Unions, allies release critiques of Yankee Institute

Opponents of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy released two reports last week exposing the right-wing think tank's malevolent anti-union motivations and shadowy funding sources.

Recovery For All — a statewide coalition of 58 community, labor and faith organizations, including Council 4 AFSCME — convened a virtual press conference April 6 with leaders from the state legislature, clergy, community groups and labor organizations to announce the release of two new reports critiquing the Hartford-based Yankee Institute.

The first report shows how the Yankee Institute has consistently advocated for regressive policies that protect the ultra-wealthy and harm working families.

The second report exposes the Yankee Institute’s shadowy donors, including those which contribute money to problematic groups around the country.

Recovery for All collaborated on the reports with the Center for Popular Democracy and the Hedge Clippers, a nationwide group dedicated to exposing dark money sources used by the billionaire class to maintain political power.

“Our research reveals that the Yankee Institute is leading the charge on a set of regressive policies in Connecticut that protect the interests of the state’s corporations and the ultra wealthy," Center for Popular Democracy Senior Research Analyst Maggie Corser said during the press conference.

The Yankee Institute is a member of the Koch-funded State Policy Network, a network of state-based organizations that work closely with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to develop model legislation.

The Yankee Institute has received over $3 million in anonymous donations from two donor funds, Donor Capital Fund and DonorsTrust — entities funded in part by the Koch family, who have come under fire recently for continuing to do business in Russia during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In addition to millions in donations to the Yankee Institute, Donor Capital Fund and DonorsTrust have given thousands of grants to extreme right-wing groups around the country, including millions in grants to hate groups as designated by Southern Poverty Law Center.

No place in policymaking

Other speakers included State Rep. Anne Hughes (D-Easton) and State Rep. Robyn Porter (D-Hamden), Liz Dupont-Diehl of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, SEIU 1199 NE President Rob Baril, and the Rev. Josh Pawelek, of the Unitarian Universalist: East congregation in Manchester.

Hughes called upon her peers in the legislature to be wary of the Yankee Institute.

"I urge my colleagues not to be fooled by the concept of 'Yankee, individualistic, scrappy, sound values' that its title suggests, but understand that this organization is a mouthpiece for national, right-wing, big money interests," she said.

Porter echoed Hughes, saying that the Yankee Institute has no place in policymaking, especially around taxation.

Connecticut’s tax system is already "destructively regressive," she said, and allows Connecticut’s wealthiest households to pay significantly less in income taxes than average income households.

"We need to be more vigilant about doing our homework," she said. "We need to make sure we’re being led and not misled. Our constituents are counting on us to get this right."

Pawelek spoke about why opposing the Yankee Institute is a moral issue. He said that he witnessed how Connecticut residents are struggling and questioned whether the Yankee Institute cared about “the least of these.” 

“Does the Yankee Institute staff spend any time at all with the people who are bearing the brunt of an unfair tax system, economic austerity and anti-union propaganda?" he said. "Based on their policy proposals, they clearly don’t care."

As a member of the State Policy Network, the Yankee Institute’s plan of attack includes discrediting pensions and attacking workers’ collective bargaining units. Check out this video from the National Public Pension Coalition to learn more about this tangled web of anti-worker special interests.

To read the full reports, visit RecoveryForAllCT.com/reports