$25,000
Ethan Allen Institute$24,930
Liberty Foundation$24,700
Wyoming Policy Institute$22,500
Public Interest Institute$21,250
Center for Constitutional Law$20,000
First Freedom Foundation of South Dakota$20,000
Atlas Economic Research Foundation$17,894
Solutions for New Jersey$12,500
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii$15,000
America’s Future Foundation$12,000
Pelican Institute for Public Policy$10,250
Talent Market$10,000
TNReportcom News Services$7,985
Libertas Institute$7,500
Arkanansas Policy Foundation$6,100
Mississippi Center for Public Policy$6,044
1816 Institute$5,846
Flint Hills Center For Public Policy$2,500
Great Plains Public Policy Institute$2,500
Georgia Family Council$1,182
Louisiana Family Forum$411
Grand Total$12,281,860

Koch Funding

According to data collected by Greenpeace USA, the State Policy Network has received $100,361 in combined donations from Koch-related foundations between 2002 and 2015:7State Policy Network (SPN): Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace.  Archived March 14, 2017. URL:

YearCharles Koch FoundationCharles Koch InstituteClaude R. Lambe Charitable FoundationGrand Total
2002  $6,500$6,500
2004  $2,500$2,500
2005  $15,000$15,000
2006  $15,000$15,000
2011  $10,000$10,000
2012$15,223  $15,223
2014$19,200  $19,200
2015$11,738$5,200 $16,938
Grand Total$46,161$5,200$49,000$100,361

990 Forms

Peabody Energy Funding

June 13, 2016

The State Policy Network was listed as a creditor in Peabody Energy’s 2016 bankruptcy filings, reports the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch). A number of SPN members including the Independence Institute from Colorado, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation have direct financial ties to Peabody.8Nick Surgey. “Peabody Coal Bankruptcy Reveals Climate Denial Network Funding,” PRWatch, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. Archive URL:

While the available bankruptcy documents do not list the scale or dates of funding, they outline Peabody Energy’s financial ties to a large network of groups promoting climate change denial.9In re: Peabody Energy Corporation, et al. Debtors,” United States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division, Case 16-42529, May 27, 2016. Retrieved from DocumentCloud.

Prominent individuals appearing in the documents include climate deniers Willie SoonRichard LindzenRoy Spencer and Richard Berman. The long list of organizations also includes groups such as Americans for ProsperityAmerican Legislative Exchange CouncilCFACTInstitute for Energy ResearchState Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more.10Farron Cousins. “Court Documents Show Coal Giant Peabody Energy Funded Dozens Of Climate Denial Groups,” DeSmog, June 13, 2016.

The Guardian also analysed and reported on the Peabody bankruptcy findings:11Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson. “Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change,” The Guardian, June 13, 2016. Archive URL:

These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”

The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change. […]

Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list. […]

The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.

We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”

Notable organizations listed in the initial documents include:

Notable individuals named in the initial documents include the following:

Key People

Board of Directors

Name201220132014201520162017Description/Company Affiliation
Adam MeyersonYYYYYYPhilanthropy Roundtable
Barbara Wells KenneyYYY   Freedom Foundation
Bridgett G. WagnerYYYYYYThe Heritage Foundation
Carl HelstromYYYYYY(Chairman)  The JM Foundation
Gisèle Huff, PhDY     (Former Treasurer) Jaquelin Hume Foundation
John Hood     YJohn William Pope Foundation
John JacksonYYYYY Adolph Coors Foundation
Karen Buchwald Wright     YAriel Corporation
Lawson Bader     YDonorsTrust
Stanford D. SwimYYYYYY(Secretary) The GFC Foundation
Theodore D. AbramYYYYYYAmerican Institute for Full Employment
Thomas WillcoxYYYYYY(Treasurer) The Roe Foundation
Tracie J. SharpYYYYYY(President) State Policy Network
Whitney L. BallYYYY  DonorsTrust. *Now deceased.


December 2021

Several members and former-members of the State Policy Network filed briefs in West Virginia v. EPA, a U.S. Supreme Court case that reduced the EPA’s ability to regulate power plants under the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.12West Virginia, et al., Petitioners v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al,” No. 20-1530. PDFs on file at DeSmog.

Three separate briefs were filed by the Cato Institute (Associate Member), Competitive Enterprise Institute (Associate Member), and Buckeye Institute (Affiliate member).
Three additional briefs were filed by former SPN members, namely the Landmark Legal Foundation, Claremont Institute, and Southeastern Legal Foundation.13West Virginia, et al., Petitioners v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al,” No. 20-1530. PDFs on file at DeSmog.

January 2021

According to The New Yorker, the State Policy Network had arranged a conference call with billionaire political donor Charles Koch and Steve Donaldson, policy advisor to Senator Mitch McConnell, following the Democrats’ 2020 election victory, in an attempt to block the ratification of the For the People Act, an electoral reform bill intended to expand voting rights and limit the influence of money in politics. Participants in the call reportedly included Heather Lauer, executive director of People United for Privacy (a project of the State Policy Network) and Grover Norquist, the founder and President of Americans for Tax Reform.14Jane Mayer. “Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century,” The New Yorker, March 29, 2021. Archived May 21, 2021. Archive URL:

During the audio transcript of the call, MacKenzie said: 

“Don’t get into a fight in HR 1 when you engage with the other side’s talking point: “HR 1  stops billionaires from buying elections. Unfortunately, we found that is a winning message for both the general public and also conservatives. That simple message, by far and away, resonated with people, and when they had to compare that simple message versus tons of other ones, they were most persuaded by that and they found that to be most convincing…it riled them up the most.”15Jane Mayer. “Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century,” The New Yorker, March 29, 2021. Archived May 21, 2021. Archive URL:

He continued: 

“We undertook this research to test whether the phrase ‘cancel culture’ could be attached to HR 1, and using that to motivate the Right would be helpful. Unfortunately…this concept of cancel culture didn’t really resonate with people. Our phrase was something akin to ‘HR 1 is the Left’s attempt to use cancel culture to cancel conservatives,’ something like that. And it really ranked in the bottom, obviously, for the general public, and also for conservatives as well. So that was definitely a little concerning to us.”16Jane Mayer. “Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century,” The New Yorker, March 29, 2021. Archived May 21, 2021. Archive URL:

SPN states that membership is voluntary and by invitation-only. According to their website, “SPN‘s mission is to provide its members with capacity-building services. SPN neither directs nor manages its members’ programs or activities. SPN members pride themselves on their independence and relevancy to their respective states and/or areas of public policy research.”17SPN Membership Information,” State Policy Network. Archived September 18, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Archive URL:

Regular Members

“A regular member operates as a full-service think tank, addressing a variety of relevant policy issues, not just a single-issue. They will operate independently with their state, and not as part of a state chapter, franchise, other effort of a separate organization. Their primary goal is to provide educational materials to the citizenry, public officials, and members of the media with a state-based focus. They refuse to accept or solicit government funding, and are IRS approved 501(c)(3)s.”

Associate Members

Like regular members, associate members are organizations that display a commitment to a market-oriented foundational public policy. They are also IRS approved 501(c)(3) organizations primarily focused on education and operate independently of all government funding. However, unlike regular members, SPN Associate Members can be national in scope and are not necessarily oriented towards a single state.”

The State Policy Network listed the following members in their online directory, with prior years available via the internet archive. Alternatively view all State Policy Network member organizations in .xlsx format:18Directory,” State Policy Network. Accessed September 18, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

State Policy Network Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the State Policy Network (SPN) listed the following contact information on its website:19Contact Us,” State Policy Network. Archived June 29, 2016. Archive URL:

State Policy Network
1655 North Fort Myer Drive
Suite 360
Arlington, VA 22209

Phone: (703) 243-1655
Fax: (703) 740-0314

Social Media

Other Resources


Related Profiles

APCO Worldwide Background APCO has been described as “one of the world's most powerful PR firms.” [1], [2] According to its agency profile at O'Dwyers, “APCO Worldwide is a...
Hugh W. Ellsaesser Credentials Ph.D., Meteorology.“Re: Global warming: It's happening,” Letter to NaturalSCIENCE, January 29, 1998. Archived July 28, 2011. URL: https://arch...
Alfred (Al) Pekarek Credentials Ph.D., University of Wyoming (1974). [1]B.A. University of Minnesota-Twin (1965). [1] Background Alfred (Al) Pekarek is a former ass...
Benny Josef Peiser Credentials Ph.D. , University of Frankfurt (1993). Peiser studied political science, English, and sports science. [1], [2] Background Benny Peiser is a sports ...