Washington Policy Center: Background and History

Washington Policy Center

Washington Policy Center


The Washington Policy Center (WPC) is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) think tank based in Seattle, Washington and with offices in Olympia, Spokane, and the Tri-Cities. It recorded an annual revenue over $2.3 million in 2014 (PDF)In its own words, the “Washington Policy Center (WPC) is an independent, non-profit, think tank that promotes sound public policy based on free-market solutions.” [3][6] 

The WPC was originally founded as the “Washington Institute for Policy Studies.” In 1997 the Washington Institute for Policy Studies (WIPS) created a new organization, the Washington Institute Foundation, which replaced the WIPS in 1998.  In 2001, the Washington Institute Foundation changed its name to the Washington Policy Center.  [1], [2], [4] [5]

In 2007, WPC raised $3.8 million to fund research centers focused on small business issues, the environment, health care, transportation, government reform, and a legislative information website, WashingtonVotes.org. WPC describes WashingtonVotes as “the premier website for tracking bills in Olympia, finding objective, plain-English summaries of legislation, and offering quick access to your legislators' voting records.” [7]

In 2013, the Washington Policy Center WPC launched a quarterly magazine titled Viewpoint. Their inaugural issue (PDF) includes an article titled ”A Hopeful Step Toward Nonpartisan Climate Policy” by Todd Myers, where WPC advocates actions by Washington Governor Jay Inslee's, which echo climate policies of “ALEC draft legislation called 'The Environmental Priorities Act'.”  The Center for Media and Democracy's SourceWatch has more information on ALEC and the group's draft legislation. [8]

WPC's mission (PDF) is ” to promote free-market solutions through research and education.” According to WPC's 2002 annual report, “We believe ideas, supported by sound research and promoted through publications, conferences and the media, over time, create an environment in which sound public policy decisions are made.” [9]

The Washington Policy Center has quoted Jack Kemp as calling them the “Heritage Foundation of the Northwest.” WPC is also a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a group that has been behind a growing number of “mini Heritage Foundations” at the state level since the early 1990s.  [10], [11]

The WPC's single largest donor has been a group called Donors Capital Fund (DCF). DCF has been described as the “dark money ATM” of the conservative movement in the US, and effectively obscures the identity of original donors. [28]

Stance on Climate Change

“We agree with scientists like Pat Michaels of the CATO Institute and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group that the level of atmospheric carbon from all sources does increase the heat in the atmosphere. What is less clear is how much of an impact humans are having and what the temperature impact will be.” [12]

In his presentation, “The Difference Between Scientists and Policymakers” (PDF) at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, sponsored by the Heartland Institute, Todd Myers stated that science is myopic and scientists conflate science and policy. Further, Myers declared “scientists tend to overestimate their confidence in their assessment of risk.” [13]

In conclusion, Myers stated his belief that the unintended consequences of implementing environmental public policy outweigh the positives done by the regulation itself. The final point on his power-point presentation is that “David Suzuki is absurd and myopic.”

Related Documents

Annual Reports


990 Forms


Reviewed Financial Statements



According to their website,”WPC is funded through donations from individual supporters, foundation grants and businesses. Individual membership starts at $50 per year, not counting our six-month free introductory membership. WPC's budget is about $2 million per year.” [1]

Below is a summary of data currently available in the Conservative Transparency Database. Note that not all individual funding entires have been verified by DeSmogBlog for accuracy. View attached .xls file for more information. [14]

  Washington Institute for Policy Studies Washington Institute Foundation Washington Policy Center Grand Total
Donors Capital Fund     $632,275 $632,275
The Roe Foundation $5,000   $220,000 $225,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation   $178,500   $178,500
State Policy Network     $116,832 $116,832
JM Foundation $10,000 $10,000 $90,000 $110,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation     $105,000 $105,000
John M. Olin Foundation     $64,000 $64,000
Castle Rock Foundation     $40,000 $40,000
Robert P. Rotella Foundation     $27,500 $27,500
Searle Freedom Trust     $15,000 $15,000
PhRMA     $10,500 $10,500
Atlas Economic Research Foundation     $6,100 $6,100
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation     $5,000 $5,000
DonorsTrust     $2,000 $2,000
Grand Total $15,000 $188,500 $1,334,207 $1,537,707

Key People


The current president of the WPC is Daniel Mead Smith who has been with the WPC since 1991 and became their president in 2001. [30]

The former president is Bill Baldwin. Baldwin acted as president when WCP was operated under its former name, the Washington Institute for Policy Studies. [29]

Baldwin is the CEO of the insurance firm Baldwin Resource Group, Inc. Bill Baldwin has also worked for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)—one of the oldest free enterprise think tanks in the United States. FEE has received funding from both the Scaife Family Foundations and the Koch Family Foundations.

Board of Directors

The Washington Policy Center (WPC) is governed by a 27-member volunteer Board of Directors that meets four times per year, plus board committee meetings. Board members do not direct daily operations or select research topics. Below is the WPC board, as of September, 2015. [1]

  • Craig Williamson, Chairman, MM Comfort Systems – Redmond
  • John Otter, Vice Chairman, CBC Partners, LLC – Bellevue
  • Dave Barber, Treasurer, Bartell-Barber Investments LLC – Seattle
  • Matt McIlwain, Secretary, Madrona Venture Group – Seattle
  • Richard Alvord – Seattle
  • Bill Baldwin, The Partners Group – Bellevue 
  • Roger Bowlin,  R.W. Bowlin Investment Solutions – Chelan (Also Trustee of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation)
  • Artie Buerk, Montlake Capital - Seattle
  • Jim Coles, Western Peterbilt (retired) – Seattle
  • William Conner – Bellevue
  • John Connors, Ignition Partners – Bellevue
  • Kathy Connors – Bellevue
  • Anne Cowles - Spokane
  • Hon. Kemper Freeman, Jr., Kemper Development – Bellevue
  • John J. Hennessy – Snoqualmie
  • Daniel Mead Smith, President, Washington Policy Center
  • Hon. George R. Nethercutt Jr. – Spokane
  • Hon. Mary Odermat, Brown Bear Car Wash – Medina
  • Mark Pinkowski, Willis - Seattle
  • Greg Porter, Berntson Porter & Company – Bellevue
  • Sarah Rindlaub, Past Chairman – Mercer Island
  • Phil Scott Schlaepfer, Merrill Lynch - The Phil Scott Group – Bellevue
  • Irene Song, PACCAR Inc. – Seattle 
  • Hon. Brian Sonntag, Executive Director, Rescue Mission – Tacoma
  • Heidi Stanley, Empire Bolt & Screw, Inc - Spokane
  • Randy Talbot, Talbot Financial – Bellevue
  • Robert Tippett, Tippett Company – Pasco
  • Janet True – Seattle
  • Roberta Weymouth, Silver Cloud Inns & Hotels – Bellevue
  • Wayne Williams, Telect, Inc. – Liberty Lake
  • Len Zarelli, Merit Company – Lakewood 
Board Emeritus 
  • Hon. Emilio Cantu, Former Washington State Senator – Bellevue
  • Jim Day – Gig Harbor
  • Richard Derham – Seattle
  • Barbara Kenney – Bellevue
  • David Maryatt – Seattle
  • John “Scotty” McEachern – Seattle
  • Ed McMillan – Silverdale
  • Amb. Della Newman, former Amb. to New Zealand – Bow
  • Hon. William Polk, William Polk Associates – Seattle
  • Al Symington – Seattle 
  • Robert L. Wiley III – Bellevue 
Eastern Washington Advisory Board
  • Brenda Alford, Alford Farms, Inc. – Pasco
  • Tom Beil, Wells Fargo Bank – Spokane
  • Roger Bowlin, R.W. Bowlin Investment Solutions – Lake Chelan
  • Michael Cannon, Owner, Elements Therapeutic Massage – Spokane
  • Kent Clausen – Spokane
  • Anne Cowles – Spokane
  • Jon Devaney, Executive Director, Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association – Yakima
  • Craig Dias, Haskins Steel – Spokane
  • Pat Dix, Dix Corporation – Spokane
  • Bill Farris, Richland
  • Randy Gold, Gold Construction – Wenatchee
  • Paul Gray, Gray’s Electric – Wenatchee
  • Colin Hastings, Executive Director, Pasco Chamber of Commerce – Pasco
  • Tom Hix, NAI Black - Spokane
  • Melanie Hoefer, Tri-Cities Journal of Business – Kennewick
  • Robert Jankelson, Tsillan Cellars – Chelan
  • Larry Lambeth, President, Employment Screening Services, Inc. - Spokane
  • William Lampson, Lampson International – Kennewick
  • Steve Landon, Reese Concrete Products - Kennewick
  • Jordana LaPorte, LaPorte Financial Alliance - Chelan
  • Jeff Losey, Executive Director, Homebuilders of the Tri-Cities – Kennewick
  • Lori Mattson, President, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce – Kennewick
  • Stuart McDougall, McDougall and Sons Fruit – Wenatchee
  • Dr. Blake McKinley – Spokane Valley
  • Jack McRae - Chelan
  • Heidi Myers, Washington Trust Bank – Wenatchee
  • Hon. George Nethercutt – Spokane
  • Joed Ngaruiya, Sterling Bank – Kennewick
  • Chris Patterson, Breakthrough Incorporated
  • Joseph “Vic” Parrish, Former CEO, Energy Northwest - West Richland
  • Mike Poulson, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Director, 5th Congressional District – Connell
  • Tom Power – Spokane
  • Janet Schmidlkofer, K&N Electric – Spokane
  • Chris Senske, Senske Lawn & Tree Care – Kennewick
  • Jeff Severs, Northwestern Mutual – Spokane 
  • Julie Shiflett - Spokane
  • Bruce Smith, Publisher, Yakima Valley Business Times – Yakima
  • Mark Sonderen, Sonderen Packaging – Spokane
  • Heidi Stanley, Empire Bolt – Spokane
  • Peter Stanton, Washington Trust Bank – Spokane
  • Tyrus Tenold – Spokane Valley
  • Robert Tippett, Tippett Company – Pasco
  • Judi Williams, Telect, Inc. – Liberty Lake
  • Wayne Williams, Telect, Inc. – Liberty Lake


As of September, 2015 the Washington Policy Center (WPC) listed the following staff members on their website: [15]

  • Daniel Mead Smith — President
  • Paul Guppy — Vice President for Research
  • Liv Finne — Director, Center for Education
  • Todd Myers — Director, Center for the Environment
  • Jason Mercier — Director, Center for Government Reform
  • Roger Stark, MD — Health Care Policy Analyst
  • Erin Shannon — Director, Center for Small Business
  • Bob Pishue — Director, Coles Center for Transportation
  • Lisa Shin — Communications & Marketing Director
  • Stephanie True — Development Director
  • Chris Cargill — Eastern Washington Office Director
  • Braden Goodwin — Operations Manager
  • Sydney Jansen — Development Manager
  • Katie Bulger — Event Manager
  • Elizabeth Toledo — Communications Coordinator
  • Tashina Kreilick — Development Assistant
  • Sydney Parker — Operations Assistant
  • Nick Pangares — Eastern Washington Research Assistant

Past Board of Directors (2012)

As of March, 2012, the Washington Policy Center's board also included: [16]

  • Anne Kelley — Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation.
  • Jerry Nutter — Nutter Corporation, Vancouver.
  • Ken D. Peterson — Jr., Columbia Ventures Corp., Vancouver.


March 27, 2015

The Washington Policy Center has lobbied against Cap and Trade in the past. In an article titled “Washington's Cap-and-Trade is Dead,” Todd Myers brings up the “long string of failed taskforces and proposals” regarding cap and trade in the past, concluding that “maybe it is time to stop recycling the same failed ideas.” [17]

The Washington Policy Also released a March, 2015 Policy Brief titled “Five myths of Cap-and-Trade” (PDF), critical of the cap and trade system recommended by Governor Inslee in Washington State.

The Policy Brief concludes:

“Cap-and-trade continues to be the preferred climate policy of the environmental left. The arguments they make to support it, however, are often incorrect or contradicted by experience. A serious approach to environmental policy and funding education should be built on more than the hope that it will work out better this time.”

October, 2014

The Washington Policy Center has consistently been critical of Governor Inslee's actions on climate change policy. In October, 2014, Todd Myers criticizes Inslee for his use of a “flawed University of Oregon study that used outdated projections.” [18]

Myers concludes, “Much of the discussion about climate policy in Washington state involves raising the specter of catastrophic economic impacts as a way of justifying expensive and harmful policies. This Executive Order makes use of this approach, warning that unless we take action, the costs to Washington’s economy will be significant.”

December, 2011

WPC published its first “Policy Guide” for Washington State. In their chapter on the environment, WPC reveals their stance on climate change: [12]

“We agree with scientists like Pat Michaels of the CATO Institute and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group that the level of atmospheric carbon from all sources does increase the heat in the atmosphere. What is less clear is how much of an impact humans are having and what the temperature impact will be.”

WPC recommends that a potential solution is to put a small price on carbon, while Washington should “eliminate costly and ineffective carbon regulations and programs.”

September, 2011

Todd Myers, the Washington Policy Center's Director of the Center for the Environment, released a book (published by the WPC) titled Eco-Fads: How The Rise Of Trendy Environmentalism Is Harming The Environment.” 

According to the WPC's description, “Eco-Fads exposes the pressures that cause politicians, businesses, the media and even scientists to fall for trendy environmental fads. It examines why we fall for such fads, even when we should know better. The desire to “be green” can cloud our judgment, causing us to place things that make us appear green ahead of actions that may be socially invisible yet environmentally responsible.” [19]

Myers promoted his book in an article in the Opinion section of The Seattle Times, titled “How the rise of trendy environmentalism is harming the planet.[20]

Eco Facts received praise from climate change skeptics in the media including Patrick Michaels in Forbes, (10/13/2011) and Sterling Burnett in National Review, (9/21/2011). [19]

July, 2011

Todd Myers, the Washington Policy Center's Director of the Center for the Environment, issued a challenge to the Sightline Institute who had made a connection between current weather and climate change. [21]
“[W]e challenge Sightline to find one climate scientist at the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences who says recent weather patterns (unusually hot in 2009 or unusually cold in 2011), are the result of anthropogenic climate change. I'll give you until the end of the day on Tuesday to find someone,” Myers said. If I lose, I'll send $50 to the charity of their choice. If I win, they send $50 to KIVA.ORG, to fund entrepreneurs in developing countries.”


WPC's Todd Myers was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's First International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1). At the conference, Myers stated that science is myoptic and scientists conflate science and policy.  Further, Myers declared “scientists tend to overestimate their confidence in their assessment of risk.”  [13]

To illustrate his point, Myers highlighted the work of the Puget Sound Action Team, which in 2005 claimed that “future sea level rise is likely to accelerate as a result of human-caused global warming, with changes likely in the range of 4-35 inches during the 21st century.”  Myers then showed work done in 2008 by the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, which claimed the atmospheric contribution to sea-level rises in all areas would be 6 inches by 2100.  The evidence he uses does not show an overestimation; in fact it validates the claims of the Puget Sound Action Team as 6 inches falls within their estimation of 4-35 inches. [13]
In conclusion Myers stated the unintended consequences of implementing environmental public policy outweigh the positives done by the regulation itself.  And, the last point on his power-point presentation is “David Suzuki is absurd and myopic.” [13]


The Washington Policy Center has repeatedly criticized building standards created by Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) as economically detrimental, environmentally harmful, and providing little energy savings. [22]


In the 2004 article, “A Responsible Approach to Climate Change,” the WPC said investing in climate change initiatives was an expensive and poor use of resources. [23]

They prescribed spending resources in programs designed to create wealth in the Developing World as the best way to deal with the issue of climate change and global warming. The reason, they explain, is  “wealth buffers adversity.”

Related Organizations

Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change (CSCCC)

The Washington Policy Center is a past member of the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change (CSCCC). The CSCCC describes itself as an organization designed to educate the public about the science and economics of climate change. Note that the CSCCC website is no longer online, and it is unclear if the group is still in operation. [24]

State Policy Network (SPN)

The WPC is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). The State Policy Network was formed in 1992. It's mission is to improve the effectiveness of independent, market-oriented, state-focused think tanks, so that “they can educate the general public and policy makers in every state to embrace market-friendly policies that maximize liberty and opportunity. [25]

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

The Washington Policy Center (WPC) is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). SourceWatch documents connections between the Washington Policy Center and ALEC[26]

  • Daniel Mead Smith, President, represented WPC as the ALEC state co-chair of the state of Washington as of August 2011. 
  • Carl Gipson, director of WPC's Center for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, is a member of ALEC's Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force.
  • Jason Mercier, the Director of WPC's Center for Government Reform, is a member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.
  • *Todd Myers represents WPC on ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.
  • ALEC is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN), along with the WPC.

*Todd Myers wrote a blog post for the National Center for Policy Analysis criticizing the Center for Media and Democracy's “ALEC Exposed” project in August 2011.  [27]


  1. Frequently Asked Questions,” Washington Policy  Center. Archived September 22, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6bjsSLuFo

  2. Washington Policy Center,” Charity Navigator. Accessed September, 2015.

  3. Washington Policy Center 2014 Annual Report. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  4. New Washington Institute Foundation Created,” WIPS.org. Archived June 26, 1997. *Page no longer available on Internet Archive.

  5. Washington Institute changes name,” Puget Sound Business Journal, June 21, 2001. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  6. About Washington Policy Center,” Washington Policy Center. Archived September 22, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6bjpsqUTA

  7. (Press Release). “Free Markets for Washington Research Centers Campaign Now at $3.8 Million,” Washington Policy Center, December 21, 2007. Archived September 22, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6bjtW3jkD

  8. Viewpoint: Quarterly Magazine of Washington Policy Center (PDF). Summer, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  9. Washington Policy Center: 2002 Annual Report. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  10. About Us,” Washington Policy Center. Archived February 5, 2007. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  11. John J. Miller. “Fifty Flowers Bloom,” Hey Miller, September 16, 2009. Archived September 22, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6bjuWV5sd

  12. “Chapter Three: ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY,” Washington Policy Centre, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 

  13. Todd Myers. “The Difference Between Scientists and Policymakers.” Retrieved from Heartland.org. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  14. Washington Policy Center,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed September 23, 2015.

  15. Our Staff,” Washington Policy Center. Archived September 23, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6blK5fq6J

  16. Board of Directors,” Washington Policy Center. Archived March 23, 2012.

  17. Todd Myers. “Policy Brief: Five myths of Cap-and-Trade,” Washington Policy Centre, March, 2015. Archived September 23, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6blWfxbyw

  18. Todd Myers. “Inaccurate and misleading University of Oregon study used in Governor Inslee’s climate Executive Order,” Washington Policy Centre, October, 2014. Archived September 23, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6blVzicFy

  19. Eco-Fads,” Washington Policy Centre. Archived September 23, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6blTdeZyP

  20. Todd Myers. “How the rise of trendy environmentalism is harming the planet,” The Seattle Times, September 5, 2011. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6blTf8glh

  21. Greens vs. Science: Is Climate Change Already Here? I'll Take That Bet!” Washington Policy Center. Archived September 23, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6blVRX5re

  22. Todd Myers. “Why Don't Greens Care About Global Warming?” Washington Policy Centre, March, 2007. Archived September 23, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6blMu92Gn

  23. Pete Geddes. “A Responsible Approach to Climate Change,” Washington Policy Center, September, 2004. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6blN9UvGu

  24. Members of the CSCCC,” Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change. Archived July 11, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  25. Directory,” State Policy Network. Accessed September 18, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  26. Washington Policy Center,” SourceWatch. Archived September 23, 2015. 

  27. Todd Myers. “Left-Wing Group Exposes Its Environmental Ignorance,” Energy and Environment: Clearing the Air (NCPA Blog), August 17, 2011. Archived September 23, 2015.

  28. Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement,” Mother Jones, February 5, 2013. Archived July 23, 2015.

  29. Washington Policy Center welcomes four new board members from across the state to its Board of Directors,” Washington Policy Center. Archived November 12, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6czUT4s4P

  30. Daniel Mead Smith,” Washington Policy Center. Archived November 12, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6czUe6Kla

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