Non-profit

Independence Institute

This is a logo owned by Independence Institute for infobox. (link)
Website:

i2i.org

Location:

DENVER, CO

Tax ID:

84-0990300

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $2,230,351
Expenses: $2,782,204
Assets: $4,151,381

Formation:

1985

Type:

Non-profit

President:

Jon Caldera

President's Salary:

$131,857[38]

Not to be confused with the Independent Institute, a California-based center-right think tank.

The Independence Institute (II) is a non-partisan public policy think tank that promotes free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty. II’s policy centers produce research and analysis supporting a free market, pro-freedom agenda in the areas of education, energy, healthcare, fiscal policy, the right to keep and bear arms, and constitutional studies. [1]

The Independence Institute is an affiliate member of the State Policy Network, a coalition of free-market state-level policy organizations. [2]

Activity

The Independence Institute (II) is a non-partisan public policy think tank that promotes free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty. II’s policy centers produce research and analysis supporting a free-market, pro-individual-liberty agenda and use litigation, coalition building, and ballot initiatives in order to push for change in law and policy. [3] Areas of research include education, energy, healthcare, fiscal policy, the right to arms, and constitutional studies. [4]

The Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center advocates for school choice, educational savings accounts, and teachers’ rights. [5] II hosts several education centered websites, including School Choice For Kids, Ed is Watching, and Independent Teachers, providing information on school choice, education policy, and non-union employee organization options for teachers, respectively. [6] In 2020, II joined other organizations supporting education freedom, including the Liberty Justice Center, the Alaska Policy Forum, and the Nevada Policy Research Institute, in an amicus brief that challenges the legality of closing K-12 schools in Wisconsin, while daycare and colleges can remain open during the outbreak of pandemic COVID-19. [7]

II promotes the FASTER (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) training on its website. FASTER is a non-profit organization that trains teachers and school administrators “to stop school violence quickly” and provide medical aid. While FASTER does not explicitly call itself a firearms training program, a Colorado Concealed Handgun Permit is required to participate. [8] II staff member Laura Carno is the executive director of FASTER. [9]

II’s Energy and Environmental Policy Center (E2P) advocates for a free-market energy economy where individuals are free to choose their own resources for energy, with limited government regulations. II claims that a free-market energy economy will stimulate innovation in developing domestic energy while maintaining a clean environment. [10] In 2017, II was criticized for its “Earth Day Fossil Fuels Art Contest” encouraging entries that illustrated “the awesomeness of fossil fuels.” [11]

II’s Health Care Policy Center focuses on public policy that supports consumer choice in health care and fights against government-directed health care expansion. [12] In 2012, II filed two briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. [13]

Dave Kopel leads II’s Second Amendment Project, which studies legal precedents and provides a “Constitutional perspective” on gun rights. [14] In 2013, II supported a lawsuit against then-Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO) after new gun control bills were signed into law. [15]

II’s Fiscal Policy Center uses its research to promote policies supporting free market and limited government principles. [16] II supports Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) Amendment, passed in 1992, which gives voters the choice to approve or reject tax increases. II claims, however, that the Colorado Supreme Court has “never treated [TABOR] fairly,” as it continually creates anti-TABOR precedent and often allows for taxes to be collected by calling them “fees.” [17]

The Fiscal Policy Center argues against policy that raises Colorado’s minimum wage and presents research showing that wage increases have already hurt low-wage workers, claiming that workers’ hours have been cut as a direct result of these increases. [18]

II’s Constitutional Studies Center claims its research and Constitutional scholarship, published as books, articles, and legal briefs, has “enormous influence” on constitutional law cases, policy makers, and activism. [19] II supports the electoral college to elect U.S. presidents and claims that the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPIV) is unconstitutional. [20] Despite II’s arguments against NPIV, in 2020 Colorado voters supported Proposition 113, which will give the state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote, contingent on enough other states joining NPIV. [21]

Funding

The Independence Institute is funded by donations from individuals, businesses, and other organizations. Notable donors include NRA Foundation, which donated between 2013 and 2018;[22] the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which donated between 2004 and 2018;[23] and The Adolph Coors Foundation, which donated between 2009 and 2018. [24] II has also received donations from the State Policy Network, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

People

Jon Caldara serves as president of the Independence Institute. Caldara formerly served on the board of the Regional Transportation District. [25] In 2005, Caldara received the Thomas Roe Award from the State Policy Network. [26]

Pamela Benigno serves as the director of II’s Education Policy Center. Benigno formerly served on the implementation committee of the Colorado State Board of Education’s school voucher program and on the Douglas County School Choice Task Force. [27]

Laura Carno is the executive director of FASTER Colorado. [28]

Linda Gorman directs of II’s Health Care Policy Center and as a member of the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care. [29]

Dave Kopel is the research director of II and as an associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute. Kopel formerly served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Colorado. [30]

Shayne Madsen works as the director of II’s Political Law Center and as local counsel for the Institute for Justice. [31]

Ben Murrey is the director of fiscal policy at II. Murrey formerly served as a Senate staffer and a legislative aide for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). [32]

Randal O’Toole works as the director of the transportation policy center at II and as a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. [33]

Dennis Polhill is senior fellow in public infrastructure at II and as chair of the Colorado Term Limits Coalition. Polhill formerly served as a delegate to the Governor’s Statehouse Conference on Small Business and helped create the Colorado Coalition for Fair Competition. [34]

Paul Prentice serves as a senior fellow in II’s Fiscal Policy Center. Prentice formerly served as chief macroeconomist at the Department of Agriculture under President Ronald Reagan, visiting scholar at the Department of Treasury, and as a member of the board of the Limited Government Forum. [35]

Amy Oliver Cooke formerly worked as executive vice president of II and director of its Energy and Environmental Policy Center. Cooke is the CEO of the John Locke Foundation, the founder of Coalition of Ratepayers, and sits on the national advisory board of the Steamboat Institute. Cooke served on President Donald Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency and is a former senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum. [36]

Board of Trustees

Dick Wadhams is a Republican political consultant and the former chair of the Colorado Republican Party. [37]

The rest of the board is comprised of Catherine Shopneck, Chair, Katherine Whitcomb, Vice Chair, Debbie Donner, Mike McCarty, and Joseph Smith.

References

  1. “Issues.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/issues/. ^
  2. “The Network: Colorado.” State Policy Network, 2020. Accessed November 21, 2020. https://spn.org/directory/#CO. ^
  3. “About II.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/. ^
  4. “Issues.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/issues/. ^
  5. “Education.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/education/. ^
  6. “Education Websites.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/education/education-policy-center-websites/. ^
  7. Kopel, David. “Independence Institute Fights Wisconsin School Closing Orders.” Independence Institute, November 23, 2020. Accessed November 29, 2020. https://i2i.org/independence-institute-fights-wisconsin-school-closing-orders/. ^
  8. “FASTER Colorado – Armed Teacher Training.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/faster-training/. ^
  9. “Laura Carno.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/laura-carno/. ^
  10. “Energy & Environmental Policy.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/energy/. ^
  11. Natter, Ari. “Earth Day Art Contest Showcases ‘Awesomeness’ of Fossil Fuels.” Bloomberg News, April 13, 2017. Accessed November 29, 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-13/earth-day-art-contest-showcases-awesomeness-of-fossil-fuels. ^
  12. “Heath Care.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/health-care/. ^
  13. Tomasic, John. “Independence Institute on Obamacare: It’s not about the Commerce Clause.” The Colorado Independent, March 26, 2012. Accessed November 29, 2020. https://www.coloradoindependent.com/2012/03/26/independence-institute-on-obamacare-its-not-about-the-commerce-clause/. ^
  14. “Internship Program.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/join-us/internship/. ^
  15. “Legal Challenge Already Planned To Gun Control Laws.” CBS Denver, March 20, 2013. Accessed November 29, 2020. https://denver.cbslocal.com/2013/03/20/legal-challenge-already-planned-to-gun-control-laws/. ^
  16. “Fiscal.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/fiscal/. ^
  17. Natelson, Rob. “Colorado Supreme Court rules against TABOR—Again!” Independence Institute, October 3, 2019. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/colorado-supreme-court-rules-against-tabor-again/. ^
  18. Hansen, Connor. “Hiking the minimum wage hurts low-wage workers.” Independence Institute, December 2, 2017. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/hiking-minimum-age-hike-hurts-low-wage-workers/. ^
  19. “Constitutional Studies.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/constitution/page/4/. ^
  20. Natelson, Rob. “Why the “National Popular Vote” scheme is unconstitutional.” Independence Institute, February 4, 2019. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/why-the-national-public-vote-scheme-is-unconstitutional/. ^
  21. Millhiser, Ian. “Colorado voters approve compact seeking to neutralize the Electoral College.” Vox Media, November 4, 2020. Accessed November 29, 2020. https://www.vox.com/2020/11/4/21530891/colorado-proposition-113-national-popular-vote-compact-results. ^
  22. NRA Foundation Inc, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2013-2018, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  23. Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2004-2018, Part XV, Line 3. ^
  24. Adolph Coors Foundation, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2009-2018, Part XV, Line 3. ^
  25. “Jon Caldara.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/jon_caldara/. ^
  26. “Thomas A. Roe Award.” State Policy Network, 2020. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://spn.org/roe-award/. ^
  27. “Pamela Benigno.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/pamela_benigno/. ^
  28. “Laura Carno.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/laura-carno/. ^
  29. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/linda-gorman/ ^
  30. “Dave Kopel.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/dave-kopel/. ^
  31. “Shayne Madsen.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/shayne-madsen/. ^
  32. “Ben Murrey.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/ben-murrey/. ^
  33. “Randal O’Toole.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/randal-otoole/. ^
  34. “Dennis Polhill.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/dennis-polhill/. ^
  35. “Paul Prentice.” Independence Institute. Accessed November 25, 2020. https://i2i.org/about/our-people/paul-prentice/. ^
  36. “Amy O. Cooke.” John Locke Foundation, 2020. Accessed November 29, 2020. https://www.johnlocke.org/person/amy-o-cooke/. ^
  37. Bunch, Joey. “Dick Wadhams, Hank Brown side with striking down the Gallagher Amendment.” Colorado Politics, September 21, 2020. Accessed November 29, 2020. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/2020-election/dick-wadhams-hank-brown-side-with-striking-down-the-gallagher-amendment/article_02c94e4e-fb87-11ea-b3ce-5b939f9ce4c4.html. ^
  38. Independence Institute, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2018, Part VII, Section A, Line 1a. ^

Coalition Memberships

  1. State Policy Network (SPN)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1985

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $2,230,351 $2,782,204 $4,151,381 $90,815 Y $2,027,243 $0 $120,781 $160,000 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,660,315 $1,293,943 $4,700,785 $86,594 Y $1,603,464 $0 $34,798 $138,954 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $2,128,106 $2,907,995 $4,352,148 $108,732 Y $2,075,297 $0 $17,890 $160,000 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $2,716,740 $2,621,981 $5,147,253 $122,265 Y $2,678,433 $0 $48,253 $132,742 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $2,906,044 $2,995,352 $5,009,299 $81,646 Y $2,759,507 $0 $143,639 $137,000 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $2,570,000 $2,255,566 $5,091,330 $74,369 N $2,568,833 $0 $15,922 $108,710 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $1,718,687 $1,845,951 $4,790,818 $88,291 N $1,698,235 $0 $16,632 $124,417 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $1,965,509 $1,963,635 $2,489,384 $72,371 N $1,932,938 $0 $17,274 $101,375 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Independence Institute

    727 EAST 16TH AVENUE
    DENVER, CO 80203-2048