FLORIDA CURRENT: ‘Liberal groups bemoan lobbying by conservative think tanks’

11/13/2013 on THEFLORIDACURRENT.com
By: GRAY ROHRER

A coalition of liberal groups are calling on conservative think tanks across the country — including Florida-based groups the James Madison Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability — to be more transparent, disclose their donors openly and fall under the same financial reporting as lobbyists.

Liberal advocacy groups Progress Florida and the Center for Media and Democracyreleased a report Wednesday detailing the affiliation of JMI and FGA with the State Policy Network, a nationwide network of think tanks connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group promoting pro-business legislation in statehouses across the country. The think tanks are part of a corporate agenda to push policies that erode workers’ rights, the report claims.

“These so-called ‘independent’ voices push ALEC’s right-wing agenda regardless of the best interests of Floridians while providing cover that helps insulate ALEC and SPN’s CEO backers against public scrutiny,” the report states.

JMI president Robert McClure admitted sharing ideas with think tanks in other states, but noted JMI was founded in 1987 — five years before SPN was created. He also firmly held onto the “non-partisan” label for JMI, despite the think tank’s myriad Republican connections — the chairman of its board is former GOP Florida House Speaker Allen Bense.

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