Virginia Institute for Public Policy

Virginia Institute for Public Policy (VIPP)


The Virginia Institute for Public Policy (VIPP) is a think tank based in the U.S. with the goals of “individual opportunity and economic growth.” According to their website, the Institute “works ahead of the political process to lay the intellectual foundation for a society dedicated to individual liberty, free enterprise, private property, the rule of law, and constitutionally limited government.” [1]

The Virginia Institute for Public Policy describes itself as an “independent, nonpartisan, education and research organization that develops and promotes public policy consistent with the Virginia tradition of individual liberty, dynamic entrepreneurial capitalism, private property, the rule of law, and constitutionally-limited government.” [2]

The Virginia Institute for Public Policy is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), an organization that supports the work of some of the most prominent think tanks promoting climate change skepticism including the Heartland InstituteCato Institute, and Heritage Foundation. 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” (PDF) shows that SPN and its member think tanks share ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch brothers. [3], [4], [13]

The single largest donor to the Virginia Institute for Public Policy is Donors Capital Fund, which provided the VIPP at least $403,500. Donors Capital describes itself as a “donor-advised fund” designed to “safeguard the charitable intent of donors who are dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.”

Stance on Climate Change

“The facts show—despite increasingly shrill rhetoric—that planetary warming is not proceeding as originally predicted, and that it is evolving in a much more benign fashion than is generally portrayed. The facts show that there have been no major changes in Virginia’s climate.” [5]


Below is a summary of funding data on the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, compiled by the Conservative Transparency Project. Note that not all funding values have been verified by DeSmog. [6]

See the attached spreadsheet for additional information on the Virginia Institute for Public Policy’s funding (.xlsx).

William H. Donner Foundation$445,479
Donors Capital Fund$433,500
Chase Foundation of Virginia$341,000
The Roe Foundation$220,000
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation$89,000
The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation$62,000
State Policy Network$58,941
JM Foundation$55,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation$40,000
Cato Institute$25,000
E L Craig Foundation$15,000
Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice$15,000
Castle Rock Foundation$10,000
National Philanthropic Trust$500
Grand Total$1,825,420

Donors Capital Fund

Donors Capital Fund has provided at least $433,500 to the Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Donors Capital describes itself as a “donor-advised fund” designed to “safeguard the charitable intent of donors who are dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.”

990 Forms (EIN 54-1870848)

Key People

Board of Directors

As of August, 2016 (unchanged from 2015) the Virginia Institute of Public Policy listed the following on their Board of Directors (notable affiliations have been included):  [2], [20]

John Taylor
President of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Recipient of the 2012 John Marshall Award for “outstanding citizen leadership in the advancement of property rights,” given by the Virginia Property Rights Coalition; the Hero of the Taxpayer Award, an annual recognition given by Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C.; and the Eagle Award, an annual award given for pro-family, grassroots leadership by the Eagle Forum of St. Louis, Missouri.

Derwood S. Chase, Jr.

Founder and chairman emeritus of Chase Investment Counsel Corporation, which manages more than $500 million for a select group of clients throughout the United States. He is president of the Chase Foundation of Virginia, a trustee of the Reason Foundation and the Fraser Institute, and a former governor of the Investment Counsel Association of America.

Charles J. Cooper 

Timothy E. Donner

Served on the boards of trustees of the following organizations: the William H. Donner Foundation of New York, Radio America, the conservative radio network; Values Through Media, Cal Thomas’s foundation targeted at the mainstream media; the National Mental Health Association of Alexandria, Virginia; and the Donner Canadian Foundation, the third-largest national foundation in Canada.

Becky Norton Dunlop

Vice president at The Heritage Foundation.

Douglas C. Mills

Vice president for development with the Club for Growth. Mr. Mills previously served as executive vice president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, after having served as executive vice president of the Media Research Center for twelve years. 

Abby S. Moffat

Vice president, chief operating officer, and trustee of The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, which focuses on education, entrepreneurship, public policy, and global issues. She previously served as vice chair of grants and managing trustee of the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation.

Co-chairman of the Washington Studies Group, and holds professional memberships with the Philanthropy Roundtable and the Capital Speakers Club. On the boards of several non-profit organizations including the Institute of World Politics (member of the executive committee), the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (treasurer), the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Media Research Center (chairwoman of trustees), and The Heritage Foundation.

Richard F. Norman

President of The Richard Norman Company, Robertson Mailing List Company, and Patriot Data Services, which manages fund-raising programs for dozens of nationally known conservative nonprofit organizations and political campaigns.

He serves on the board of directors of the American Association of Political Consultants and the National Association of Republican Campaign Professionals and served on the State Finance Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia. 

Mark Skousen

Founder and producer of “FreedomFest,” an annual conference held in Las Vegas and billed as the world’s largest gathering of free minds on liberty. 

Lynn Taylor

Vice president and CFO of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy. She also serves as vice president and CFO of Tertium Quids. Prior to her current positions, Mrs. Taylor was managing director of the Charles G. Koch and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundations.

Served on the boards of The Heartland Institute for Public Policy, Chicago; the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, New York; and the Young Entrepreneurs of Washington, D.C. Member of The Federalist Society and The Philadelphia Society

Board of Scholars

As of August, 2016, the Virginia Institute of Public Policy listed the following on their “Board of Scholars” (notable affiliations have been included): [21]

Past Board of Scholars

Additional members of the Board of Scholars, as of September, 2015 included: [7]

Leonard P. Liggio — Distinguished Senior Scholar with the Institute for Humane Studies, where he served as president from 1980 to 1989. Research professor at the George Mason University School of Law and executive vice president of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Chairman of the Advisory Council of The Salvatori Center for Academic Leadership at The Heritage Foundation and is treasurer of the Mont Pelerin Society. Trustee with the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and with the Philadelphia Society, where he twice served as President (1992–93, 1994–95).

Tibor R. Machan — Research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University


July 12, 2016

The Virginia Institute for Public Policy, represented by Lynn Taylor, was among 22 groups represented in a “Coalition” open letter pushing back against what the Heartland Institute describes as an “affront to free speech.” The groups are responding to the recent Web of Denial Resolution brought up in the Senate, calling out fossil fuel industry-funded groups denying climate change. [16]

According to the Climate Investigations Center, all but one of the open letter’s signatory organizations have taken money (totalling at least $92 million since 1997) from the “climate denial web” including Koch Brothers’ various foundations, ExxonMobil, and two “Dark Money” organizations, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. [19]

Championed by Senators Whitehouse, Markey, Schatz, Boxer, Merkley, Warren, Sanders, and Franken, the resolution condemns what they are calling the #WebOfDenial — “interconnected groups – funded by the Koch brothers, major fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal, identity-scrubbing groups like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, and their allies – developed and executed a massive campaign to deceive the public about climate change to halt climate action and protect their bottom lines.” [17]

The open letter addresses the senators, calling them “tyrants”: 

“We hear you. Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeing with you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny. And, we reject it.” [18]

The full list of signatories and their respective organizations is as follows:

January 2016

Climate change denier Charles Battig went on the “Freedom & Prosperity Radio” show hosted by the Virginia Institute for Public Policy and Tertium quids to talk about the benefits of carbon dioxide (audio of full 1 hour program below): [14]

“Dr. Charles Battig discusses: the positive effects of carbon dioxide without which plants would die closely followed by the human race; and how according to the satellite data, there has been no global warming for the last 18 years.  Dr. Battig also asks if the environmentalists are so certain of their positions, why do they: refuse to debate, make personal attacks on opponents, refuse to release their data, and try to limit the freedom of speech of those who disagree with them.  Aren’t these actions more typical of the side that realizes it holds a losing hand?  Of what are they afraid other than losing their federal research bribes, er, grants?” reads the event program.

September 2015

The Virginia Institute for Public Policy was one of 58 nonprofit and other organizations joining the Center for Competitive Politics in opposing a change to nonprofit disclosure laws that would require groups to show the names of its biggest donors. [11]

According to a Tea-Party-aligned news source, the friend-of-the-court brief (PDF) alleges that General Harris is “imposing extortionate conditions violating federal tax return confidentiality law and multiple Constitutional provisions for charities and advocacy nonprofits to reach Californians.” [10], [12]

The 57 Co-AMICI are listed as follows:

501(c)(3) Organizations501(c)(4) OrganizationsFor-Profit Organizations
American Civil Rights UnionAmerican Council for Health Care ReformClearWord Communications Group Inc.
Center for Financial Privacy and Human RightsAmerican Grassroots Council Inc.Donor Trends Corporation
Citizens Council for Health FreedomAmerican Policy CenterEberle Associates
Citizens in ChargeCampaign for LibertyFund Raising Strategies Inc.
Citizens Outreach FoundationCitizens Outreach Inc.McFarland Messaging
Citizens United FoundationCitizens UnitedMDS Communications
Dreamchaser Horse Rescue & RehabilitationCoalition for America (The Weyrich Lunch) 
Family Research CouncilCommittee for the Republic 
Freedom AllianceConcerned Women for America 
Galen InstituteFaith & Freedom Coalition 
Gun Owners FoundationForAmerica (America Inc.) 
Homes for VeteransFrontiers of Freedom 
Independent Women’s ForumGrassroots Hawaii Action 
Ladies of Liberty AllianceGun Owners of America 
Media Research CenterIndependent Women’s Voice 
Project VeritasLiberty Guard 
Smiling Dog FarmsLiberty Initiative Fund 
The 60 Plus FoundationMaryland Taxpayer Association 
The Conservative Caucus FoundationNational Organization for Marriage 
The Family Action Council of Tennessee Inc.Patriot Voices 
The Leadership InstituteSecuring Equal Education Development 
The United States Constitutional Rights Legal Defense Fund Inc.Taxpayers Protection Alliance 
Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge/Tiger Missing Link FoundationThe 60 Plus Association Inc. 
Tiger Preservation CenterTraditional Values Coalition 
Traditional Values Coalition Education and Legal Institute  
Virginia Institute for Public Policy  
Young America’s Foundation  

May, 2003

William C. Dennis, member of the Board of Scholars of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, published an article in the VIPP‘s Virginia Viewpoint, titled “Earth Day Revisited.” [8]

According to Dennis, “Global warming, if it exists, is a manageable condition. The most recent computer models of possible human-induced global warming reduce the predicted amount of warming to much lower levels than earlier models. But computer models are only sophisticated guesses, and scientists are divided over the quality of the science behind them. Predicted changes are well within the range of known temperature fluctuations that have been recorded during human history.”

Dennis says that “Perhaps it is time for parents to sit down with their kids to present an alternative view of the state of the planet.”

“We must remind our kids, and occasionally ourselves, that assertions made about environmental degradation are often not supported by facts or science.” He continues, “We should not let this environment be threatened by the political agenda of those environmental groups that do not support the institutions of liberty.”

May 1, 2001

Patrick Michaels published an article in the Virginia Viewpoint, a publication of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, titled “Win The Kyoto Fight, Save Your Money” (PDF). [9]

Michaels makes the following assertions: [9]

  1. “Kyoto does nothing.”
  2. “Kyoto costs a fortune.”
  3. “Global warming is overblown. […] historical records show that about two-thirds of this warming will be
    in the cold portion of the year, and the lion’s share will be in the coldest, most deadly air. Does this sound like something we should spend a fortune trying to stop?”
  4. “Kyoto is fiscally irresponsible. “
  5. “Kyoto would harm the environment. […] the feds are likely to take the taxes meant to force us to stop burning gasoline, and literally throw them at windmills, or burn them in one of our dumbest technologies (because it can’t ever work on a large scale), solar energy.”

In conclusion, Michaels says “[W]e could just save our dough because the climate change issue is an overblown bunch of hooey, which is why President Bush killed Kyoto.” [9]

December 1999

The Virginia Institute for Public Policy published a Policy Study titled “The Science and Economics of Climate Change” by climate change skeptics Patrick J. Michaels (who has reported that “40 percent” of his funding comes from the oil industry) and Paul C. Knappenberger that opposed the Kyoto Protocol, suggesting that decisions should be “based upon facts, not feelings.” Their study also suggests that climate change is a natural cycle, and that it has “occurred in the past and it will occur again in the future.” [5]

Among the views presented include that emissions trading would be impractical as “any emissions trading proposal is likely to become mired in the U.S. legal system for years,” that jobs would be lost, gas prices would rise at an “increase of 50 percent,” and a number of other concerns. According to Michaels and Knappenberger, “Climate change may actually be benign relative to Virginia’s agriculture and forests. However, efforts to reduce emissions would undoubtedly be harmful to those sectors of Virginia’s economy that involve the mining and transporting of coal.” [5]

They conclude that “The facts show that there have been no major changes in Virginia’s climate. At the same time, the economic costs of the Kyoto Protocol are enormous.” and, according to them, “The conclusion should be obvious.” [5]

Virginia Institute for Public Policy Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the Virginia Institute for Public Policy listed the following contact information on its website: [15]

Virginia Institute for Public Policy
282 Bald Rock Road
Verona, VA 24482 
(540) 245-1776

JT[email protected]

  • George Mason University — At least eighteen members of the “Board of Scholars” are affiliated with George Mason University.
  • Heritage Foundation — Becky Norton Dunlop, VP of the Heritage Foundation, is a director of VIPP.
  • State Policy Network — Member (and funding recipient).  [3]


  1. Homepage, Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 25, 2015. URL
  2. Board of Directors,” Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 24, 2015. URL
  3. Directory,” State Policy Network. Accessed September 18, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  4. EXPOSED: The State Policy Network:The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government” (PDF) Centre for Media and Democracy, November, 2013. 
  5. Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger. “THE SCIENCE AND ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE,” Virginia Institute for Public Policy Policy Study no. 5 (December, 1999). Archived September 25, 2015. URL
  6. Virginia Institute for Public Policy,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed May 9, 2016. URL
  7. Board of Scholars,” Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 24, 2015. URL
  8. William C. Dennis. “Earth Day Revisited,” Virginia Viewpoint, May, 2003 (No. 2003-4). Archived September 25, 2015. URL
  9. Patrick J. Michaels. ”Win The Kyoto Fight, Save Your Money,” Virginia Viewpoint, May 1, 2001 (No. 2001-2). Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. URL
  10. FLASH: 58 Organizations Join Fight To Stop California AG Kamala Harris’s Illegal, Extortionate Privacy Violations,” ConservativeHQ, September 1, 2015. Archived May 9, 2016. URL
  11. Adam Lidgett. “Center For Competitive Politics v. Harris: Will The Supreme Court Hear Case On Nonprofit Donor Anonymity?”International Business Times, November 8, 2015. Archived May 10, 2016. URL
  12. CENTER FOR COMPETITIVE POLITICS, Petitioner, v. KAMALA D. HARRIS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CALIFORNIA, Respondent” (PDF), No. 15-142, September 1, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  13. Virginia Institute for Public Policy,” State Policy Network. Archived May 10, 2016.
  14. Freedom & Prosperity Radio,” Tertium Quids. Archived May 10, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  15. Contact,” Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Archived June 8, 2016. URL
  16. Jim Lakely. “#WebOfDenial Push by Senate Dems Exposes Their Hatred of Free Speech,” Somewhat Reasonable (Heartland Institute Blog), July 12, 2016. Archived July 14, 2016. URL
  17. Brendan Demelle. “Senators Launch Resolution, Speech Blitz Calling Out #WebOfDenial Blocking Climate Action, DeSmog, July 11, 2016.
  18. Coalition Letter to Senate Web of Denial Resolution (PDF). Retrieved from the Heartland Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSMogBlog.
  19. Cindy Baxter. “Front Groups Attacking #WebofDenial Senate Action Took Over $92M in Dark, Dirty Money,” Desmog, July 14, 2016. Originally posted at Climate Investigations Center.
  20. Board of Directors,” Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Archived August 3, 2016. URL
  21. Board of Scholars,” Virginia Institute for Public Policy. Archived August 3, 2016. URL

Other Resources

  1. Virginia Institute for Public Policy,” SourceWatch. 

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