Right Wing Groups Preach Against Government Aid, Take Millions in Bailout $$$

Nonprofits lobbying against state and local bailouts scored up to $5.4 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans; additional anti-government spending groups took millions more

NEW YORK, NY (07/14/2020) (readMedia)-- A new investigative analysis from the Center for Media and Democracy uncovered that at least five right-wing, free market organizations and two hate groups that have argued against federal aid for ailing states and cities-including the First Liberty Institute, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Leadership Institute, the Center for Security Policy, Liberty Counsel, Americans for Tax Reform, and Citizens Against Government Waste-received up to $5.4 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

While a majority of states across the country are facing enormous budget deficits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these groups would rather see state and local governments make devastating cuts to public programs such as education, health care, and pensions instead of getting a boost from Washington. In all, at least 15 groups that are funded by the right-wing, anti-tax Koch Foundation received PPP loans totaling as much as $10.5 million.

"It's a scandal that small and immigrant-owned businesses continue to struggle while big money corporatists gobble up the government support they claim impinges on the market. We need to break up corrupt corporate monopolies now and aggressively call out the front groups that prop them up," said Zephyr Teachout.

Teachout is a professor at Fordham University School of Law and a leading expert on anti-trust and the history of political corruption. The author of Corruption in America: from Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United in America, her second book, Break 'Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money, is coming next month.

"When it comes to public programs that improve people's health, education, and retirement, the right-wing austerity proponents want more and more cuts, even during a deadly pandemic," said Alex Kotch, investigative reporter at Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and author of the report. "But when the going gets tough for their own organizations, they're all too eager to apply for and accept taxpayer-funded bailouts. Our report challenges the flimsy ideology of small-government extremists, whose current hypocrisy should lead them to reevaluate their stances on what's best for the general public."

Read the full article here.

Highlights from the article include:

  • The Leadership Institute got between $1 million and $2 million, the First Liberty Institute received between $350,000 and $1 million, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute got between $150,000 and $350,000. All three groups signed a letter put together by an arm of the Council for National Policy (CNP) that argues many states have been fiscally irresponsible and says a federal bailout would "would reward the reckless states while punishing the prudent ones."
  • Despite the fact that Citizens Against Government Waste's website claims it does not get government funds, it received between $150,000 and $350,000 to retain 17 jobs. Thomas Schatz, its president, signed onto a letter coordinated by the corporate bill mill the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that said the idea of the federal government "bailing out" the states would be harmful to taxpayers, federalism, and ultimately the states themselves.
  • Americans for Tax Reform - an anti-tax group founded by Grover Norquist - received between $150,000 and $350,000. Norquist signed a June letter from Save Our Country, a right-wing coalition co-founded by Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks, that criticizes state and local bailouts as well as expanded unemployment benefits.
  • The Daily Caller News Foundation, the Institute for Energy Research, the Barry Goldwater Institute for Public Policy Research, and Taxpayers for Common Sense are all partially funded by billionaire libertarian Charles Koch and received millions in PPP loans.