What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 2, 2014

Follow The Money - PATownhall

A week or so ago, I stumbled across this website.  It's "PaTownHall - Pennsylvania's marketplace of ideas" and it describes itself as:
PA Town Hall is a cooperative project involving over 20 center/right organizations and columnists from throughout Pennsylvania. It is a "one stop shop" for readers to view the latest policy papers, news releases, newsletters, polls, blogs and columns as well as listen to radio programs produced by participating organizations.
The site piqued my curiosity, to say the least.  Where did it come from?  Who hosts it?  Who's paying for it?  And finally, HOW MUCH SCAIFE MONEY IS ENTWINED IN THE PROJECT?

So let's follow the money.

On the "About" page we learn that:
PA Town Hall is owned and operated by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. The Lincoln Institute is a 501c3 nonprofit educational foundation based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The mission statement of the Lincoln Institute commits the organization to "the conduct of an extensive public information and educational program designed to foster federal and state public policy based upon traditional American values."
Ah, The Lincoln Institute.  According to the Bridgeproject, the Institute has received overall $1.428 million dollars over the last 20 or so years - 68% of which ($980,000) came from the Scaife controlled Allegheny Foundation.

But what about those "20 center/right organizations" that make up the project?

Let's take a look.  Here's the page titled "Member Groups".  Alot of the list is made up of individuals, so let's set them aside and just concentrate on the some of groups on the "Member Group" page that have received Scaife funding (all info from the BridgeProject):

  • Allegheny Institute: $6.484 million total, 89% ($5.8 million) from Scaife foundations
  • Commonwealth Foundation: $7.523 million total, 35% ($2.667 million) from Scaife foundations
  • Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: $9.865 million total 14.7% ($1.45 million) from Scaife foundations
And so on.  I note that our good friend Salena Zito is also on the "Member Groups" list.  She's a staff writer and editorial columnist for the Tribune-Review

Here's a thought experiment: What would PATownhall look like had it never received 68% of it's foundation funding from the Scaife Foundations?  What would the political geography of the state look like without all that money coming from those three sources all controlled (until recently, of course) by one very rich white guy?

Here's a couple more: The next time Salena Zito mentions anyone else (individual or organization) on the PA Townhall "Member Group" (for example Senator Toomey) will she, in the spirit of full disclosure, mention their common membership on that list?  

Next time Lowman Henry is so lovingly profiled by the Tribune-Review, will they point out that their former owner shuttled hundreds of thousands of dollars Henry's way to fund the Lincoln Institute?

Follow the money.

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