Alabama Policy Institute

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The Alabama Policy Institute (API) is a conservative think tank "dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families."[1] It is a state think tank member of the State Policy Network (SPN). API's former president, Gary Palmer, was also the president of SPN's board of directors.[2] API is now led by Caleb Crosby.[3]

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of October 2019, SPN's membership totals 162. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million.[4] Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[5]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[6]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[7]

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Alabama Policy Institute has hosted writers from the ALEC-connected Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which screens potential reporters on their “free market” views as part of the job application process.[8] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[9] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[10][11] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[12]

Franklin Center Funding

Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center's funding "is 100 percent anonymous." But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large "donor-advised fund," cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin's Internal Revenue Service records).[13] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[14] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[13]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[15] a conservative grant-making organization.[16]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[17] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[18] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[19] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[20] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

"Investigative Journalism"

According to API’s 2011 IRS Form 990, the group spent $17,344 to employ an "investigative journalist."[21]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Former API Vice President Michael Ciamarra is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.[22]

The API also has ties to ALEC through its membership in the State Policy Network (SPN), which itself is an ALEC member. API's president, Gary Palmer, is a founding director of SPN. He has been on the SPN board of directors for six years, the final two as president.[2]

SPN's predecessor, the Madison Group, was "launched by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC . . . and housed in the Chicago-based Heartland Institute," according to a 1991 report by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) found in the University of California-San Francisco's Legacy Tobacco Documents.[23][24]

The case is strengthened by an October 1987 ALEC directory also available via the Tobacco Documents that says, "The Madison Group is chaired by Mrs. Constance Heckman [now Constance Campanella, founder of the lobbying firm Stateside Associates], Executive Director of ALEC . . ."[25] A speakers list also available in the Tobacco Documents says in Constance Campanella's biography, "She was a co-founder and first President of The Madison Group, the first network of free-market state think tanks."[26]

SPN has been a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for many years. In the mid-2000s, SPN secured funding for more of its member think tanks to join ALEC in order to help develop model legislation. By 2009, 22 SPN member think tanks were active ALEC members and participants in ALEC task forces, according to an SPN newsletter, and SPN was being rewarded for its services by ALEC.[27] As of 2013, at least 35 SPN member think tanks have demonstrable ties to ALEC in addition to SPN's own ties, and all of SPN's member think tanks push ALEC's agenda in their respective states, according to a review by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

See SPN Ties to ALEC for more.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $1,076,626
  • Total Expenses: $1,190,670
  • Net Assets: $40,179


  • Total Revenue: $1,023,656
  • Total Expenses: $1,017,943
  • Net Assets: $514,230


  • Total Revenue: $1,091,626
  • Total Expenses: $1,052,028
  • Net Assets: $508,517


  • Total Revenue: $1,284,061
  • Total Expenses: $1,312,496
  • Net Assets: $468,919


  • Total Revenue: $1,166,931
  • Total Expenses: $1,176,074
  • Net Assets: $497,354


  • Total Revenue: $1,148,661
  • Total Expenses: $1,219,046
  • Net Assets: $509,497


  • Total Revenue: $1,100,517.00
  • Total Expenses: $1,110,437.00
  • Net Assets: $576,881.00


  • Total Revenue: $1,106,954.00
  • Total Expenses: $1,112,979.00
  • Net Assets: $586,801.00



As of September 2019[3]:

  • Caleb Crosby, President and CEO
  • Nikki Richardson, Executive Vice President
  • Carl Jones, COO
  • Phil Williams, Director of Policy Strategy and General Counsel
  • Josh Pendergrass, Chief Communications Officer
  • Drayton Nabers, Distinguished Fellow
  • Adam J. MacLeod, Professorial Fellow
  • Dana Hall McCain, Resident Fellow
  • Matthew Stokes, Resident Fellow
  • Parker Snider, Director of Policy Analysis
  • Will Fagan, Development Officer
  • Meredith Stanley, Office Administrator

Former Staff

  • J. Pepper Bryars, Senior Fellow
  • Rachel Blackmon Bryans, Senior Fellow
  • Katie Gannon, Donors Relation Manager
  • Gary Palmer, President
  • Michael Ciamarra, Vice President
  • Ray Hartwell, Senior Fellow
  • Andrew Kinnaird, Policy Analyst
  • JoAnne Lindley, Director, Special Events and Donor Relations
  • Elizabeth BeShears, Policy Analyst and Grant Coordinator
  • Cameron Smith, Policy Director and General Counsel
  • Carol Walden, Publication Manager
  • Katherine Robertson, Vice President
  • Taylor Dawson, Director of Institutional Advancement
  • Andrew Yerbey, Senior Policy Counsel
  • Caitlin Williams, Roy and Sue Nichols Fellow
  • Charleigh Cagle, Development Manager
  • Katie Tooker, Executive Assistant
  • Dr. John Hill, Senior Research Analyst
  • Richard Garrett, Senior Fellow
  • Sherri Bartels, Accountant

Board of Directors

API no longer lists its board of directors online, but API listed the following either on an archived version of its website, or its 2016 990 forms:[36][28]:

  • Charlie and Lila Bailey
  • Tom and Mary Anne Bradford, Executive Committee Member
  • Greg and Dee Brown
  • Michael and Kay Brown
  • Todd and Karen Carlisle
  • John and Julie Collier, Secretary
  • Bob and Mary Ann Couch, Executive Committee Member
  • Caleb and Destin Crosby, API President
  • Bo and Tammy Cross
  • Bruce and Ida Dundar
  • Rev. Aaron and Chris Fleming
  • Richard and Judy Garrett
  • Rob and Shawn Grubb
  • Don and Betty Harrison, Treasurer
  • Don and Janice Hendry, Executive Committee Member
  • Hugh and Jan Jacks
  • Chuck and Kim Jett
  • Neil and Helen Kennedy, Executive Committee Member
  • Mike and Larke Lanier
  • Chad and Angie Mathis
  • Brant and Sallie McDuffie
  • Steve and Diane McKinney, Executive Committee Member
  • Bill and Lana McNair, Executive Committee Member
  • Alastair and Lisa Ann Muir-Taylor
  • Roy and Sue Nichols
  • Ronnie and Nancy Norris
  • John S. and May Moss Parker, Executive Committee Member
  • Ralph and Lynn Parrish
  • Donny and Katharine Patton
  • Randy and Daina Pittman
  • Nikki Richardson, Executive Vice President
  • Rod and Linda Steakley, Executive Committee Member
  • Scott and Kellie Stewart
  • Richard and Leah Stimpson, Chairman
  • Jim and Darcy Terry
  • Bob and Beth Walker
  • Mark and Missi Wesson
  • Lex and Mary Williamson
  • Bryan and Holly Word, Executive Committee Member
  • Al and Nancy Worthington

Former Board Members

  • Barganier, Dr. Paul and Karen
  • Hornsby, John and Virginia
  • Newton, Dr. Allen and Brenda
  • Palmer, Gary and Ann – API President
  • Pursley, Dr. Mike and Dr. Holly
  • Reid, Dr. Calvin and Yvonne
  • Mac and Jackie McInnis
  • Charlie and Susan Stephens

Contact Information

Alabama Policy Institute
Post Office Box 131088
Birmingham, AL 35213
Phone: (205) 870-9900
Fax: (205) 449-9990

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

Related PRWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. Alabama Policy Institute, "About API", organizational website, accessed June 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Alabama Policy Institute, "Gary Palmer", organizational website, accessed June, 28, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 API our staff organizational website, accessed Sept, 28 2019
  4. David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million], ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  5. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  6. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  7. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  8. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  9. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  10. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  11. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  12. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source,, October 27, 2011.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  14. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  15. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  16. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  17. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  18. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  19. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  20. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  21. Bill Britt, "State Think Tank Promotes Nonprofit Investigative Journalism", Alabama Political Reporter, May 27, 2013.
  22. State Policy Network, Michael Ciamarra, organizational blog biography, accessed October 2012.
  23. National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Special Report: Burgeoning Conservative Think Tanks, organizational report, Spring 1991, p. 2.
  24. Rebekah Wilce, Did ALEC Found SPN? 1991 Report Suggests So, Exposes SPN Agenda, PRWatch, December 12, 2013.
  25. American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC Personnel Directory, The State Factor, October 1987, p. 3.
  26. Speakers List, document available in the University of California-San Francisco's Legacy Tobacco Documents, accessed December 2013.
  27. State Policy Network, SPN & Alec: A Model Relationship, SPN News, organizational newsletter, July/August 2009, p. 4.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Alabama Policy Institute, 2016 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, April 28 2018
  29. Alabama Policy Institute, 2015 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 15 2017
  30. Alabama Policy Institute, 2014 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, March 1, 2016.
  31. Alabama Policy Institute, 2013 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, January 13, 2015.
  32. Alabama Policy Institute, 2012 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, January 30, 2014.
  33. Alabama Policy Institute, 2011 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, February 21, 2013.
  34. Alabama Policy Institute, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
  35. Alabama Policy Institute, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
  36. Alabama Policy Institute, Board of Directors, organizational website via wayback machine, 2017