The Center for Media and Democracy, which calls itself “a non-partisan progressive watchdog group,” has issued a report highly critical of the nationally-organized State Policy Network (SPN) and its 63 state affiliates. In Tennessee, that’s the Beacon Center of Tennessee, formerly known as the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.
Excerpt from the snippet on Beacon Center of Tennessee (Link HERE):
While the Beacon Institute is not required to disclose its donors to the public, and does not publish a list voluntarily, the identities of its few known donors reveal the institute is largely funded by out-of-state right-wing special interest groups. Most notably, the Beacon Center has received over $1.1 million from two Koch-funded groups, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, known as the “dark money ATM of the conservative movement.” Funding from the Donors groups in 2010 made up over 38% of the institute’s total revenue. All of the Beacon Center’s known funders are based outside of Tennessee.
Here are some of the key findings of our investigation of SPN:
–SPN and its affiliates push an extreme right-wing agenda that aims to privatize education, block healthcare reform, restrict workers’ rights, roll back environmental protections, and create a tax system that benefits most those at the very top level of income.
–SPN “think tanks” work together in coordinated efforts to push their agenda, often using the same cookie-cutter research and reports, all while claiming to be independent and creating state-focused solutions that purportedly advance the interests or traditions of the state.
–While it has become an $83 million dollar right-wing empire, SPN and most of its affiliates do not post their major donors on their websites. The identities of the donors we have discovered reveal that SPN is largely funded by global corporations – such as Reynolds American, Altria, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods, Express Scripts, Comcast, Time Warner, and the Koch-and Tea Party-connected DCI Group lobbying and PR firm – that stand to benefit from SPN’s destructive agenda, as well as out-of-state special interests like the billionaire Koch brothers, the Waltons, the Bradley Foundation, the Roe Foundation, and the Coors family – that are underwriting an extreme legislative agenda that undermines the traditional rights of modern Americans. Corporations like Facebook and the for-profit online education company K12 Inc., as well as the e-cigarette company NJOY, as demonstrated at its most recent annual meeting.
–Although SPN think tanks are registered as educational nonprofits, several appear to orchestrate extensive lobbying and political operations to peddle their legislative agenda to state legislators, despite the IRS’s regulations on nonprofit political and lobbying activities.
–SPN and many of its affiliates are some of the most active members and largest sponsors of the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where special interest groups and state politicians vote behind closed doors on “model” legislation to change Americans’ rights, through ALEC’s task forces. SPN has close ties to,and works with, other national right-wing organizations like the Franklin Center and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity.