Reason Foundation

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The Reason Foundation, a self-described "libertarian"[1] think tank, is a right-wing 501(c)3 nonprofit and "associate" member of the State Policy Network (SPN).[2] Reason Foundation's projects include and, as well as Reason Magazine[3] It is part of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation network.

The Reason Foundation is funded, in part, by what are known as the Koch Family Foundations and David Koch serves as a Reason trustee.[4]

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.[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]

News and Controversies

Reason Foundation 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 Reason Foundation.[9] Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI), 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.”[9]

The Reason Foundation publishes Reason Magazine, a monthly print magazine with a libertarian point of view. Reason TV is another media project of the Reason Foundation.

Ties to the Koch Brothers

David Koch is listed as a trustee of the Foundation.[4] Between 1985 and 2015 Reason has received $857,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, $344,528 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation and $1,522,212 from the David H. Koch Foundation.

The Charles Koch Institute lists the Reason Foundation as a "partner organization" on its website.[10]

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 American Legislative Exchange Council

Dr. Adrian Moore, Vice President of Public Policy of the Reason Foundation, is an Advisor to the American Legislative Exchange Council's Commerce, Insurance & Economic Development Task Force.[11] Reason Foundation representatives have also advised ALEC Task Forces on issues such as state budgets[12], and health reform.[13]

The Reason Foundation's Director of Government Affairs, Mike Flynn, was previously policy director for ALEC.[14]

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.

Reason Foundation and Big Tobacco

Jacob Sullum is the senior editor of Reason,, a monthly magazine published by the Reason Foundation. Sullum's positions on tobacco issues have consistenly been supportive of the tobacco industry. The anti-tobacco Advocacy Institute, in their November, 1994 Directory of Tobacco Industry Spokespersons, Front Groups and their Allies, says,

The Reason Foundation received at least $10,000 from Philip Morris in 1993. He [Sullum] wrote an article for Forbes Media Critic which was later used in a week-long advertising series by Philip Morris; the report argued that the EPA findings on secondhand smoke were one-sided and represented the "corruption of science by the political crusade against smoking." He also wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal criticizing the EPA, claiming that the agency based its findings on ETS on "several controversial assumptions;" this op-ed was later featured in an RJR advertisement. Both of these articles cited the work of Dr.Gary Huber, a scientist funded by various tobacco companies, who had found the risks of ETS to be only minimal. The Media Critic article also cited the work of Alvan Feinstein, who received at least $700,000 from Brown &Williamson between 1985 and 1990. Sources:Extra, September/October 1994, p.18; Wall Street Journal,3- 24-94, Bates Page --4660]


Between 2009 and 2015, Reason Foundation has received $225,000 from the Bradley Foundation, $287,528 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation and a combined $2.3 million from DonorsTrust and Donors Capitol Fund, two donor advised funds with ties to the Kochs that obscure the identity of wealthy contributors. (See a full list of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund grant recipients here).

Between 1985 and 2009, the Reason Foundation received funding from the following sources, in the following amounts:[15]

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $10,473,482
  • Total Expenses: $9,760,275
  • Net Assets: $7,121,580


  • Total Revenue: $11,101,761
  • Total Expenses: $10,013,738
  • Net Assets: $6,448,773


  • Total Revenue: $9,066,823
  • Total Expenses: $8,952,656
  • Net Assets: $5,172,320


  • Total Revenue: $9,106,846
  • Total Expenses: $8,748,862
  • Net Assets: $4,878,000



As of June 12, 2017[4]

  • Thomas E. Beach, Beach Investment Counsel Inc
  • Baron Bond, Foundation Group, Timonium, MD
  • Drew Carey
  • Joan Carter, UM Holdings, Ltd.
  • Derwood S. Chase, Jr., , Chase Investment Counsel Corporation
  • Peter P. Copses
  • James R. Curley, Financial Consortium International, LLC
  • Richard. J. Dennis, C&D Commodities, Inc.
  • William Dunn, Chairman Emeritus, DUNN Capital Management
  • Dr. Peter Farrell, ResMed
  • David Fleming, Senior Advisor, California State Senate
  • Hon. C. Boyden Gray
  • James D. Jameson
  • Manuel S. Klausner, Law Offices of Manuel S. Klausner, PC
  • David H. Koch, Koch Industries
  • James Lintott, Sterling Foundation Management, LLC
  • Stephen Modzelewski, Chairman, Maple Engine, L.P.
  • David Nott, Reason Foundation
  • George F. Ohrstrom
  • Robert W. Poole, Jr., Reason Foundation
  • Carol Sanders
  • Richard A. Wallace
  • Kerry Welsh (retired), WelCom Products Inc.
  • Fred Young, Former Owner, Young Radiator Company
  • Frank Bond, Trustee Emeritus
  • Vernon L. Smith, Trustee Emeritus, Chapman University
  • Harry E. Teasley, Jr., Chairman Emeritus
  • Walter E. Williams, Trustee Emeritus, George Mason University


As of June 12, 2017[4]

  • Stephen Modzelewski, Chairman of the Board
  • Robert W. Poole, Jr. , Founder
  • David Nott , President
  • Jon Graff , Secretary and Treasurer
  • Mike Alissi , Vice President, Operations
  • Nick Gillespie , Vice President, Online
  • Adrian Moore , Vice President, Policy
  • Julian Morris, Vice President, Research
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward, Vice President, Magazine


Staff list available on the Reason Foundation's website here.


Employer Identification Number (EIN): 95-3298239

Reason Foundation
5737 Mesmer Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90230
Phone: (310).391.2245
Website: Website (magazine): Facebook:
Facebook (magazine):
Twitter: @reason

Reason Foundation
1747 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202).986.0916

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

External links


  1. Reason Foundation, Frequently Asked Questions About Reason: Is Reason libertarian?, organizational website, accessed August 2007.
  2. State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed June 12, 2017.
  3. Reason Foundation, August/September 2011, Reason Magazine, archived by the WayBack Machine on October 16, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Reason Foundation, Trustees and Officers, organizational website, accessed June 12, 2017.
  5. David Armiak, 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. 9.0 9.1 Sheldon Whitehouse, "Senators Call Out Web of Denial Blocking Action On Climate Change," Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, July 15, 2016.
  10. Charles Koch Institute, Partner Organizations, organizational website, accessed June 12, 2017.
  11. American Legislative Exchange Council Inside ALEC May 2011, organizational newsletter, May 2011, p. 17
  12. American Legislative Exchange Council, Tax & Fiscal Policy Task Force archives, organizational website, accessed July 10, 2011.
  13. American Legislative Exchange Council, HHS Task Force archives, organizational website, accessed July 10, 2011.
  14. Reason Foundation, Mike Flynn bio, organizational website, accessed July 10, 2011.
  15. Media Transparency, Reason Foundation funders, Media Matters, accessed July 10, 2011.
  16. Reason Foundation, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, February 10, 2016.
  17. Reason Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, February 10, 2015.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Reason Foundation, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, February 6, 2014.