Independence Institute

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Not to be confused with The Independent Institute, a libertarian think-tank based in Oakland, California.
Independence Institute
Logo Independence Institute.jpg
Freedom's Front Line
Established 1985
Chairman Catherine Shopneck
President Jon Caldara
Budget Revenue: $1,718,687
Expenses: $1,845,951
(FYE June 2012)[1]

Denver, Colorado

(39°44′31″N 104°58′40″W / 39.7419°N 104.9779°W / 39.7419; -104.9779Coordinates: 39°44′31″N 104°58′40″W / 39.7419°N 104.9779°W / 39.7419; -104.9779)

727 E. 16th Ave.

Denver, Colorado 80203

The Independence Institute (II) is a libertarian[2][3] think tank based in Denver, Colorado. Founded in 1985, the Institute focuses "on education, taxes, healthcare, the Second Amendment, the U.S. Constitution, the environment, government transparency, transportation, personal freedom, government reform, local government, and criminal justice."[4]


As of June 2010, the Independence Institute's Research Director is American author, attorney and political science researcher Dave Kopel.[5] The Institute's president is Jon Caldara.[6]


In 2010, the Institute launched the Patient Power website to address US healthcare reform issues.[7]

The Institute created "Mothers Against Debt", a site criticizing the US national debt.[8]


The Institute holds an annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) party. In 2008, the Institute president Jon Caldara was quoted as saying, “Now remember, a year from now President [Barack] Obama might make all three activities of smoking, drinking and shooting completely illegal. This might be our very, very last opportunity.” In 2008, the event drew a crowd of around 200 supporters.[9]

Global warming[edit]

The Institute has been accused of promoting misinformation on global warming by Media Matters for America. The Institute provided several media platforms to James Taylor of the Heartland Institute. Taylor's claims about global warming were disputed by Media Matters, including the claim that there is no scientific consensus on man-made global warming. The article also noted donations of $561,500 from 1998 to 2005 to the Heartland Institute.[10]

Education reform[edit]

In 2008, the Rocky Mountain News published an article describing the Institute's opposition to Colorado's proposed Amendment 59, a measure to "creat[e] a savings account for schools". Jon Caldara and Penn Pfiffner were mentioned as opposing the bill in the article. Pfiffner is also the director of the Independence Institute's Fiscal Policy Center.[11]

Media presence[edit]

In 2007, Media Matters accused the Institute of dominating the Colorado media. Media Matters described the Instituteas "a behemoth with an aggressive media strategy and ideological bent." Media Matters expressed concerned with "uncritical quotation" of the Institute's president Jon Caldara by reporters.[12]

Issue advocacy[edit]

In 2005, the Institute ran afoul of a law requiring registration of issues-based groups, and disclosure of donors. The Institute's challenge to the laws were successful. Because of the restrictions to freedom of association implied by the laws, the Institute applied to the Supreme Court for a judgement against such laws.[13]

See also[edit]

  • State Policy Network – a U.S. national network of free-market oriented think tanks of which Independence Institute is a member


  1. ^ "Charity Rating". Charity Navigator.  Also see "Quickview data". GuideStar. 
  2. ^ Tomasic, John (November 10, 2011). "Cain harassment news: Ah the cash, the laughs!". Colorado Independent. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Jones, Brad (2009-11-27). "Right wing takes flight at Independence Institute's Founders' Night Dinner". Colorado Statesman. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Independence Institute, About: Independence Institute, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  5. ^ Kopel, Dave, Dave Kopel Home Page, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  6. ^ Independence Institute, Independence Institute Staff, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  7. ^ Independence Institute, Patient Power, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  8. ^ Independence Institute, Mothers Against Debt, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  9. ^ O'Connell, J. C. (2008-06-30), Shootin’, Smokin’ and Sippin’ with the Independence Institute, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  10. ^ C. H. (2008-03-21), Independence Institute again used public television to promote global warming misinformation, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  11. ^ E. B. (2008-11-08), Rocky failed to ID Independence Institute staffer in rundown of Amendment 59 opponents, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  12. ^ (2007-09-29), Independence Institute: Loved and Embedded by Denver Media, retrieved 2010-06-22 
  13. ^ Shapiro, Ilya (2009-10-05), Independence Institute v. Buescher, retrieved 2010-06-22 

External links[edit]