Liberal groups blast Florida “think tanks” for advancing Koch brothers’ agendaby John Kennedy | November 13th, 2013
A pair of left-leaning advocacy organizations released a series of reports Wednesday tracing the work of dubious “think tanks” across the country, financed by the billionaire Koch brothers and other conservative backers.
Florida’s Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability, headquartered in Naples, were among the groups singled out for their connections to Charles Koch and parttime Palm Beacher David Koch.
Like most groups mentioned in the reports by the Center for Media and Demcracy and Progress Now, the Florida think tanks have supported policies limiting public pensions, advancing charter schools, and addressing utility issues in ways opposed by leading consumer groups.
“These are corporate mercenaries who push their agenda at every level of government,” John Loredo, a former Arizona House Democratic leader, said of the think tanks.
The reports cover a number of states where mostly Republican-led Legislatures and governors have advanced policies also limiting voting rights, promoting gun initiatives and reducing corporate taxes. The think tanks cited often provide research and personal endorsements that add credence to the measures, opponents said.
The think tanks operate under the loose-knit title of State Policy Network, sharing data and goals, said Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy.
“In reality, SPN is a front for corporate interests with an extreme national policy agenda tied to some of the most retrograde special interests in the country,” Graves said.
The reports are here: http://bit.ly/YVX3kd
The president of the James Madison Institute, Robert McClure, dismissed the findings.
“Anyone who knows of or has worked with JMI would read the first few lines of this report and realize that it is full of cherry-picked misinformation and misleading statements,” McClure told the Post. “The James Madison Institute’s priorities are solely driven by our Florida-based staff and completely focused on the well being of our great state and its people.”