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December 22nd, 2012

Iowa unions and politicians fund anti-business group

The Iowa Policy Project, a left-leaning think tank funded by Iowa taxpayers, has produced a smear of a study targeting the American Legislative Exchange Council, a coalition of legislators and businesses groups interested in promoting pro-growth policies at the state level.

The recent “study,” Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity,” claims ALEC’s free-market policies have harmed states, as a story in the Washington Free Beacon yesterday explains.

As reported by the Free Beacon and others, ALEC has been the target of a pressure campaign by liberal groups. ALEC members disputed the report’s methodology and conclusions.

“While statistical problems and cherry-picked data abound, the report fails to even meet the basic standards for intellectual honesty,” Indiana state Senator and ALEC member Jim Buck recently wrote, according to the Free Beacon. “The ultimate implication of the report is that states should avoid being like Texas, Utah, or Florida but instead should learn from the models of Illinois, California, and New York. Serious observers of state policy or even average taxpayers, will realize that these conclusions simply don’t pass the smell test.”

The Free Beacon report also explains how the Iowa Policy Project is funded:

Two former AFL-CIO officials sit on the Iowa Policy Project’s board of directors. The AFL-CIO blog also promoted the IPP’s ALEC report.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has funded the Iowa Policy Project to the tune of $22,000, according to Department of Labor records.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Iowa Policy Project’s studies often seem to report conclusions favorable to its funders.

The Iowa Federation of Labor and United Auto Workers also kicked the nonprofit group $17,000 for a study that argued in favor of raising the state’s minimum wage…

A 2011 Iowa Policy Project study concluded, “Iowa’s public employees are not over-compensated compared to their private-sector peers.”

The nonprofit also benefited from earmarks before the practice was banned in Congress. Liberal Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) earmarked $335,000 to the group in 2008 “[f]or a study on temporary and contingent workers.”

The Department of Labor gave the Iowa Policy Project $500,000 in 2003 for another research project…

Despite its union, foundation, and taxpayer funding, the Iowa Policy Project ran a budget deficit of more than $100,000 in 2011.

Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen described the Iowa Policy Project in 2005 as “a left-of-center think tank bankrolled by unions and liberal donors and run by former Democratic state Rep. David Osterberg and former Democratic legislative candidate Mike Owen.”

However, Owen called his group’s research “unquestionably and irrefutably nonpartisan.”

About the Author

Jeff Patch
Jeff Patch is a correspondent for He's a communications, research and political consultant for Iowa candidates, causes and companies. E-mail questions, comments, insults or story ideas to jeff [at]

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