Citizens Against Government Waste

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Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is a right-wing 501(c)3 non-profit that has campaigned on behalf of the tobacco industry and in favor of Microsoft and against open source software. CAGW is an "associate" member of the State Policy Network (SPN).[1]

CAGW has an affiliated 501(c)4 nonprofit lobbying arm, The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), "to advocate the elimination of waste and inefficiency in government through lobbying and grassroots activities. Each year, CCAGW tabulates its Congressional Ratings, evaluating how each member of Congress measures up on key tax and spending votes."[2]

State Policy Network

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.'"[5]

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.[6]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

CAGW has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It has been a member of ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. According to an August 2013 ALEC board document obtained by The Guardian, it terminated its ALEC membership on April 12, 2013.[7]

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.


CAGW was founded by in 1984 by J. Peter Grace (1913-1995) and Jack Anderson.[2]

CAGW Critical of Open Source Software

Australian blogger Tim Lambert mentioned in June 2004 CAGW as one of several "think tanks" writing reports critical of open source software.[8] CAGW's press release of July 12, 2004 is just another example. "People mistakenly refer to open source as 'free' software because it can be freely altered and distributed. Yet while the software itself is free, the cost to maintain and upgrade it can become very expensive," CAGW President Tom Schatz said. "Maintenance, training and support are far more expensive with open source than proprietary software."<ref. Citizens Against Government Waste, Government Reinforces Software Guidelines, press release, July 12, 2004.</ref>

In 1999 the New York Times had described CAGW as one of a number of "Microsoft-financed groups".[9]


CAGW, an IRS 501(c)(3) tax deductible charity, is closely linked to the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) which is an IRS 501(c)(4) and therefore it is not a tax deductible organization but more free to do lobbying. "[CCAGW] is the lobbying arm of CGAW."[2]

CAGW has consitently received funding from the right-wing Bradley Foundation. CAGW has also received $5.7 from DonorsTrust and Donors Capitol Fund since 2010. (See the full list of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund Grant Recipients).

Media Transparency's database records CAGW as having received 8 grants totalling $225,000 (unadjusted for inflation) from three foundations - the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation, John M. Olin Foundation and Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.[10]

The right-wing Capital Research Center (CRC) noted in its Searchlight database (which records corporate and general foundation contributions) that CAGW has "received funding from:

However, CRC's database generally did not record direct corporate contributions as distinct from grants from corporate foundations. A few examples of tobacco industry donations to CAGW:

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $7,019,241
  • Total Expenses: $3,023,349
  • Net Assets: $4,648,573


  • Total Revenue: $2,979,764
  • Total Expenses: $3,435,427
  • Net Assets: $640,241


  • Total Revenue: $2,976,032
  • Total Expenses: $3,089,908
  • Net Assets: $1,254,898


  • Total Revenue: $3,267,300
  • Total Expenses: $3,303,535
  • Net Assets: $1,164,273


Alan Keyes was president of CAGW from 1989 to 1991 and since the early 1990s Thomas A. Schatz has been president. See the full staff list on CAGW's website here.

Board of Directors

  • Steven Hofman, Chair
  • Jeffrey P. Altman, Partner, McKenna & Cuneo, L.L.P.
  • Michael Franc, D.C. Director Hoover Institution
  • Mary J. Grace, Principal, Mary J. Grace Architectural and Interior Design
  • Robert C. Heckman, Principal, Cpaitol City Partners
  • Thomas A. Schatz, President, Citizens Against Government Waste

Former Board of Directors

  • Jack Anderson, Co-Founder
  • George S. Goldberger, Chief Administrative Officer, Progenitor Cell Therapy, L.L.C.
  • Patrick P. Grace, President and CEO, Kingdon Group L.L.C.
  • Hon. Vin Weber, Senior Partner, Clark & Weinstock, Inc.


  • Thomas A. Schatz, President
  • Leslie K. Paige, Vice President, Policy & Communications
  • Ariane E. Sweeney, Vice President, Membership & Development
  • William M. Christian, Director of Government Affairs
  • Rachel Cole, Policy and Government Affairs Associate
  • Deborah Collier, Director of Technology and Telecommunications Policy
  • William H. Flores Jr., Director of Digital Operations
  • Kyle Hanlin, Director of Donor Relations
  • Curtis Kalin, Director of Media Relations
  • Sean Kennedy, Director of Research
  • Andrew Nehring, State Policy and Government Affairs Manager
  • Martin Rundle, Director of Development
  • Ally Schatz, Social Media Manager
  • Paul Sullivan, Membership Services Manager
  • Elizabeth L. Wright, Director of Health and Science Policy
  • Mekdes Yifru, Controller
  • Ernestine Hill, Office Administrator

Contact Information

CAGW Employer Identification Number (EIN): 52-1363925
CCAGW Employer Indentification Number (EIN): 51-1369152

Citizens Against Government Waste
1100 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 650
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202).467.5300
Twitter: @GovWaste

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

External Articles


  1. State Policy Network, Directory, State Policy Network, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Citizens Against Government Waste, Mission/History, organizational website, accessed March 8, 2017.
  3. David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million], ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  4. 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.
  5. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  6. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  7. American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting Board Meeting packet, organizational documents, August 6, 2013, released by The Guardian December 3, 2013.
  8. Tim Lambert, When Think tanks Attack, John Lott's Unethical Conduct, archived by the Wayback Machine on June 15, 2005.
  9. John M. Broder and Joel Brinkley, How Microsoft Sought to Gain Political Allies and Influence in Washington, New York Times, November 7, 1999.
  10. Media Transparency, Citizens Against Government Waste, organizational website, archive by Wayback Machine March 22, 2007.
  11. Citizens Against Government Waste, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, August 2, 2016.
  12. Citizens Against Government Waste, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, July 13, 2015.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Citizens Against Government Waste, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, July 28, 2014.

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