Goldwater Institute

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Goldwater Institute
Institute logo
Established 1988
Chairman Thomas C. Patterson
President Darcy A. Olsen
Faculty 28[1]
Staff 20[2]
Budget Revenue: $3,830,266
Expenses: $3,463,958
(FYE December 2012)[3]

Phoenix, Arizona

(33°28′05″N 112°03′54″W / 33.468°N 112.065°W / 33.468; -112.065Coordinates: 33°28′05″N 112°03′54″W / 33.468°N 112.065°W / 33.468; -112.065)
Address 500 East Coronado Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

The Goldwater Institute is a Phoenix, Arizona-based conservative[4][5][6][7][8] public policy advocacy and research organization established in 1988 with the support of the late Senator Barry Goldwater.[9] The Goldwater Institute advocates public policies with emphasis on empowering states to thwart overreach by the federal government, improving government transparency, reducing the tax burden, expanding school choice, and protecting entrepreneurship and free enterprise. Its stated mission is "to advance freedom and protect the Constitution,"[10] and it is devoted to the principles championed by the late Senator Barry Goldwater such as "individual rights, economic freedom, and a government of strictly limited powers."

The Goldwater Institute has hosted several prominent politicians, journalists, and speakers, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Czech Republic President Václav Klaus, and New York Times best-selling author Mark Steyn. In 2008 the Goldwater Institute won the Templeton Freedom Award for Initiative in Public Relations. In 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, the Goldwater Institute was named "Best Capitol Watchdog" of all of the groups following the Arizona Legislature by the Arizona Capitol Times and its readers.

Financials and funding[edit]

The Goldwater Institute is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Goldwater Institute is funded by private individuals and charitable foundations. Donors include the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Roe Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, and the State Policy Network.[11][not in citation given]

Issues and lobbying[edit]

The Institute has been involved in of hundreds of policy reforms that are now law in states across the country.[citation needed] Among these are Save Our Secret Ballot and the Health freedom movement. Goldwater Institute attorneys have successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on issues such as First Amendment freedom of speech.[how?][citation needed] They have also been involved with the National Labor Relations Board to stop card check, and to protect the right of workers to have private ballots in union organizing elections.[when?]

The Goldwater Institute lobbies the Arizona Legislature and lawmakers in statehouses across the country on bills dealing with various policy issues, including education, labor, healthcare, budgeting, pensions, and tort law. As a conservative nonprofit, the institute has supported measures[specify] that would stop Arizona from implementing a healthcare exchange under the Affordable Care Act, restrict collective bargaining, and expand Education Savings Accounts to give students and families more education opportunities.[citation needed]

The Goldwater Institute is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which develops model legislation that supports a conservative ideology. Several Goldwater Institute policy initiatives, such as the Health Care Freedom Act and Save Our Secret Ballot, have been adopted as model legislation and replicated in dozens[specify] of other states.

Legislative work[edit]

The Goldwater Institute is one of the most influential state-based public policy organizations in the United States.[citation needed] It advocated the creation of Education Savings Accounts, which provides favorable tax treatment to savings intended to pay for education.[citation needed] It also developed legislation[which?] that requires audits and online financial databases of state agencies, school districts, municipal governments and special districts.[citation needed]

Goldwater Institute research also inspired a 10-percent, across-the-board income tax rate reduction and prompted the Arizona to convert most state employees to at-will employment.[citation needed]

Litigation center[edit]

The Goldwater Institute created the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, directed by Clint Bolick, in June 2007. The Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation engages in lawsuits against federal, state, and local governmental bodies to advocate adherence to constitutional law and to protect individual rights, such as property rights, from potential government intrusion. The Goldwater Institute funds its litigation center entirely from donations.[citation needed]

The Goldwater Institute filed its first case in July 2007, defending five charter schools from Arizona's department of education, which tried to enforce curriculum changes. The cases were eventually settled out of court.[12] In Turken v. Gordon the Goldwater Institute sued the city of Phoenix over a $100 million corporate subsidy to the CityNorth development, which the Goldwater Institute claimed was illegal under the Arizona constitution.[13] In December 2008, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Goldwater Institute saying the corporate subsidy violated the Arizona constitution's gift clause.

In the 2008 McComish v. Bennett case, the Goldwater Institute filed suit against the Matching Funds Provision of Clean Elections[clarification needed] to protect the First Amendment rights of candidates who choose not to participate in the taxpayer-funded campaign finance system. A federal judge ruled the provision unconstitutional but refused to halt matching funds it was too close to the election. On June 27, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the ruling.

In another case, Preston v. Hallman, the Goldwater Institute successfully sued the city of Tempe, Arizona on behalf of a tattoo parlor owner whose permit to operate was denied by the city council though it complied with zoning laws.[14] In two 2010 cases,[which?] the Goldwater Institute successfully defended the right of voters to wear Tea Party T-shirts to the polls. Also, in Congress Elementary School District v. Warren, et. al., the Goldwater Institute successfully defended several mothers who were being sued by their school district for making allegedly excessive requests for public records disclosure.

In Tombstone v. United States, the Goldwater Instituted advocated for the City of Tombstone, Arizona, which had been denied permission to use machinery to repair its water lines an environmentally sensitive area. A request for a preliminary injunction against the federal government was denied by the District Court; the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that ruling and the Supreme Court denied Tombstone's petition for certiorari on April 15, 2013.[15] The underlying case remains pending in the District Court as of June 2014.

Notable cases[edit]


In 2013, the liberal Center for Media and Democracy released a report criticizing the institute for its "secretive" funding, lobbying efforts, and its involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council.[18][19]


  1. ^ Senior Fellows, Goldwater Institute
  2. ^ Goldwater Staff, Goldwater Institute
  3. ^ "Charity Rating". Charity Navigator.  Also see "Quickview data". GuideStar. 
  4. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (December 28, 2009). "Health Lobby Takes Fight to the States". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Steinhauer, Jenniffer (September 19, 2009). "In Phoenix, Weekend Users Make Light Rail a Success". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ "Appeals court tosses Phoenix development deal". Tucson Citizen. December 24, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Institute wins partial victory in suit vs Glendale". USA Today. July 21, 2009. 
  8. ^ Sunnucks, Mike (January 12, 2005). "Goldwater group faults targeted tax cuts, others seek wider tax relief". Phoenix Business Journal. 
  9. ^ "The Institute". Goldwater Institute. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "About Goldwater", Goldwater Institute
  11. ^ "American Bridge Conservative Transparency". 
  12. ^ BASIS v. Horne, Goldwater Institute
  13. ^ Turken v. Gordon, Goldwater Institute
  14. ^ Preston v. Hallman, Goldwater Institute
  15. ^ "Order List". Supreme Court of the United States. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Glendale mayor urges watchdog to stop stalling Coyotes sale". 
  17. ^ "Goldwater Institute v. City of Glendale (public records in Coyotes negotiations case)". Goldwater Institute. 
  18. ^ "A Reporter's Guide to the Goldwater Institute". 
  19. ^ "Report criticizes Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 

External links[edit]