COLUMBUS – Progress Ohio said Tuesday that the Buckeye Institute is waging a war on working people and using publicly available government data to do it.
“It’s more than a bit rich that the husband and wife team who run the Buckeye Institute and pay themselves half a million dollars a year are attempting to shame public servants for making an honest living working on behalf of the rest of us,” said Progress Ohio Spokesperson Ron Sylvester.
While the Buckeye Institute began as a conservative economics think-tank in 1989, its financial fortunes – and its focus – have changed since the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates of dark money in American politics. The Buckeye Institute’s annual budget has ballooned to over $3 million annually. In 2018, around 80 percent of the group’s budget was funded by nameless, faceless contributions in chunks of $100,000 or more.
“We know that there is a far-right political effort across the U.S. to drive down wages and the basic safety rights workers have earned over generations,” Sylvester said.
“The dark money political-industrial complex has moved former think tanks – that analyzed government spending and offered conservative public policy – to becoming hired guns for wealthy and corporate interests who want no more than cheaper labor and fewer safety and other standards in the workplace,” Sylvester said.
“The Buckeye Institute is anti-union. We get it – that’s what they’re getting paid to be these days,” Sylvester said. “What we don’t get is the hypocrisy.”
“If they’re going to demand transparency from government about employee pay, how about we get transparency about the Buckeye Institute’s funding sources and what they pay their employees?”
Sylvester added that databases like those published online by the Buckeye Institute border on being dangerous today when personally identifiable data online is being abused and misused.
“Is publishing this data online just a way to share it for political targeting or advertising purposes? Is the data able to be scraped in bulk from their website? Is it necessary to identify salaries with names?,” Sylvester asked.
“Again, I ask what’s the point of this?”
Progress Ohio is calling for Buckeye Institute to remove the databases from the web.
“There’s no purpose for this data to be aggregated and shared in this manner,” Sylvester said.
Sylvester also pointed out that the Buckeye Institute and its sister organization, the Washington state-based Freedom Foundation have been waging a two-year war on unions in Ohio via online ads, obnoxious public displays in front of government buildings, mailers and spam email campaigns. Both organizations are primary affiliates of the State Policy Network, an $80 million per year right-wing umbrella group funded by the Koch Family and other wealthy and corporate interests.