Dark Money

The Pacific Research Institute (PRI) Donors – Or Should We Call ‘Em Owners?

LIT believes that non-profits – where the majority of revenue comes from only a handful of donors – is deceptive and demands full disclosure.

When You Need Lots of Legal Support to Achieve Your Mission, Fund a Boat-load of Non-Profits

MAY 25, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 26, 2021

There’s a whole boat-load of “charities” in America that rely on a small amount of donors with deep pockets and with mighty influence as a result of their bank balance(s). The question is, should non-profits be allowed to keep these donors ‘secret’? And, secondly, when these legal non-profits are filing amicus briefs, are they being honest when they say no-one donated towards the time and expense of preparing an expensive Supreme Court brief?

LIT believes that non-profits – where the majority of revenue comes from only a handful of donors – is deceptive enough to demand full disclosure.

Otherwise, it would be devastating to democracy (e.g. one-sided amicus arguments) and transparency when the non-profit is really ‘owned’ by the donor(s) and based purely on the level of funding the non-profit receives.

And as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has restated very recently, these Amici disclosures are very deceptive. The proposed bill/act should be enacted without further delay.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rob Bonta, Attorney General of California

1 All parties have consented to the filing of this brief.

No counsel for a party authored it in whole or in part, nor did any person or entity, other than Amici and their counsel, make a monetary contribution to fund its preparation or submission.

Amici are not publicly traded and have no parent corporations.

No publicly traded corporation owns 10% or more of either Amici.

Pacific Research Institute (PRI)


The Pacific Research Institute (PRI), known as the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (PRIPP) until 1984, is a conservative think tank founded in 1979 with the mission to

“champion freedom, opportunity, and personal responsibility for all individuals by advancing free-market policy solutions.”

According to their website, PRI “promotes 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.”

Steven F. Hayward is the Pacific Research Institute’s senior fellow in environmental studies, and also works with the American Enterprise Institute which maintains a close relationship with PRI.

Both the Pacific Research Institute and the American Enterprise Institute has received significant funding from Koch Industries and Scaife foundations. Hayward is the author of PRI‘s Almanac of Environmental Trends which they publish every third year on Earth Day.

According to the print version of the PRI Report, the chief drivers of environmental improvement are economic growth, constantly increasing resource efficiency, technological innovation in pollution control, and “the deepening of environmental values among the American public.”

It paints a less favorable picture for government policy, which Hayward describes as a “a lagging indicator, often achieving results at needlessly high cost, and sometimes failing completely.”

PRI has received

Over $1.7 million in donations from Koch-related foundations,

$4,472,000 from Scaife foundations,

and $615,000 from the oil company ExxonMobil.

The Pacific Research Institute also received nearly $1 million from DonorsTrust


More than $1 million from Donors Capital Fund, two groups that have been described as the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement.

2018 Financials

Total Revenue: $5,240,992
Total Expenses: $3,657,441
Net Assets: $14,662,398

Koch Funding

Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN).

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.

In SourceWatch, they highlight articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David, which include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.

Donors Trust & Donors Capital Fund Funding

As reported by Conservative Transparency, the Pacific Research Institute has received over $2 million from DonorsTrust (DT) and Donors Capital Fund (DCF) combined.

Mother Jones magazine has described Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust as the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement. Together, DT and DCF act as a conduit for conservative funding, including millions of dollars from Koch sources.

Their “Donor Advised Funds” allow conservative groups and individuals to donate large sums of money while keeping their identity a secret.

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The Pacific Research Institute (PRI) Donors – Or Should We Call ‘Em Owners?
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