|Brendan McDermid / Reuters file David Koch is shown in New York on Dec. 10. In 2010, nearly half of the revenue for David Koch's Americans for Prosperity Foundation came from Donors Trust, in the form of $7.6 million in grants.|
Koch-funded charity passes money to free-market think tanks in states
“The source is 100 percent anonymous,” said Michael Moroney, a spokesman for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the think tank that created the outlets.
The $6.3 million donation to the Franklin Center was the second-largest gift made in 2011 by the group, a tax-exempt “public charity” that takes tax-deductible donations from donors “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,” according to its website.
In 1998, with help from Donors Trust co-founder and board chairman Kim Dennis, Searle established an endowment called the Searle Freedom Trust, now worth $114 million, which has in turn given generously to Donors Trust
‘Great guys’The Searle Freedom Trust is one of dozens of conservative foundations that have given tens of millions of dollars to Donors Trust from 2001 to 2011. Among the group’s donors is the Knowledge and Progress Fund, a Wichita, Kan.-based foundation run by Charles Koch.
Dozens of other major conservative philanthropies have Donors Trust accounts, including the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation and the Coors family’s Castle Rock Foundation, according to IRS records.
Money in the statesFor a decade, Donors Trust has bolstered the efforts of D.C.-based conservative think tanks, including Cato, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute — whose president, Arthur C. Brooks, is on the Donors Trust board.
A laboratory for corporate-friendly laws in the states, ALEC hosts closed-door meetings where corporate lobbyists and state legislators meet to hammer out free-market legislation.
Ten state-level think tanks got a total of $200,000 from Donors Trust to attend ALEC meetings in 2011 including the Michigan-based Mackinac Center and the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, which introduced a raft of anti-union model bills at ALEC’s spring 2012 conference.
When asked to comment on the criticism, Franklin Center spokesman Moroney said: “Franklin Center adheres to the highest degree of journalistic integrity and we stand by our Watchdog.org reporting 100 percent. In this case, the Associated Press had it wrong.”
The Center for Public Integrityis a non-profit independent investigative news outlet. For more of its stories go to publicintegrity.org