Pacific Research Institute

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The Pacific Research Institute (PRI), officially the "Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy," is a think tank founded in 1979 whose stated vision is the promotion of "the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility. The Institute believes these principles are best encouraged through policies that emphasize a free economy, private initiative, and limited government." The institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, and had $4.8 million in revenue in 2012.[1] The Pacific Research Institute has associated with other think-tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, including filing joint briefs in major legal cases.

News and Controversies

PRI 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 Pacific Research Institute.[2] 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.”[2]

According to DeSmog, a figure suggesting that electric vehicles tax-credits are regressive, that “disproportionately subsidizes wealthy buyers,""has been repeated ad nauseum is typically attributed to a report by Wayne Winegarden of the Pacific Research Institute." The figure has been used in numerous articles which are in opposition to actions combatting climate change. The coverage brought DeSmog to the conclusion that "clearly, the Koch network’s investments in the Pacific Research Institute are paying off."[3]

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

Through 2016 the Pacific Research Institute received $1,376,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Bradley detailed the most recent grants in internal documents examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Below is a description of the grant prepared by CMD. The quoted text was written by Bradley staff.

2016: (Recommended) $75,000 to support the Center for Health Care and the work of a senior fellow. The fellow is Wayne Winegarden, a senior fellow in business and economics. The Center, led by Sally Pipes, is expected to continue its “fight” against the Affordable Care Act. Bradley calls PRI and CHC, along with [[[Benjamin Rush Institute]]] and Galen, “one of the most influential and effective voices in the fight against the burgeoning government monopoly over health care in the country.”

2015: $75,000, $50,000 to support the California Pension Reform Project and $25,000 to support the Health Care Communications Strategy.

2014: $25,000 to support its Center for Health Care (CHC) in its public education efforts. Pipes focused on the following aspects of the ACA in 2014:

  • The 2.3% medical device tax
  • The health insurance tax
  • The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)
  • The 3.8% tax on unearned income
  • The excise tax on drug companies

Pipes also prepared amicus briefs in many pending lawsuits.

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

PRI's Director of Health Care Studies, John R. Graham, spoke at a Workshop at the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Meeting. The Workshop was titled, "Rationing By Any Other Name: Medicare's Independent Payment Advisory Board." According to his biography on the PRI webpage, he is also a "Senior Fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis, Adjunct Scholar of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and member of the Board of Visitors of the Benjamin Rush Society of medical students and physicians."[4] ALEC, Pacific Research Institute, the National Center for Policy Analysis, and the Macinac Center are all members of the State Policy Network, which was one of the sponsors of 2011 ALEC Annual meeting.[5][6]

The Pacific Research Institute also has ties to several ALEC "task forces," including the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force, the Health and Human Services Task Force, the Education Task Force, and the Civil Justice Task Force.

John Clemens, former research director, is listed as private sector member of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force representing PRI at the 2010 Spring Task Force Summit and John Graham was listed as a speaker/advisor at that same meeting.[7] Graham gave a report titled, “What ObamaCare Means for State Budgets.”

John Graham has also represented PRI on the Health and Human Services Task Force. He gave a presentation on his book Medical Tort: Ranking in the 50 States to the task force at the 2010 Annual Meeting.[8]

Vicki Murray, former Education Studies Senior Policy Fellow, is a member of the Education Task Force. At the ALEC 2010 States and Nation Policy Summit she presented “10 Questions State Legislators Should Ask About Higher Education.” [9]

Lawrence McQuillan, Director of Business and Economic Studies, has participated in the Civil Justice Task Force. He was part of a presentation on ranking state tort systems, the “2010 Tort Liability Index,” during the 2010 Annual Meeting.[10]

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, and check out breaking news on our site.

Ties to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

The Pacific Research 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.[11] The Franklin Center funds reporters in over 40 states.[12] Despite their non-partisan description, many of the websites funded by the Franklin Center have received criticism for their conservative bias.[13][14] On its website, the Franklin Center claims it "provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide."[15]

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).[16] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement" in a February 2013 article.[17] Franklin received DonorTrust's second-largest donation in 2011.[16]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[18] a conservative grant-making organization.[19]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[20] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[21] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[22] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[23] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

PRI and the tobacco industry

In February 1987 Philip Morris executive Roy E. Marden sent a memo to other PM staff following a discussion with the then PRI President Chip Mellor "concerning their project on advertising and the market process." Marden noted the project was partially funded by Philip Morris."[24]

In 1998 Philip Morris was canvassing possible organizations that might be an ally in its Youth Smoking Prevention programs. A memo from Roy Marden described the Pacific Research Institute as "I am vice chairman of this SF policy group. They have recently begun an effort on child development/reduction of welfare dependency/etc., & I could explore with them if/where YSP could be involved. We are long-time donors."[25]

PRI and Healthcare

PRI head Sally Pipes, a Canadian residing in the United States, frequently speaks and writes against universal health care. Her bio lists as healthcare topics she had addressed "the false promise of a single-payer system as exists in Canada, pharmaceutical pricing, solving the problem of the uninsured, and strategies for consumer-driven health care." She also authored a 2004 book titled Miracle Cure: How to Solve America’s Health Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn’t the Answer. [1]

On the FOX News show "The O'Reilly Factor" on January 10, 2007, Pipes spoke against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to provide all state residents with healthcare. She warned that, "[I]f we provide health insurance, just like we provide welfare and education for illegal aliens, think about people that are illegal in other states. We're going to get a huge influx of illegal immigrants into California. And that's going to make it even more expensive [than the current system]." [2]

On December 26, 2011 Pipes posted the article "Doctors Say Obamacare is No Remedy for US Health Woes," to Forbes. In the article Pipes claims that nearly two-thirds of doctors expect the quality of care in this country to decline. Pipes cites the a recent survey done by the consulting giant Deloitte as evidence to her claims, but does not include the survey in her article. [26] Forbes contributor Rick Ungar responded to Pipes with the article "Koch Brothers Financed 'Research' Institute Steps Up Misleading Obamacare Attacks," in which Unger finds that Pipes incorrectly analyzed the survey results. [27]

PRI and Water Policy

PRI is based out of California, and has been involved in the water policy debate in that state. A publication released by PRI in December of 2008 suggested that the "problem for California is not lack of [water] supply but uneven distribution." PRI criticized California's current plan for facilitating distribution, which was based on state funded water projects. Instead, PRI suggested that distribution would be more properly managed through water markets, with consumers paying for water as any other consumable good. [28]

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

Areas of Work

PRI lists the following as their research areas:[29]

  • Healthcare - Articles include: "Small Business Owners Are Foolishly Supporting ‘Medicare For All’", and "Medicare For All Means Medicare For None". Other topics include prescription drug pricing, telemedicine, and gene therapies.
  • Business and Economics - Articles include "NEW ISSUE BRIEF: Damon Dunn Shares Stories From His Rise From Poverty, Makes The Case For Why Socialism Doesn’t Work", "Workers’ Freedom At Risk In California", "This Labor Day, Celebrate America’s Job Creators As Well As Our Workforce", "Democratic Socialism Will Take Away Job Opportunities For Many" and "Other Factors, Not Socialism, Triggers Northern Europe’s Success."
  • Education – Articles include: "Charter Schools Don’t Fiscally Distress Regular Public Schools", "Post-Janus, How Unions Keep Teachers Trapped", and "#Charterswork School : Profile Clayton Valley Charter High School."
  • California - Articles include: "New PRI Study: Free-Market Reforms, Private Charities Key To Addressing San Francisco’s Growing Homeless Crisis", and "California Needs To Go Nuclear – Again"
  • Environment – Articles include: "CAPITAL IDEAS: Cracking Down On Fracking In California— Is It The Smart Thing To Do?" "The Rush To Renewable Energy Defies Science, Economics, And Common Sense" and "Giving Rural California A Bigger Voice."

As of Sept. 2019, PRI no longer has a Technology research area listed.

PRI said these were their accomplishments in 2006:

  • Reached an audience of more than 475 million through print and online outlets throughout the year
  • On average, more than 100 articles citing PRI’s research published each month, 1,254 in total
  • Articles placed in all of the top 10 daily newspapers in the nation and in all papers nationwide, including USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.
  • Website page visits totaled over half a million, with 1.3 million pages viewed
  • Reached more than 40 million through radio and television nationwide

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $4,716,157
  • Total Expenses: $6,339,545
  • Net Assets: $13,323,098


  • Total Revenue: $4,937,746
  • Total Expenses: $3,551,430
  • Net Assets: $14,736,182


  • Total Revenue: $5,195,278
  • Total Expenses: $3,120,463
  • Net Assets: $13,296,894


  • Total Revenue: $6,840,418
  • Total Expenses: $3,586,064
  • Net Assets: $3,263,975


  • Total Revenue: $6,681,127
  • Total Expenses: $3,276,929
  • Net Assets: $7,968,020


  • Total Revenue: $4,727,196
  • Total Expenses: $3,609,998
  • Net Assets: $4,568,937


  • Total Revenue: $4,706,288
  • Total Expenses: $4,904,662
  • Net Assets: $3,450,596


  • Total Revenue: $3,923,123
  • Total Expenses: $5,257,310
  • Net Assets: $3,601,719


  • Total Revenue: $4,707,728
  • Total Expenses: $4,962,507
  • Net Assets: $4,834,041


In its 2009 annual report, PRI stated that its budget of $4.8 million was sourced mainly from foundations (54%), individual donations (28%), and corporate donations (22%).[38]

According to data collected by Media Matters' Conservative Transparency Project, PRI obtained 380 grants totaling $17,862,459 (unadjusted for inflation) from foundations between 1985 and 2012. The top ten overall contributors to PRI were:[39]

PRI also received grants totalling $615,000 from Exxon Mobil between 2001 and 2009.

Funding From Koch-Tied Sources

PRI has received grants directly from the Koch family foundations, as well as significant amounts of funding from the Koch conduits DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. The David H. Koch Foundation gave PRI $400,800 between 1986 and 2001, the Charles G. Koch Foundation gave $377,000 between 1986 and 2011, and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation gave $905,000 between 1992 and 2012.

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 DonorsTrust, a Koch Conduit

PRI was given $1,210,001 by the Donors Capital Fund between 2007 and 2012, and $579,000 by DonorsTrust between 2002 and 2014.

DonorsTrust is considered a "donor-advised fund," which means that it divides its funds into separate accounts for individual donors, who then recommend disbursements from the accounts to different non-profits. Funds like DonorsTrust are not uncommon in the non-profit sector, but they do cloak the identity of the original donors because the funds are typically distributed in the name of DonorsTrust rather than the original donors.[40] Very little was known about DonorsTrust until late 2012 and early 2013, when the Guardian and others published extensive reports on what Mother Jones called "the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement."[41][42]

A report by the Center for Public Integrity exposes a number of DonorsTrust funders, many of which have ties to the Koch brothers. One of the most prominent funders is the Knowledge and Progress Fund, a Charles Koch-run organization and one of the group's largest known contributors, having donated at least $8 million since 2005. Other contributors known to have donated at least $1 million to DonorsTrust include the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, Donald & Paula Smith Family Foundation, Searle Freedom Trust, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation.[43]



The conservative Capital Research Center (CRC) Spotlight project provides some additional, though a little dated, information on PRI's major funders. CRC lists the Lilly Endowment as having contributed $175,000 annually between 1999 and 2002 (inclusive). [3]



As of September 2019:[44]

  • Sally C. Pipes, President and CEO; Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy
  • Rowena Itchon, Senior Vice President
  • Tim Anaya, Director of Communications
  • Lance T. Izumi, Senior Director, Education Studies; former Koret Senior Fellow in Education Studies
  • Ben Smithwick, Vice President of Development
  • Makaila Warga, Development and Events Manager
  • Evan Harris, Media Relations and Outreach Manager

Former Staff

  • Sally Stegeman, Vice President
  • Vickie Nelson, Director of Events
  • Dana Beigel, Art Director
  • Barbara Hetherington, Administration
  • Mary Long, Bookkeeper
  • Stephanie Watson, Development and Events Coordinator
  • Laura Dannerbeck, Director of Events and Marketing
  • Daniel R. Ballon, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Technology Studies
  • Christine Hughes, Vice President
  • John Seller, Managing Editor
  • William H. Mellor, President

Board of Directors

As of Sept. 2019:[45]

Former Board Members

  • Larry C. Boyd, Executive Vice President, Secretary & General Counsel, Ingram Micro Inc.
  • Hon. Christopher Cox, Partner, Bingham McCutcheon
  • F. Christian Wignall, former Vice Chairman, Capstan, LLC
  • Katherine E. Boyd, Interior Designer
  • James B. Hawkins, President & CEO, Natus Medical, Inc.
  • Christine Hughes
  • Nersi Nazari, Pacific General Ventures, The Hasbun Nazari Charitable Trust
  • Daniel Oliver, Chairman Emeritus
  • Jean R. Wente, Wente Vineyards
  • Robert J. Ernst, III, Attorney at Law
  • James T. Farrell, Managing Director, Calera Capital, LLC
  • George M. Savage, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Proteus Biomedical, Inc.
  • Ted Ullyot, Attorney at Law

Emeritus Board Members

Contact Information

Pacific Research Institute
101 Montgomery Street, Suite 1300
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: 415-989-0833
Fax: 415-989-2411

Articles and Resources

Case Studies

Related SourceWatch Articles

Related PRWatch Articles

External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 2012 Form 990], organizational IRS filing, August 2, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sheldon Whitehouse, "Senators Call Out Web of Denial Blocking Action On Climate Change," Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, July 15, 2016.
  3. Ben Jervey [How the Koch Network's ‘Social Change' Strategy Is Built to Kill the Electric Car] DeSmog Blog, Sept 19, 2019
  4. John R. Graham Pacific Research Institute. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
  5. [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors and Workshops, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]
  6. Directory, State Policy Network. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
  7. American Legislative Exchange Council, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force meeting agenda and materials, July 1, 2010, on file with CMD
  8. American Legislative Exchange Council, Health and Human Services Task Force meeting agenda and materials, October 27, 2010, on file with CMD
  9. American Legislative Exchange Council, Education Task Force meeting agenda and materials, March 31, 2011, on file with CMD
  10. American Legislative Exchange Council, Civil Justice Task Force meeting agenda and materials, July 1, 2010, on file with CMD
  11. Franklin Center, Franklin Affiliates in Your State, organizational website, accessed October 2012.
  12. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Think tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Journalism, organizational website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  13. Rebekah Metzler, "Watchdog" website puts a new spin on politics, The Portland Press Herald, October 2, 2010.
  14. Allison Kilkenny, The Koch Spider Web, Truthout, accessed August 19, 2011.
  15. Sara Jerving, Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source,, October 27, 2011.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, organizational report, February 14, 2013.
  17. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, Mother Jones, February 5, 2013.
  18. Daniel Bice, Franklin Center boss wants apology from Democratic staffer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 8, 2011.
  19. The Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation. Organizational website. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  20. Sam Adams Alliance. Sam Adams Alliance Media Kit. Organizational PDF. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  21. Media Matters Action Network. Sam Adams Alliance. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  22. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  23. Media Matters Action Network. Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Conservative Transparency. Accessed August 19, 2011.
  24. R.E. Marden, Philip Morris Pacific Research Institute/Advertising Project Memorandum. 1 pp. February 26, 1987. Philip Morris Bates No.2023646840
  25. Roy Marden YSP ally possibilities Email to Tina Walls. October 22, 1998. Bates No. 2069615360
  26. Sally Pipes Doctors Say Obamacare is No Remedy for US Health Woes, Forbes, December 26, 2011
  27. Rick Ungar Koch Brothers Financed Research Institute Steps Up Obamacare Attacks, Forbes, December 27, 2011
  28. "Why Water Markets Should be Part of the Vision for the Delta and all of California" Pacific Research Institute Publication, December 2008.
  29. Research Areas, organizational website, accessed September 2019.
  30. Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 2017 Form 990], organizational IRS filing, July 23, 2018
  31. Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, [paper copy 2016 Form 990]], organizational IRS filing, October 27, 2016.
  32. Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, [paper copy 2015 Form 990]], organizational IRS filing, October 27, 2016.
  33. Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 2014 Form 990], organizational IRS filing, November 16, 2015.
  34. Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 2013 Form 990], organizational IRS filing, July 3, 2014.
  35. Pacific Research Institute, 2011 Form 990, organization's IRS filing, October 18, 2012.
  36. Pacific Research Institute, IRS form 990, 2010. GuideStar.
  37. Pacific Research Institute, IRS form 990, 2009. GuideStar.
  38. Pacific Research Institute, Annual Report, 2009, organizational report, accessed July 9, 2014.
  39. Media Matters, Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, grant recipient report, accessed July 9, 2014.
  40. Rebekah Wilce, A Reporters' Guide to the "State Policy Network" -- the Right-Wing Think Tanks Spinning Disinformation and Pushing the ALEC Agenda in the States,, April 4, 2013.
  41. Andy Kroll, Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement, "Mother Jones", February 5, 2013, accessed June 2014.
  42. Suzanne Goldenberg, Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks, The Guardian, February 14, 2013, accessed June 2014.
  43. Paul Abowd, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, The Center for Public Integrity, February 14, 2013, accessed July 1, 2014
  44. Pacific Research Institute, "Staff," organizational website, accessed September 2017.
  45. Pacific Research Institute, 2018 990, organizational website, accessed September 2019.

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