Media failed to identify conservative think tank that laundered DeLay travel money

News reports on recent revelations that gambling interests funded a lavish, expense-paid trip to Britain by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and his wife by funneling the money through a tax-exempt organization, the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), have consistently failed to note that NCPPR is a conservative think tank.

  • In a March 16 article, The Washington Post referred to “a nonprofit group -- the National Center for Public Policy Research -- that covered the same amount as the cost of DeLay's London trip.”
  • On March 17, the Post referred to “a second tax-exempt charity, the National Center for Public Policy Research.”
  • In its March 21 issue, Time magazine reported: “Three G.O.P. House members enjoyed trips to Britain that included a round of golf at St. Andrews in Scotland; all claimed the visits were work related and funded by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a think tank.”
  • The Chicago Tribune reported on “the National Center for Public Policy Research, a public policy group that largely covered the cost of a trip DeLay took in 2000 to Britain.” Knight Ridder / Tribune Information Services syndicated the story to its papers around the country.
  • The Associated Press reported on March 16: “DeLay reported in House financial disclosures that the weeklong May 2000 trip was paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a nonprofit organization.”

In fact, NCPPR makes no secret of its political ideology. In addition to proclaiming that it is “A Conservative Think Tank” in the header of its website's home page, NCPPR explains its mission this way: “In 1982, we started The National Center to provide the conservative movement with a versatile and energetic organization capable of responding quickly and decisively to fast-breaking issues.” The watchdog group Media Transparency reports that NCPPR has received funding from prominent conservative foundations, including the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; the Randolph Foundation; the Roe Foundation; and two foundations controlled by notorious right-wing Clinton-hater Richard Mellon Scaife: the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Carthage Foundation.

NCPPR's president and chairman, Amy Ridenour, is a former deputy director of the College Republican National Committee and former regional coordinator for Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign.

In 2003, Ridenour authored a quasi-denial that global warming caused by human activity is a real phenomenon:

The theory that human activity is causing the planet to warm significantly is just that, a theory, and one that, so far, hasn't been coming true. Any serious discussion about global warming -- whether in Senate debate, hearing testimony, speeches, prepared remarks or press releases -- should include an acknowledgement that the best available scientific models of our atmosphere are not yet sophisticated enough to accurately predict either future temperatures or humankind's impact upon climate.

NCPPR publishes reports, policy papers, and talking points on a variety of issues, including environmental and regulatory policy, national defense, health care, Social Security, and legal reform.

NCPPR is supporting President Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security by echoing Bush's crisis rhetoric on the issue. One page of talking points misleadingly claims that Social Security faces a $26 trillion shortfall between now and 2077. In fact, the Social Security trustees estimate the true 75-year shortfall at $3.7 trillion. NCPPR's estimate relies on a misleading Heritage Foundation analysis that uses a “constant dollar” estimate of the shortfall, a bogus measurement that responsible analysts reject.

NCPPR runs a website,, that is “dedicated to injecting badly needed truth into the debate about our environment.” The site purports to debunk “myths and misunderstandings” about global warming, referred to as “climate change,” and to counter claims that chemicals such as perchlorate (used in rocket propellants) and MTBE (a gasoline additive) pose a danger to public health when they seep into drinking water supplies.

NCPPR has also been a leading advocate for tort “reform.” Its publications on the subject rail against “frivolous lawsuits,” “lawsuit abuse,” and “predatory attorneys.”

On health care, NCPPR favors privatizing Medicare through “multiple private insurance program choices for seniors within Medicare.”

On civil rights, one commentator for NCPPR, Mike Green, claimed that “the political party that failed to defeat the Civil Rights Act,” i.e., the Democratic party, has supported anti-poverty measures that are destroying black families. He urged blacks to support “white conservatives, who actually seek to uphold moral virtues”:

In 1964, when Southern Democrats lost their fight against the Civil Rights Act, blacks progressed at a phenomenal rate. Albeit poor, we were moving in the right direction. We believed in God, family and freedom. Families were mostly intact. Out-of-wedlock births were below 25 percent, and that was considered high.

In 1965, liberals began introducing hundreds of government programs creating a massive welfare state now in dire need of reform. The dirty secret is that, under the guise of government assistance, those wishing to suck from the federal cash nipple must remove the male provider from a household or find their cash cut off. As a result, black illegitimacy skyrocketed.

Should black America assume some responsibility for this mess? You bet. But is it by mistake or design that government programs to help financially-strapped families can be accessed only if the nucleus of the family is destroyed in the process? Is it by mistake or design that the political party that failed to defeat the Civil Rights Act is tossing cash in the face of poor black women only if they divorce their men and marry the government?

Ever since Republicans first passed civil rights legislation in 1866, opponents of more rights and freedoms and equal status for blacks have lost every battle. They have, however, convinced blacks that conservatives seek to oppress us. That's another lie. The attention we give to hating white conservatives, who actually seek to uphold moral virtues and fight for our independence from government, keeps us from paying attention to our own problems.

Green is a member of NCPPR's Project 21, described as a “national leadership network of black conservatives.” Among the members of Project 21's national advisory board is Mychal Massie, who wrote a December 2004 column for the conservative news website that likened Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to segregationists T. Eugene “Bull” Connor and Orval Faubus for his criticism of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Massie also claimed Reid was “simply being true to his inbred familial heritage” as a Mormon, then cited racist statements by past Mormon leaders.