James Madison Institute

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James Madison Institute (JMI) is a right-wing advocacy group that calls itself a "think tank" and describes its mission as "to keep the citizens of Florida informed about their government and to shape our state's future through the advancement of practical free-market ideas on public policy issues."[1] It was founded in 1987 and is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of state pressure groups that denote themselves as "think tanks" and drive a right-wing agenda in statehouses nationwide. An August 2013 board document of the related group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) alleges that JMI is a "former SPN member,"[2] but the SPN website still lists JMI as a full member as of August 2016,[3] and a July 2013 JMI fundraising proposal to Searle Freedom Trust was included in a packet of SPN proposals in August 2013.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

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.'"[7]

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.[8]

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Ties to the Koch Brothers

JMI has deep ties to the Koch brothers. The organization received $1,340,242 from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund between 2005 and 2014. JMI also received $286,384 between 2007 and 2014 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

As of August 2016, JMI is listed as a "partner organization" in the Charles Koch Institute's Liberty@Work program.[9]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

JMI has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It was listed as a member of ALEC's Education Task Force and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force until it terminated its membership on February 13, 2013 because "SPN did not renew [JMI's] membership," according to an August 2013 ALEC board document obtained by The Guardian.[2] It has also had ties through a member of its Research Advisory Council, James M. Taylor, also of the Heartland Institute. Mr. Taylor is involved with the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force as a frequent guest speaker.[10][11]

JMI was listed as a new member of ALEC's Education Task Force as of April 2012.[12]

Please 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 ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The James Madison 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.[13] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[14] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[15][16] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[17]

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).[18] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[19] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[18]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[20] a conservative grant-making organization.[21]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[22] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[23] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[24] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[25] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

News and Controversies

Leaked Audio Shows JMI, Florida Utilities Deceived Public on Amendment 1

Leaked audio offers new evidence that Florida utilities and their allies have sought to deceive the public into believing that the utility-funded Amendment 1 ballot initiative was pro-solar, when in reality its goal was to undercut attempts to allow third-party sales of rooftop solar. Audio obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and the Energy and Policy Institute captures James Madison Institute's Sal Nuzzo boasting that JMI and other Amendment 1 backers successfully misled the public into believing it was pro-solar. Speaking to other State Policy Network member organizations, Nuzzo, JMI's vice president of policy and director of the center said:[26]

The point I would make, maybe the takeaway, is as you guys look at policy in your state or constitutional ballot initiatives in your state, remember this: solar polls very well. To the degree that we can use a little bit of political jiu-jitsu and take what they’re kind of pinning us on and use it to our benefit either in policy, in legislation or in constitutional referendums if that’s the direction you want to take, use the language of promoting solar, and kind of, kind of put in these protections for consumers that choose not to install rooftop."

Nuzzo, speaking at the "Energy/Environment Leadership Summit," on October 2, 2016 in Nashville, TN, later acknowledges that a competing, legitimately pro-solar ballot amendment which aimed to remove Florida’s ban on third-party sales of solar power enjoyed popular support, including from the political right.[26]

In response to the threat to their monopoly control of electric sales, utilities set up their own group in 2015, called "Consumers for Smart Solar." Nuzzo described how the utilities, via Consumers for Smart Solar, responded to the threat to their monopoly by asking JMI to publish a study attacking the amendment, which it did in December of 2015. The Coalition for Solar Choice ballot initiative did not qualify for the 2016 ballot, thanks in part to deceptive ballot collection tactics employed by the utility-backed Consumers for Smart Solar group. Nuzzo went on to describe how Consumers for Smart Solar ensured that its ballot initiative would appear to be favorable for solar power, and how it was designed expressly to submarine the pro-solar effort from the Coalition for Solar Choice.

JMI Called Out for Blocking Action on Climate Change

In July of 2016, nineteen U.S. Senators delivered a series of speeches denouncing climate change denial from 32 organizations with links to fossil-fuel interests, including the James Madison Institute.[27] Sen. Whitehouse (RI-D), who led the effort to expose "the web of denial" said in his remarks on the floor that the purpose was to,

"shine a little light on the web of climate denial and spotlight the bad actors in the web, who are polluting our American discourse with phony climate denial. This web of denial, formed over decades, has been built and provisioned by the deep-pocketed Koch brothers, by ExxonMobil, by Peabody coal, and by other fossil fuel interests. It is a grim shadow over our democracy in that it includes an electioneering effort that spends hundreds of millions of dollars in a single election cycle and threatens any Republican who steps up to address the global threat of climate change. . . . [I]t is long past time we shed some light on the perpetrators of this web of denial and expose their filthy grip on our political process. It is a disgrace, and our grandchildren will look back at this as a dirty time in America’s political history because of their work.”[27]

Questionable Campaign Contribution

JMI contributed $591 to the Republican Party of Florida in June 2006, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.[28] The IRS prohibits 501(C)(3) nonprofits from engaging in any political activity and explicitly states that campaign contributions are a prohibited campaign activity.[29] It is not clear if this contribution was a reimbursement of some kind or what the legal rationale was for this money flowing from a charity to a political party.


The James Madison Institute has received more than $1 million from organizations funded by the Koch brothers and has consistently advocated for policies that protect the Kochs' bottom line rather than the best interests of Floridians, according to a November 2013 report by Progress Florida and the Center for Media and Democracy.[30]

The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation contributed $286,384 to JMI between 2007 and 2014. However, as the report notes, "the Kochs are known to fund special interest groups in ways other than through the charities in their name. For example, it has been discovered that Koch Industries funds some of the SPN groups directly, and because that corporation is not publicly traded, its donations are not publicly reported. Similarly, it has been documented that the Koch brothers fund special interests through personal checks and trust account transfers (not from their charities) to other groups that are not required to publicly report their donations."[30]

JMI received $1,340,242 from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund between 2005 and 2014, "two funds that have been closely tied to the Kochs but which obscure the percentage of their grants coming from Koch money. In 2011, contributions from the Donors groups made up 10 percent of JMI's grants," according to the report.[30](See here for a complete list of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund grant recipients.)

Between 2012 and 2014, the State Policy Network contributed $252,200 to the James Madison Institute.

In its 2006 annual report, the Cato Institute states that it gave a grant of $100,000 to the James Madison Institute.[31]

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $1,590,520
  • Total Expenses: $2,052,409
  • Net Assets: $859,210


  • Total Revenue: $1,913,472
  • Total Expenses: $1,681,516
  • Net Assets: $1,509,644


  • Total Revenue: $1,250,415
  • Total Expenses: $1,655,681
  • Net Assets: $1,277,688


  • Total Revenue: $1,694,754
  • Total Expenses: $1,770,365
  • Net Assets: $1,682,954


  • Total Revenue: $1,966,419
  • Total Expenses: $1,297,246
  • Net Assets: $1,758,565


  • Total Revenue: $1,785,368
  • Total Expenses: $1,107,183
  • Net Assets: $1,089,392


  • Total Revenue: $909,458
  • Total Expenses: $874,987
  • Net Assets: $411,208



As of October 2018:[39]

  • J. Robert McClure, III, President and CEO
  • Rebecca Liner, Executive Vice President
  • Sal Nuzzo, Vice President of Policy and Director of the Center for Economic Prosperity
  • William Mattox, Director of the J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options
  • Jill Mattox, Foundation Grants Manager
  • Jessica Brewton, Director of Events and Logistics
  • Logan Padgett, Director of Communication and Public Affair
  • Tanja Clendinen, Database Manager

Former Staff

  • J. Stanley Marshall, Founding Chairman
  • Robert F. Sanchez, Director of Policy
  • Francisco Gonzalez, Vice President of Advancement
  • Valerie Wickboldt, Vice President of Communications
  • Daniel Peterson, Director of the Center for Property Rights
  • Alyssa Gill, Director of Events and Logistics
  • Dana Edwards, Director of Creative & Digital Strategy
  • Don Orrico, Southwest Florida Development Director
  • Samantha Blair, Executive Assistant to the President
  • Scott Sholl, Florida Verve Editor

Board of Directors

As of October 2018:[40]

  • Allan G. Bense, Chairman (Former Florida House Speaker)
  • Glen Blauch, Treasurer (President and CEO of Blauch and Associates)
  • J.F. Bryan IV (former President of Independent Insurance Group)
  • Robert H. Gidel Sr., Vice Chairman (Managing Member of Liberty Capital Advisors)
  • Timothy M. Cerio (General Counsel to Florida Governor Rick Scott)
  • L. Charles Hilton Jr., Chairman Emeritus (Chairman of the Board, Hilton, Inc.)
  • John F. Kirtley (Co-founder, FCP Investors)
  • Frank Kruppenbacher (Partner with the law firm of Morgan and Morgan)
  • J. Robert McClure III, Ex-Officio (President and CEO of JMI)
  • Liza Shultz (Chief Services Officer of CNL Financial Group)
  • Jeffrey V. Swain, Chairman (Owner, Performance Video)
  • Joe S. York, (President of AT&T Florida)

Former Directors

  • Stan Connally (President and CEO, Gulf Power)
  • Charles E. Cobb (Former US Ambassador to Iceland)
  • J. Stanley Marshall, Vice-Chairman (Founding Chairman of JMI)
  • Rebecca Walter Dunn
  • George W. Gibbs III (Chairman and CEO, Atlantic Marine Holding Company)
  • Fred Leonhardt
  • John Hrabusa (Senior VP, Human Resources, Publix Super Markets)
  • Thomas K. Sittema (Chief Executive Officer of CNL Financial Group)

Research Advisory Council

As of August 2016:[41]

  • Dr. Michael Bond, Senior Lecturer, Department of Finance, University of Arizona
  • Dr. Jack Chambless, Professor of Economics, Valencia College
  • Dr. Marshall DeRosa, Professor of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University
  • Dr. Thomas DiBacco, Professor Emeritus of History, American University
  • Dr. Dino Falaschetti, Director of Operations, Mercatus Center at George Mason University
  • Elizabeth Price Foley, Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law
  • Dr. James Gwartney, Professor of Economics, Florida State University
  • Dr. Bradley K. Hobbs, Professor of Free Enterprise, Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Dr. Randall Holcombe, Professor of Economics, Florida State University
  • Robert Poole, Director of Transportation Policy, Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow, Reason Foundation
  • Dr. Barry Poulson, Professor of Economics, University of Colorado
  • Dr. Linda Raeder, Professor of Politics, Palm Beach Atlantic University
  • Dr. Derek Yonai J.D., Professor of Economics and Free Enterprise, Florida Southern College
  • Peter Schweizer, Author and Speaker
  • Dr. Sam Staley, Managing Director, DeVoe L. Moore Center at The Florida State University
  • James M. Taylor, J.D., Senior Fellow of Environmental Policy, Heartland Institute
  • Dr. J. Antonio Villamil, Founder and Principal of The Washington Economics Group, Inc.

Former Research Advisors

  • Dr. Susan Aud, Research Associate, Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation
  • J.B. Ruhl, J.D., Professor of Law, Florida State University College of Law

Contact Information

James Madison Institute
The Columns
100 North Duval Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: (850) 386-3131
Toll-free (866) 340-3131
Fax: (850) 386-1807
Website: http://www.jamesmadison.org
Email: jmi@jamesmadison.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JmsMadisonInst
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesMadisonInstitute

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

Related PRWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. James Madison Institute, About JMI, organizational website, accessed March 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting Board Meeting packet, organizational documents, August 6, 2013, released by The Guardian December 3, 2013.
  3. State Policy Network, Directory: Florida, organizational website, accessed August 2016.
  4. State Policy Network, Searle Tax and Budget Grant Proposals, organizational fundraising proposal packet, July 29, 2013, obtained and released by The Guardian December 5, 2013.
  5. David Armiak, https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2019/11/13/revenue-state-policy-network-state-affiliates-tops-120-million/ Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million], ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  6. 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.
  7. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  8. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  9. Charles Koch Institute, Partner Organizations, Charles Koch Institute, 2016.
  10. "Research Advisory Council", organizational website, accessed October 2012
  11. Common Cause "35 Day Mailing to Members of the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force", June 30 2011
  12. American Legislative Exchange Council, Education Task Force meeting agenda and materials, April 6, 2012, on file with CMD.
  13. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  14. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  15. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  16. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  17. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source, PRWatch.org, October 27, 2011.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  19. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  20. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  21. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  22. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  23. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  24. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  25. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Nick Surgey and David Pomerantz, Leaked Audio Shows How Florida Utilities Sought to Deceive Public Into Believing Amendment 1 is Pro-Solar, ExposedbyCMD, October 18, 2016.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Sheldon Whitehouse, "Senators Call Out Web of Denial Blocking Action On Climate Change," Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, July 15, 2016.
  28. National Institute on Money in State Politics, Florida 2006: Contributions to FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY From JAMES MADISON INSTITUTE, Follow the Money national database of money in state politics, accessed November 2013.
  29. U.S. Internal Revenue Service, The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations, federal government agency website, accessed November 2013.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Progress Florida and Center for Media and Democracy, The James Madison Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability: Lawmaking under the Influence of Very Special Interests, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  31. Cato Institute, 2006 Annual Report, pages 19-23.
  32. James Madison Institute, [paper copy 2016 Form 990], annual organizational IRS filing, Nov 15, 2017.
  33. James Madison Institute, 2014 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, September 1, 2015.
  34. James Madison Institute, 2013 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, September 16, 2014.
  35. James Madison Institute, 2012 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, November 14, 2013.
  36. James Madison Institute, 2011 Form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, September 14, 2012.
  37. James Madison Institute, 2010 form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, October 5, 2011.
  38. James Madison Institute, 2009 form 990, annual organizational IRS filing, November 15, 2010.
  39. James Madison Institute, Staff, organizational website, accessed October 2018
  40. James Madison Institute, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed October 2018.
  41. James Madison Institute, Research Advisory Council, organizational website, accessed August 2016.