The Buckeye Institute is actively working to bust unions. Find out who they really are.

The Buckeye Institute is an ultra-conservative front group in Columbus, Ohio founded in the late 1980’s. The Institute is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit, that claims to promote the values of limited and transparent government, an economically competitive environment, and personal responsibility. However their words and actions say otherwise…

“The Buckeye Institute is committed to asserting conservative ideals as loudly and aggressively as ever before.”  
– 2007 Buckeye Institute Chairman Rick Segal

Re-Introducing the Buckeye Institute

Is the Buckeye Institute an independent, non-partisan research institute that doesn’t take positions on legislation? Or is it a cog in a national right-wing corporate lobbying machine with deep ties to the GOP and ALEC that pushes for controversial legislation like the anti-collective bargaining law, SB 5, and the anti-union and anti-worker Right to Work proposal?

Member of the State Policy Network

The Buckeye Institute is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), which helps steer funding to Buckeye and other similar special interest groups across the country. SPN is a network of special interest groups located in states across the country that describe themselves as “think tanks,” and which push a common national agenda on many issues regardless of the traditions of a particular state; that agenda often advances the bottom-line of corporations and advance the very special interests of the CEOs that back SPN and its affiliates. The Center for Media and Democracy has reviewed the tax filings of each state group that is part of SPN, in addition to the Heartland Foundation, and has determined that more than $80 million a year flows to SPN and its members, much of it from corporations and right-wing billionaires, such as the Koch brothers.

A Pawn for ALEC

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, serves as a voice for corporate special interests in state legislatures across the country. Corporate executives, lawyers, or lobbyists who are ALEC members vote behind closed doors with ALEC legislators to approve “model” legislation designed to promote corporate interests. Then, ALEC legislators push for those ALEC bills to become law without any disclosure of the role corporations played in writing or pre-voting on the bills.

The Buckeye Institute and ALEC share the same right-wing agenda when it comes to issues such as attacking workers’ rights, privatizing public education, and opposing healthcare reform. There is a clear correlation in the timing and language of ALEC’s proposed policies and ones pushed by the Buckeye Institute. Several of the Buckeye Institute’s staff and board members, including President Robert Alt and former Chairman Greg Lashutka, have worked, or are currently working for, corporate and non-profit members of ALEC. Most of the Buckeye Institute’s known donors have also funded ALEC, including two of the Koch Brothers’ foundations.

Additionally, the Buckeye Institute often promotes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), its policies, and its reports on its website. According to the ProgressOhio/CMD report:[11]

  • “In May 2013, the Buckeye Institute promoted the release of ALEC’s ‘Rich States, Poor States’ report on its website.[13] That report has been the subject of devastating criticism for its methodology and the distorted way it tallies state’s economic health.[14]
  • “The Buckeye Institute cited four ALEC model bills as ‘promising policy approaches’ in its November 2010 report Smart on Crime.[15]
  • “The Buckeye Institute cited ALEC’s 2011 edition of ‘Rich States, Poor States’ in its May 2012 Policy Brief, ‘Big Government Spending Not Requisite for Economic Growth.’[16] Such claims have been subject to numerous criticisms.[17]
  • “Buckeye Institute policy analyst Greg Lawson spoke favorably about ALEC’s influence in Ohio, specifically in the Kasich administration. Lawson is quoted as saying: ‘Quite frankly, Ohio only started making the changes ALEC recommended in recent years… It’s a little premature to be making some of these judgments until the policies are fully implemented. We’re only now beginning to see the impact.'”[18]

Koch Brother Funded

The Buckeye Institute has received significant funding from the Koch-fueled Donors Capital Fund, although that fund obscures the true source of its grants. In 2008 and 2009, grants from Donors Capital made up 57 percent of Buckeye’s total grants received in those two years, and 19 percent in 2010. The Koch brothers have also given to the Buckeye Institute directly through their foundations, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. The Buckeye Institute has proposed policy measures that would change the tax code to favor those with the most wealth, opposed clean energy in Ohio, and called for less regulation over corporations, all which would directly benefit the Koch brothers and Koch Industries in Ohio. Among other connections, in 2010, Daniel Peters, a trustee at the Buckeye Institute, attended a Koch Industries meeting designed to “Address Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity.”

Here is a list of some of the Buckeye Foundation’s major foundational donors, many of which are allied with the Kochs, and also fund ALEC.

  • Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
  • Castle Rock Foundation
  • Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
  • JM Foundation
  • Jaquelin Hume Foundation
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
  • Roe Foundation
  • Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation
  • Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
  • William H. Donner Foundation