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MA - Who Is Behind The Pioneer Institute?

MA - Who Is Behind The Pioneer Institute?

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Published by: progressnow on Nov 07, 2013
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12/17/2013

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SPN In Your State: massachusetts
Who Is Behind The Pioneer Institute?
The State Policy Network (SPN) is an umbrella group of right-wing think tanks across the country. The Pioneer Institute is SPN’s cookie-cutter think tank in Massachusetts. While the institute claims to be focused on issues important to the people of Massachusetts, it actually pushes an agenda dictated by its national right-wing funders and partners. SPN also has two closely connected associate members in Massachusetts: the Beacon Hill Institute and the Tuerck Foundation for the Study of Economics, Law and the Humanities. 
ALEC in the Bay State
The Pioneer Institute has close connections to the  American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial right-wing organization where state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists come together to vote on "model" legislation behind closed doors, with no public input, which is then introduced in state legislatures across the country. ALEC's agenda often mirrors the special interests of its corporate members. The Pioneer Institute is a member of  ALEC's Education Task Force, where the institute writes, votes on, and/or advocates for model legislation to privative public schools, attack teachers' rights, and give tax credits to corporations that fund private schools. The State Policy Network, which the Pioneer Institute is an affiliate of, is also a long time member and sponsor of  ALEC. Additionally, the man behind SPN's two associate members in Massachusetts - David Tuerck - has spoken at ALEC conferences in the past.
 
How the Pioneer Institute Fits Into the National Right-Wing Network
By the late 1980s, conservative activists had tried to start several right-wing think tanks in Massachusetts, but none had been successful. It was not until businessman and major Republican funder Lovett C. Peters offered $160,000 to start a new think tank, which became the Pioneer Institute. With Peters’ funding and the association with the national State Policy Network, the Pioneer Institute has become a powerful mainstay both in the Massachusetts’s conservative circles and the national right-wing network. The institute has been credited for laying the groundwork that led to the elections of recent Republican governors in the state, including Mitt Romney. Since its founding, founder Lovett Peters has won awards for his work with the Pioneer Institute from the State Policy Network and the Mackinac Center (Michigan’s SPN think tank). In addition to its membership in SPN and ALEC, the Pioneer Institute maintains close connections to other conservative groups. Over the years, the Pioneer Institute has worked with the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Franklin Center . The funding sources behind the Pioneer Institute further reveal their right-wing connections. The institute has received $300,000 directly from the notorious Koch brothers, through the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, in addition in the nearly half a million it has received from the Koch-funded Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, known as the “dark money ATM of the conservative movement.” Other major funders include the Walton Family Foundation (of Walmart) and the Roe Foundation (of SPN founder Thomas Roe). The few known Pioneer donors are all based outside of Massachusetts:
 
FUNDER BASED IN AMOUNT YEARS The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation
Maryland $641,000 1998-2007
Donors Trust/Donors Capital Fund
Virginia $481,500 2007-2011
Jaquelin Hume Foundation
California $359,500 1999-2011
Walton Family Foundation
 Arkansas $316,850 1998-2001
David H. Koch Charitable Foundation
Kansas $300,000 1995-2001
The Roe Foundation
South Carolina $83,000 1998-2011
Smith Richardson Foundation
North Carolina $50,000 1996
JM Foundation
New York $25,000 2011
John M. Olin Foundation
New York $20,000 1992
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation
Maryland $15,000 2008
Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation
Indiana $10,000 2009
The Randolph Foundation
New York $1,000 2009

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