Resources For Studying Right-Wing Funding and Policy-Making


Recognize that the Right is a complex movement.

No one organization “controls” the Right. No single funder is “behind” the Right. Some large organizations are important, but many others appear to be more influential than they really are. Recognize that there are multiple networks of organizations and funders with differing and sometimes competing agendas. Find out as much as you can about the groups you see. Incorporate this information in your educational work.  It is helpful in organizing to know a great deal about your opponents.  Be alert to evidence of the Right’s “new racism.” The Right has replaced simple racist rhetoric with a more complex, “colorblind” political agenda which actually attacks the rights of people of color.

This advice is from the PRA flyer “Ground Rules & Tips for Challenging the Right.”

Table of Contents

Policy Resources
Political  Research Associates
Institute for Democracy Studies
National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Policy Resources - Bibliography
Jump to the Web Resources - Policy Page
Foundations and Funding
Media Transpareancy Website
Callahan Study
Foundations and Funding - Bibliography
Jump to the Web Resources - Funding Page
Other Articles & Studies

Useful Groups

Further Web Resources

Jump to the Web Resources - Policy Page
Jump to the Web Resources - Funding Page
Jump to the Web Resources - Power Structure Research Page
Jump to the Web Resources - Libraries Page


Policy Resources

Jump to the Web Resources - Policy Page

Material from Political Research Associates

Check the PRA website for other publications & resources.

Print Resources

Defending Reproductive Rights An Activist Resource Kit
Defending Public Education An Activist Resource Kit
Calculated Compassion Behind the Ex-Gay Movement is the Right's Attack on Democracy.
The Public Eye Magazine
On the Web
Studying the Right - A Scholarly Approach
Studying Right-wing Funding & Policy-Making
Foundations & Funding: Web Resources
Links to Conservative and Right-wing Groups
Directory of Right-wing Groups and their Allies
Web Research Resources
Topical Contents of PRA's Public Eye Website

Institute for Democracy Studies

Check IDS website for other publications.

"Slouching Towards Extremism: The Federalist Society and the Transformation of American Jurisprudence." $5.00 (includes shipping/handling.)

Federalist Society leaders have emerged as the top attorneys for George Bush in both the Florida Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States. With Federalist Society DC Chapter President Ted Olson as lead attorney before the Supreme Court, they are determined to win not just the Presidency, but to begin the process of institutionalizing a comprehensive agenda challenging every aspect of a democratic judicial system. The Global Assault on Reproductive Rights: A Crucial Turning Point. May 2000 (35 pages; includes a glossary) $15. This briefing paper profiles three leading international organizations that seek to roll back reproductive rights and health care provision for women. Human Life International, the Population Research Institute, and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute are examined, along with new developments in the global networking of the wider religious right, as exemplified by the Second World Congress of Families, held in Geneva in 1999. The Assault On Diversity: Behind the Challenges to Racial and Gender Remedies. December 1999 (22 pages) $10. This briefing paper profiles five organizations that are using affirmative action as a wedge issue in order to promote a broader, anti-diversity agenda. These organizations are: the American Civil Rights Institute, the Center for Equal Opportunity, the Center for Individual Rights, the Institute for Justice, and the Civil Rights Practice Group of the Federalist Society. The efforts of these groups threaten racial and gender justice and the broad consensus surrounding diversity in America.

Policy Resources from Other Groups

The Real Story Behind 'Paycheck Protection'
The Hidden Link Between Anti-Worker and Anti-Public Education Initiatives:  An Anatomy of the Far Right.  Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1998. Well-researched and extremely useful, this report is a welcome contribution from the labor movement—a sector long targeted and vilified by the Right. The sections “The State-based Assault” and “State Battlegrounds” are good companion pieces to understand, through the use of case studies, how the State Policy Network operates. Also valuable is the guide to State Policy Network Members which gives profiles of each organizational member in a state-by-state format. The precision of the report, however, is somewhat marred by the author’s tendency to use inflammatory rhetoric to describe the conservative movement. To obtain copies, contact:  NEA Communication, 1201 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 The Assault on Working Families, by the Public Policy Department of AFSCME. Washington, DC: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, 1998. In addition to the standard, albeit important, descriptions of  conservative policy organizations, this report has some practical appendices. Included are an analysis of state-based and regional research and policy analysis groups and samples of model state legislation that move the anti-labor, anti-working family, anti-government agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council. Phillip H. Burch,  Research in Political Economy, Reagan, Bush, and Right-Wing Politics: Elites, Think Tanks, Power and Policy, Greenwich, CT: Jai Press, 1997.
  •  Supplement 1, Part A, The American Right-Wing Takes Command: Key Executive Appointments
  •  Supplement 1, Part B: The American Right-Wing at Court and in Action: Supreme Court Nominations and Major Policy-Making
  • Burch, of Rutgers University, argues that the network Blumenthal called the Counter-Establishment gained power during the Reagan administration, and many of his key appointees, such as Edwin Meese, Caspar Weinberger, William Reinquist and Clarence Thomas, had ties to this network. The Counter-Establishment network included policy institutes such as The Heritage Foundation, conservative media such as The Wall Street Journal, and funders such as Olin, Scaife, and the Coors family.

    Additional Policy Bibliography

  • Jean Hardisty, Mobilizing Resentment: Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999).
  • Chip Berlet & Matthew N. Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. (New York: Guilford Press, 2000).
  • Chip Berlet, ed., Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, (Boston: South End Press, 1995).
  • Sara Diamond, Roads to Dominion: Right–Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, (New York: Guilford, 1995).
  • Jerome L. Himmelstein, To The Right: The Transformation of American Conservatism, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).
  • Amy Elizabeth Ansell, ed., Unraveling the Right: The New Conservatism in American Thought and Politics, (New York: Westview, 1998).
  • Amy Elizabeth Ansell. (1997). New Right, New Racism: Race and Reaction in the United States and Britain. (New York: NYU Press, 1997).
  • “The Right-Wing Information Network,” October 1996. Series of articles collected by Culture Watch, Data Center.
  • To Reclaim a Legacy of Diversity: Analyzing the ‘Political Correctness’ Debates in Higher Education, (Washington, DC: National Council for Research on Women, 1993).
  • Justice for Sale: Shortchanging the Public Interest for Private Gain, (Alliance for Justice, 1993).
  • Clarence Y. H. Lo and Michael Schwartz, eds., Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda, (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1998).
  • Steve Askin, A New Rite: Conservative Catholic Organizations and Their Allies, (Washington, D.C.: Catholics for Free Choice, 1994).
  • Uncovering the Right on Campus: A Guide to Resisting Conservative Attacks on Equality and Social Justice, (Cambridge, MA: Center for Campus Organizing, 1997).
  • Sidney Blumenthal, Rise of the Counter-Establishment, The: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power, (New York: Random House, 1986).
  • “The Right-Wing Media Machine,” special issue, Extra! (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), March/April 1995.
  • Dennis King, Get the Facts on Anyone. 3rd edition, (New York: Macmillan, 1999).


    Foundations & Funding

    Jump to the Web Resources - Funding Page

    Media Transparency Website -- The Money Behind the Media: A large searchable collection of grant data from 990 forms from right-wing foundations and their grantees on this site. Can be daunting at first, but worth the effort.

    Also see:

    Online excerpts from NCRP report: Moving a Public Policy Agenda

    National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)

    Check NCRP website for more materials

    These studies are the best quick introduction to the topic of Foundations and Funding.

    (See also: Web Resources)

    David Callahan, $1 Billion for Ideas: Conservative Think Tanks in the 1990s, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, March 1999.

    This report focuses on the top twenty conservative policy institutes of the 1990s. In addition to the well-known Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, Callahan examines seventeen less-known think tanks. The report includes sections on: how conservative think tanks have expanded their influence in the 1990s; how they operate both in terms of policy research, marketing and change at the state and local levels; how they are supported; and how they are structured internally. Of particular interest is Callahan’s analysis of the Right’s victories in 5 policy areas: welfare; Social Security and Medicare; deregulation and the environment; taxes; and education. Sally Covington, Moving A Public Policy Agenda:  The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations, Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, July 1997.
    Online excerpts at Media Transparency. Extensively researched and sharply analytical, this report documents the important role conservative foundations have played in building the infrastructure of the Right and influencing public policy at the national, state and local level. Covington analyzes 12 key foundation’s grant-making programs and the missions, activities, staff and boards of grantees. The report includes sections on types of institutions supported; strategic funding; how philanthropic resources have been mobilized; and the institutional, ideological and public policy impact of this conservative philanthropy. Special Report, Burgeoning Conservative Think Tanks, Washington, DC:  National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Spring 1991. Groundbreaking collection of articles that examines how the Right developed sophisticated and well-networked centers and think tanks.  Articles cover: the role the Madison Group plays in linking conservative think tanks; the efforts of the Right at the state legislature level;  how these think-tanks exalt the market as the best solution to most problems in society; an examination of the influence and strength of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); plus a look at a number of  individual conservative think tanks.

    Foundations and Funding: Important Overviews:

    (See also: publications from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and Web Resources)

    Ellen Messer-Davidow, “Manufacturing the Attack on Liberalized Higher Education,” Social Text, Fall 1993, 40-80. An important early discussion of the creation of the “political correctness” debate by a handful of right-wing think tanks and their ideological allies. Jean Stephancic and Richard Delgado, No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America’s Social Agenda, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996. Documents the Right’s formidable political machine which has shifted US policy by focusing its efforts on dovetailing sequences of issues; effectively training young conservatives, and its careful use of money, media, and “brains.” While their premise is that the polity benefits from an equal infusion of ideas from the left and right, their recommendation is that the left emulate the structure of the right’s policy juggernaut.

    Foundations and Funding: Additional Bibliography

  • Beth Schulman, "Foundations for a Movement: How the Right Wing Subsidizes its Press," Extra! (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), special issue on "The Right-Wing Media Machine," March/April 1995, p. 11.
  • David Callahan, "Liberal Policy's Weak Foundations: Fighting the 'Bull Curve,' " The Nation, November 13, 1995, pp. 568-572.
  • Lawrence C. Soley, Leasing the Ivory Tower: The Corporate Takeover of Academia, (Boston: South End Press, 1995).
  • Lawrence Soley, "Right-Think Inc.," City Pages, (Minneapolis, MN), 10/31/90, p. 10.
  • James A. Smith, The Idea Brokers: Think Tanks and the Rise of the New Policy Elite, (New York: The Free Press, 1991).
  • Buying a Movement: Right-Wing Foundations and American Politics. Report. (Washington, DC: People for the American Way, 1996).
  • Leon Howell, Funding the War of Ideas. Report. (Cleveland: OH: United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, 1995).
  • Mark Schapiro, Who’s Behind the Culture War?: Contemporary Assaults on Freedom of Expression. Report. (New York: Nathan Cummings Foundation, 1994).
  • David Callahan, $1 Billion for Ideas: Conservative Think Tanks in the 1990s. Report. Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, March 1999.
  • Sally Covington, Moving A Public Policy Agenda:  The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations. Report. Washington, DC: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, July 1997.
  • Burgeoning Conservative Think Tanks. Special report in newsletter. Washington, DC:  National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Spring 1991.
  • Academic Studies

  • Jean Stephancic and Richard Delgado, No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America’s Social Agenda, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.
  • Messer-Davidow, Ellen. (1993). “Manufacturing the Attack on Liberalized Higher Education.” Social Text, Fall, pp. 40–80.
  • Messer-Davidow, Ellen. (1994). “Who (Ac)Counts and How.” MMLA (The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association), vol. 27, no. 1, Spring, pp. 26–41.
  • Burch, Philip H., Jr. (1997). Reagan, Bush, and Right-Wing Politics: Elites, Think Tanks, Power, and Policy: Part A. The American Right Wing Takes Command: Key Executive Appointments. Supplement 1, Vol. 16, Research in Political Economy, Paul Zarembka (Ed.). Greenwich: CT: JAI Press.
  • Burch, Philip H., Jr. (1997). Reagan, Bush, and Right-Wing Politics: Elites, Think Tanks, Power, and Policy: Part B. The American Right Wing at Court and in Action: Supreme Court Nominations and Major Policymaking. Supplement 1, Vol. 16, Research in Political Economy, Paul Zarembka (Ed.). Greenwich: CT: JAI Press.
  • Other Articles and Studies

    The Mighty Wurlitzer
    What progressives can learn from David Brock's account of the conservative machine.
    By Robert Borosage
    The American Prospect, 5.6.02

    Losing Ground On The Left
    by Joanna Mareth
    Common Wealth: NonProfits, Philanthropy, and Civil Society
    The American Prospect/Economic Policy Institute

    The 'Right' Books and Big Ideas
    The Nation, November 22, 1999

    $1 Billion for Conservative Ideas
    The Nation, April 26, 1999

    Why Do Progressive Foundations Give Too Little To Too Many?
    By Michael H. Shuman
    The Nation, January 12, 1998

    Useful Groups 
    for understanding policymaking, funding, and foundations:

    Political Research Associates
    1310 Broadway, Suite 201, Somerville, MA 02144. 671/666-5300. fax: 617/666-6622
    Extensive eighteen-year file and publication archive on right-wing movements ranging from New Right to white supremacist groups. Publishes a newsletter, The Public Eye. Extensive publications list.

    Institute for Democracy Studies
    177 East 87th Street, Suite 501, New York, NY 10128. 212/423-9237. fax: 212/423-9352
    Timely topical reports.

    National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
    2001 S St., NW, Suite 620, Washington, DC 20009. 202-387-9177 (Voice), 202-332-5084 (Fax)
    The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has been at the forefront in tracking and analyzing the growth and influence of conservative public policy-making.  They have published three important reports.

    Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action
    155 Avenue of the Americas, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10013 212.633.1405 (Voice). 212.633.2015 (Fax)
    Demos is committed to a long-term effort to reframe and redesign policy and politics to meet the complex challenges of the 21st century. We seek to bring everyone into the life of American democracy and to achieve a broadly shared prosperity characterized by greater opportunity and less disparity.

    1904 Franklin Street, Suite 900, Oakland, CA 94612, 510/835-4692, fax: 510/835-3017
    Research by contract into a variety of topics with special expertise in corporations and current political issues. Large collection of clippings and specialized computer skills for searching electronic databases. Write for complete resource list.

    People for the American Way
    2000 M Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036, 202/467-4999, fax: 202/293-2672
    Has several reports and press releases on the rise of the Religious Right and homophobic campaigns. Resources include a newsletter, Right-Wing Watch and a videotape, The Religious Right, Then and Now. Extensive publications list.

    National Council for Research on Women
    11 Hanover Square, 20th floor, New York, NY 10005, 212/785-7335, fax: 212/785-7350
    An independent association of 79 primarily academic women's studies centers and organizations that provide resources for feminist research, policy analysis, and educational programs for women and girls. Publishes reports, directories, papers and two quarterly journals Women's Research Network News and Issues Quarterly.

    Policy Action Network
    Moving Ideas (formerly Electronic Policy Network)
    The American Prospect
    2000 L St. NW suite 717, Washington DC, 20036, Phone: (202) 776-0730, Fax: (202) 776-0740
    5 Broad St, Boston, MA 02109, Phone: (617) 570-8030, Fax: (617) 570-8028
    Dedicated to explaining and popularizing complex policy ideas to a broader audience. Our goal is to improve collaboration and dialogue between policy and grassroots organizations, and to promote their work to journalists and legislators.

    Economic Policy Institute (EPI)
    1660 L Street N.W., Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 20036, 202-775-8810, fax: 202-775-0819
    The mission of the Economic Policy Institute is to provide high-quality research and education in order to promote a prosperous, fair, and sustainable economy. The Institute stresses real world analysis and a concern for the living standards of working people, and it makes its findings accessible to the general public, the media, and policy makers.

    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP)
    820 1st Street, NE, #510, Washington, DC 20002, Ph: 202-408-1080, Fax: 202-408-1056
    Founded in 1981, the Center works on fiscal policy issues and issues affecting low- and moderate-income families and individuals.  The Center specializes in research and analysis oriented toward policy decisions that policymakers face at both federal and state levels. The Center examines data and research findings and produces analyses designed to be accessible to public officials, other non-profit organizations, and the media.

    National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
    2001 S Street, NW, Suite 620, Washington, DC 20009, (202) 387-9177 (Voice), (202) 332-5084 (Fax)
    The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting philanthropy that addresses the unmet needs of disadvantaged populations, including very low-income communities, people of color, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender populations, and other groups facing discrimination or marginalization. NCRP conducts action research, provides technical assistance to nonprofits, and engages in policy advocacy.  NCRP's reform activism targets foundations, corporations, individual donors, and workplace fund-raising.

    Catholics Choice
    1436 U Street, NW, Suite 301, Washington, DC 20009, 202/986-6093
    Policy analysis, education, and advocacy on issues of gender equality and reproductive health. Write for list of current publications in English & Spanish. Excellent book on the Catholic Right, with updates.

    Keeping an eye on the conservative internet media


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