Tuesday, September 23, 2008

John McCain's Sleezy Reform Institute

Talk about SPECIAL INTEREST CONNECTIONS, and taking care of your Good Old Boys Club. Take a look at this Source Watch Article on Reform Institute...why isn't the National Press asking John McCain some serious questions about this?

The Reform Institute

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This article is part of the front groups portal on Sourcewatch. Join our team of citizen journalists researching and exposing industry secrets.

The Reform Institute describes itself as "a multi-issue think tank that champions the national interest by formulating and advocating meaningful reform in vital areas of public policy, including campaign finance and election reform, energy and climate stewardship, homeland security, immigration reform and economic policy."[1] The Institute, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit group, was founded after the failure of the Arizona Senator John McCain's bid to win the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. McCain and former Democrat Senator Bob Kerrey were the two founding co-chairman of the institute's Advisory Committee. McCain resigned his position in 2005.[1]




The Institute, which has been identified as both an astroturf organization and phony think tank, "primarily seems to be the 2008 McCain-for-President campaign-in-waiting."[2][3] In August 2005, the Institute was "housed in the same Old Towne office building as McCain's re-election committee (Friends of John McCain)," his Straight Talk America PAC, and "his adviser's lobbying firm" Davis, Manafort & Freedman, Inc.[4]

"The chairman of the board of the Reform Institute is ... John McCain," Bradley A. Smith wrote. "If you go to look at the press releases at reforminstitute.org, you will see that virtually every release mentions Sen. McCain in the first sentence. Not paragraph, sentence. Who runs the Reform Institute? Well, the president is Richard Davis, who is paid over $110,000 a year. Who is Richard Davis? He was John McCain’s 2000 campaign manager. The counsel to the Reform Institute is Trevor Potter, whose law firm is paid more than $50,000 a year for the work. Who is Trevor Potter? Why, he was legal counsel to McCain 2000! The finance director of the Reform Institute is a woman named Carla Eudy. She was finance director for McCain 2000. The communications director is Crystal Benton; she was McCain’s press secretary.

"Recently the Reform Institute, which bills itself as 'a thoughtful, moderate voice for reform in the campaign finance and election administration debates,' launched what it calls the Natural Resources Stewardship Project. And what does natural resources stewardship have to do with 'campaign finance and election administration'? As near as I can tell, its only connection to campaign finance and election administration is, as the institute’s site tells us, that 'Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have introduced the Climate Stewardship Act' in Congress. And, of course, John McCain is planning to run for president again, and his signature issue, other than campaign finance regulation, is global warming. To run the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, the institute hired John Raidt, who, you guessed it, served 15 years working on 'environmental initiatives' for Sen. McCain," Smith wrote.

"And how is the Reform Institute funded? With contributions, in six figures or more, from individuals and corporations, including the cable company Cablevision. Cable companies are constantly before the Senate Commerce Committee, which Sen. McCain chaired at the time of Cablevision’s contribution. In fact, Cablevision gave $200,000 to the Reform Institute around the same time its officials were testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee. Appearance of corruption, anyone?", Smith asked.[5]


The Reform Institute's 2005 annual return to the Internal Revenue Service reoported total revenue of $1,156,354 and total expenditure of $1,131,768.[6]On its website it provides a detailed historical list of contributors to the group. However, it is not possible to identify current donors.

Foundation supporters

The foundations listed as having supported the institute since its foundation include:

Corporate supporters


Board of Directors


  • Cecilia Martinez, Executive Director
  • Daniel Ortiz, Legal Advisor
  • Dr. Juan Hernandez, Senior Fellow of the Institute's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Initiative
  • Robert W. Kelly, Senior Advisor for Homeland/National Security
  • Nichole Remmert serves as the development director for the Reform Institute.
  • Kerry Buker, Coordinator on Climate and Energy Policy and Executive Assistant
  • Chris Dreibelbis serves as the Communications and Economic Policy Director for the Reform Institute.
  • Tina Guthrie, Program and Research Associate for homeland security, energy, and climate change.
  • Sarah Wambaugh, Program and Research Assistant for campaign reform and economic policy.

Former staff and Board presidents


  • Tony Corrado is a professor at Colby College and assists the Institute with research that involves money in politics.
  • Sam Hirsch is a partner in Jenner & Block's Washington, D.C. office. With Ortiz he was project director for the Institute's publication, Beyond Party Lines: Principles for Redistricting Reform.
  • BJ Martino is a Vice President with The Tarrance Group, a political research and strategy firm that conducts polling on behalf of the Institute.
  • Ken Nahigian, Senior Advisor to the Institute's Center for Energy and Environmental Progress.
  • Don Murphy, Senior Advisor to the Institute's State Strategies Initiative
  • Kristen Murray, Project Director for the Institute’s 2007 publication Playing Fair: 527 Reforms in the States.
  • Ken Smukler, project manager for the 1-866-MyVote1 consortium.
  • Tim Crawford, development and networking strategies.

Advisory board

According to the Institute's website, is a "bipartisan group of notable academics, legal experts, election administrators, and public officials."[7]

Academic advisory committee

Government & politics advisory committee

Business & finance advisory committee

Former members of the advisory board



The web address for Reform Institute contributions is that for DonationReport.com, plus an extension code for The Reform Institute.

The connection for the DonationReport.com website arrives at a Login page—requiring both a User ID and Password—which belongs to eDonation.com, a member of The Donatelli Group, a fundraising company that has raised campaign funds for the Republican National Committee, Republican National Convention, Bush-Cheney '04 Inc., John McCain, the NRA [1], Vets for Freedom, and an exhaustive list of Republican members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as other political organizations.[10]

Contact information

The Reform Institute
300 North Washington Street, Suite 600
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703 535-6897
FAX: 866 863-5510
Website: http://www.reforminstitute.org

SourceWatch resources

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 "About Us", accessed March 2008.
  2. "Scampaign Finance", The Agitator (blog), March 17th, 2005.
  3. Brian C. Anderson, "The Plot to Shush Rush and O’Reilly", City Journal, The Manhattan Institute, Winter 2006.
  4. "The Horse McCain", Dangerus, August 5, 2005.
  5. Bradley A. Smith, "John McCain’s War on Political Speech. How the Arizona senator and other campaign finance reformers use the law to muffle critics and trample the First Amendment," Reason Online, December 2005.
  6. 2005 Annual return, page 1.
  7. "About Us", accessed March 2008.
  8. 2005 Annual return, page 24.
  9. 2005 Annual return, page 24.
  10. "Clients", Campaign Solutions website, accessed June 2008.


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