RALEIGH—According to new reports from national watchdogs, North Carolina’s conservative “think tanks”—the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institutue— are part of a vast right-wing network of conservative groups and big-money donors, but the North Carolina media often does not portray them that way.
The John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute are part of the State Policy Network (SPN), a network of state-based right-wing think tanks funded by the Koch brothers and other major conservative donors.
- A new report from the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) dubs SPN affiliates as “Stink Tanks” after peeling back the layers to look at how SPN is funded and how it helps push a pro-corporate ALEC-driven agenda in the states.
- The North Carolina-specific Stink Tank report, not surprisingly focuses a lot of attention on Art Pope. But in addition to Pope, CMD found that Locke and Civitas received funding from the Koch-backed Donors Trust, which has been called the “dark money ATM of the conservative movement.” The two NC groups have also received funding from other national conservative donors and funds.
- Newly leaked documents published by The Guardian, show Locke and Civitas applied for grants through the SPN from the Searle Freedom Trust — a major donor of the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Guardian report illustrates how SPN affiliates help push the pro-corporate agenda developed by ALEC’s corporate sponsors in state legislatures.
- Finally, an analysis of news coverage of Locke and Civitas by the media watchdog group Media Matters, finds that North Carolina newspapers often fail to mention the groups’ conservative agenda and ties to major conservative donors. The report finds that 64% of the articles mentioning Locke in the past six months did not disclose the groups’ conservative leaning. 30% of mentions of Civitas over the same period did not disclose the group’s conservative ideology.
“North Carolina’s ‘stink tanks’ are part of a vast right-wing network of donors pushing an ideological agenda,” said Gericck Brenner of Progress NC. “North Carolinians should think twice next time they read something from one of these so-called independent organizations. These groups are paid to force feed us from their ideological trough. They are more interested in pushing their right-wing agenda than they are in helping North Carolina’s hard-working taxpayers and middle-class families.”