John Locke Foundation

John Locke Foundation (JLF)


The John Locke Foundation was created in 1990 as an independent, nonprofit think tank working “for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.” The Foundation is funded significantly by Art Pope, who previously served on the foundation's board of directors[1][2]

A 2010 investigation by the Institute for Southern Studies found the John Locke Foundation to be one of the most outspoken climate skeptics in North Carolina, working together with other groups funded by the Koch Brothers and Art Pope. At the time of the article, Art Pope provided 80% of the organization's funding — adding up to $16.9 million from 1997 to 2008. [3]

According to their mission statement, “The John Locke Foundation employs research, journalism, and outreach programs to transform government through competition, innovation, personal freedom, and personal responsibility.” It was founded by John Hood and Marc Rotterman, treasurer of the American Conservative Union. [1][4]

John Hood describes JLF’s journalism arm as a “key milestone for the foundation,” and as a “relentless government watchdog.” He noted, “there are still many policy challenges ahead, including alarmist climate change policies, the stifling of public charter schools, the spend-and-tax habit of state and local officials, weak private property rights protections, and local government intrusion disguised as 'smart growth' policies.” [4]

In 2014, John Hood moved to a new job as president of the John William Pope Foundation while maintaining a position as chairman of JLF. Kory Swanson, previously Executive Vice President of JLF, was promoted to President and CEO in 2014. [5]

Stance on Climate Change

“Are carbon dioxide emissions linked to an industrialized world pushing the earth’s temperature to a tipping point, beyond which lies catastrophe and mayhem? If not, and the absence of any significant warming for more than 18 years suggests that the question is at least debatable, the ongoing international climate talks in Paris are unlikely to yield useful policies.” — Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. [36]
“The idea of North Carolina taking extra steps beyond what the federal government is going to call for to cut carbon emissions, the idea that that would have any impact on global warming, is ludicrous. It would not happen. All you would do is put another obstacle or road block in place in terms of industry in North Carolina for no good reason.
I think it's beyond dispute that if North Carolina took steps on its own to address global warming there would be no impact. So suing the state to take these steps is not going to have the result that this obviously committed student wants to have.”  — Mitch Kokai, senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. [37]


“While global warming is real, and human activities are one cause, it now appears that the most publicized forecasts systematically overestimate the rate of temperature rise.” [6]


“The Earth has indeed warmed during the last few decades and may warm further in the future. But the pattern of climate change is not consistent with the greenhouse effect being the main cause.” [8]


“[T]he scientific issues involved [in climate change] are complex and unsettled. […] a green house gas reduction policy would have only costs and no benefits.” [7]


The following is based on publicly-available tax data compiled by the Conservative Transparency project. Note that not all individual funding values have been verified by DeSmogBlog for accuracy.  [9]

View the attached spreadsheet for full details on John Locke Foundation's funding by year (.xlsx).

Donor Total
John William Pope Foundation $26,020,306
Donors Capital Fund $864,200
The Roe Foundation $330,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation $315,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation $169,972
Chase Foundation of Virginia $156,980
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation $80,000
State Policy Network $75,814
JM Foundation $55,000
Thomas W Smith Foundation $34,500
Searle Freedom Trust $30,000
Cato Institute $20,000
Schwab Charitable Fund $19,000
Institute for Liberty $7,500
National Christian Charitable Foundation $1,450
DonorsTrust $1,150
Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice $1,000
Brady Education Foundation $1,000
Grand Total $28,182,872

990 Forms

Philip Morris Funding

According to SourceWatch, JLF has also received funding from Philip Morris. [10], [11]

Koch Funding

Greenpeace reports that JLF received $147,472 from Koch foundations between 1997 and 2014. [12]

*Original tax forms prior to 1997 are no longer available for verification. If you add a $12,000 donation in 1995, total Koch funding increases to $159,472 since 1995[12]

Year Charles Koch Foundation Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation Grand Total
1995 $12,000 $12,000
1997 $5,000 $5,000
1999 $5,000 $5,000
2000 $5,000 $5,000
2002 $5,000 $5,000
2003 $5,000 $5,000
2004 $50,000 $50,000
2005 $10,000 $10,000
2009 $37,472 $37,472
2012 $25,000 $25,000
Grand Total $79,472 $80,000 $159,472

Key People

Board of Directors

Name 2012[2] 2015[14] 2016[33]
Andy Wells Y
Assad Meymandi Y Y
Baker A. Mitchell, Jr. Y Y Y
Bruce M. Babcock Y
Carl Mumpower Y
Charlie Carter Y Y Y
Christine Mele Y
Chuck Fuller Y Y Y
David M. Stover Y Y Y
Herb B. Berkowitz Y
J. Arthur Pope Y
J. M. Bryan Taylor Y Y Y
James S. Fulghum III Y
John Hood Y Y
Paul Slobodian Y
Robert L. Luddy Y
Thomas H. Roberg Y
William T. Graham Y Y Y


Administration 2012[45] 2015[13] 2016[32]
Kory Swanson[5] Y
Page Cox Y Y Y
Katelynd Day Y Y
Tracey McCaskill Y Y Y
Communications/Carolina Journal 2012[45] 2015[13] 2016[32]
Don Carrington Y Y Y
Jon Ham Y Y Y
Rick Henderson Y Y Y
Mitch Kokai Y Y Y
Michael Lowrey Y Y Y
Donna Martinez Y Y Y
Barry Smith Y Y
Kari Travis Y Y
Dan Way Y Y
Barry Smith and Dan Way Y Y
David N. Bass Y
Sara Burrows Y
Events & Outreach
Becki Gray Y Y Y
Paige Holland Hamp Y Y
Lindalyn Kakadelis Y Y
Troy Kickler Y Y Y
Catherine Konieczny Y Y
Zack Hasanin Y Y
Austin Pruitt Y Y
President and CEO 2012[45] 2015[13] 2016[32]
Kory Swanson Y Y
John Hood Y
Research Division 2012[16] 2015[13],[15] 2016[32]
Roy Cordato Y Y Y
Sarah Curry Y Y
Julie Gilstrap Y
Jon Guze Y Y
Katherine Restrepo Y Y
Jon Sanders Y Y Y
Research Staff Y Y
Terry Stoops Y Y Y
Julie Tisdale Y
Daren Bakst Y
Fergus Hodgson Y
Michael Sanera Y


May 9, 2019

The John Locke Foundation, represented by Kory Swanson, signed on to an open letter organized by the American Energy Alliance designed to fight against an electric vehicle tax credit. [52]

The American Energy Alliance has organized a coalition to proclaim in one unified voice that there should be no expansion of the misguided electric vehicle tax credit,” Thomas Pyle wrote in a statement, quoted at The Daily Caller. There is no question that the electric vehicle tax credit distorts the auto market to no gain.” [53]

According to Pyle and others who signed the letter, electric vehicle tax credits “overwhelmingly benefit the rich.” DeSmog's Koch vs. Clean project has systematically debunked this, among other well-rehearsed talking points and misinformation put forward by industry about electric vehicles. [53]

The letter cites research by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a group that has received over $600,000 from ExxonMobil and millions from “dark money” groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund

July 18, 2018

The John Locke Foundation, represented by Becki Gray, was among signatories of a letter supporting an anti-carbon tax resolution from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va. [49]

“We oppose any carbon tax. We oppose a carbon tax because it would lead to less income and fewer jobs for American families,” the letter read. “We support the House Concurrent Resolution in opposition to a job-killing carbon tax and urge members to co-sponsor and support this effort.” [49]

The resolution would call a carbon tax “detrimental to the United States economy.”E&E News reported it was similar to a measure that passed the House in 2016. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, co-chairman of the Climate Solutions Caucus, said he would not vote for the resolution. [50]

“Protecting our environment and economic growth are not mutually exclusive,” he said in a statement. “The resolution presents a false choice.” [50]

The Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the measure when it was first introduced. [51]

May 8, 2017

The John Locke Foundation, represented by Kory Swanson, is listed on an open letter to President Donald J. Trump urging him “to withdraw fully from the Paris Climate Treaty and to stop all taxpayer funding of UN global warming programs.” [46]

DeSmog reported that the 40 groups represented in the letter, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), The Heartland Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, have received a combined total of millions of dollars from the Koch Brothers, ExxonMobil, and other industry groups. [47]

Analysis also showed that the groups accepted about $80 million through Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, two groups that have been confirmed is a key financial source for key U.S-based climate change denial groups. [48]

July 12, 2016

The John Locke Foundation (JLF), represented by Kory Swanson, was among 22 groups represented in a “Coalition” open letter pushing back against what the Heartland Institute describes as an “affront to free speech.” The groups are responding to the recent Web of Denial Resolution brought up in the Senate, calling out fossil fuel industry-funded groups denying climate change. [41]

According to the Climate Investigations Center, all but one of the open letter's signatory organizations have taken money (totalling at least $92 million since 1997) from the “climate denial web” including Koch Brothers' various foundations, ExxonMobil, and two “Dark Money” organizations, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. [44]

Championed by Senators Whitehouse, Markey, Schatz, Boxer, Merkley, Warren, Sanders, and Franken, the resolution condemns what they are calling the #WebOfDenial — “interconnected groups – funded by the Koch brothers, major fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal, identity-scrubbing groups like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, and their allies – developed and executed a massive campaign to deceive the public about climate change to halt climate action and protect their bottom lines.” [42]

The open letter addresses the senators, calling them “tyrants”: 

“We hear you. Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeing with you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny. And, we reject it.” [43]

The full list of signatories and their respective organizations is as follows:

June 13, 2016

The John Locke Foundation released a “spotlight” report describing gas-fired power plants as  “far more efficient and far less expensive than solar and wind plants.” [40]

According to the study, “the process of hydraulic fracturing is intrinsically safe.” It also contends that natural gas exploration has a lower impact on the land than renewables, as “Wind and solar plants, by contrast, require enormous amounts of land.”  [40]

“Compared with solar and wind plants, natural gas is many times over more efficient and reliable. It also uses considerably less land and with much less disruption of natural ecosystems than solar and wind plants,” the study concludes.  [40]

February 23, 2016

The John Locke Foundation released a report, written by Todd Myers, which claims that green schools in North Carolina “fall short of their promises to protect the environment through lower energy costs and increased efficiency.” [38]

July 7 - 9, 2015

The John Locke Foundation (JLF) was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, DC. [17] 

August, 2014

The John Locke Foundation (JLF) released a pro-fracking report titled “Facts on Fracking: Addressing concerns over hydraulic fracturing coming to North Carolina” (PDF), authored by JLF's Director or Regulatory Studies, Jon Sanders.

The JLF report concludes that fracking is “a well-tested source of new jobs and revenue” and is “more controversial than it ought to be.”  [18]
For a contrasting viewpoint, you can read DeSmogBlog's own report on hydraulic fracturing titled “Fracking the Future.”

June, 2014

The John Locke Foundation (JLF) released “Agenda 2014,” a “public policy guide for candidates and voters.” JLF has released its Agenda document every two years since 2006 to coincide with North Carolina's races for the General Assembly. [19]

JLF's Agenda 2014 includes a section on “Renewable Energy” that recommends that the Senate repeal Bill 3, “the overarching legislation that contains the renewable energy mandate or, at the very least, repeal that portion of the bill that contains the 12.5% renewable energy/energy efficiency mandate.” The Renewable Energy section is edited by Roy Cordato, whose primary educational background is in music and economics. [20]

This isn't the first time that JLF's Agenda report has fought against renewable energy. Its 2010 report included a section on climate change concluding that “There is nothing North Carolina can do, either by itself or in conjunction with other states, that will have a noticeable or beneficial impact on the climate.” Their 2010 report also offered the following recommendations to policy makers: [21]

  1. Abandon all state attempts to fight global warming.
  2. Repeal already adopted legislation such as SB3, which is raising energy costs and reducing employment opportunities in the state, which is already suffering from one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

May 21 - 23, 2012

The John Locke Foundation is listed as an official co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [22]


The John Locke Foundation's Daren Bakst, of their Research Division, gave a presentation to the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at ALEC's 2010 annual meeting. Bakst's presentation was titled “The Limits of EPA Regulatory Power.” [10]

May 16 - 18, 2010

The John Locke Foundation (JLF) was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4) in Chicago, IL. [23]

DeSmogBlog researched sponsors behind the conference hand found that 19 of 65 sponsors had received total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil, and/or Koch Industries family foundations, and/or the Scaife Family Foundations. [24]

March 8 - 9, 2009

The John Locke Foundation is listed as an official co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Second International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2). [25]

March, 2008

The John Locke Foundation was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's First International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1) in New York. [34], [35]

September, 2007

The John Locke Foundation was behind an effort to combat the Center for Climate Strategies, a nonprofit group in Washington trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Institute for Southern Studies reports.

One of the Locke Institute's criticisms is that the Center for Climate Strategies was founded by an “environmental advocacy group.” The Institute for Southern Studies writes that The Pennsylvania Environmental Council is actually “a business-friendly organization […] whose current directors include representatives from leading energy companies like PPL Corp., Inter-Power, Exelon and Reliant.” [29]

The JLF worked with the Heartland Institute to host a conference where it promised to expose the Center for Climate Strategies's “hijacking of climate policy.” [29]

The Sept. 12 conference call drew state legislators, policy analysts, and a lobbyist for Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company. The featured speaker was Michael Sanera, Locke's research director and a member of an advisory board for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow as well as a former analyst at the Heritage Foundation — both funded by ExxonMobil. [29]

In October, the John Locke Foundation announced the launch of “Climate Strategies Watch,” “a new watchdog Web site that scrutinizes and keeps up with new developments of the Center for Climate Strategies.” It was also a joint project of the Heartland Institute and JLF. Climate Strategies Watch no longer appears to be in operation. [29], [30], [31]

July, 2007

The John Locke Foundation released a report authored by Joel Schwartz of the American Enterprise Institute titled, “A North Carolina Citizen's Guide to Global Warming.” [26]

In the report (PDF), which recants many of the popular skeptical arguments regarding climate change, Schwartz claims that [Al] “Gore's brand of over-the-top climate hysteria has nothing to do with reality,” and that “Most of the greenhouse effect is natural and is due to water vapor naturally in the atmosphere, as well as natural levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and a few other greenhouse gases.” [27]

John Locke Foundation Contact & Location

The John Locke Foundation listed the following contact information in its website as of May, 2016: [39]

John Locke Foundation
200 West Morgan Street, Suite 200
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601
Phone: 919-828-3876
Fax: 919-821-5117

Related Organizations

JLF Websites and Blogs” include:


  1. About the John Locke Foundation,” John Locke Foundation. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  2. John Locke Foundation Board of Directors,” John Locke Foundation. Archived March 1, 2012. URL

  3. Sue Sturgis. “A Pope of climate denial,” FacingSouth, December 26, 2010. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  4. A 20-Year Legacy: Fighting for Freedom, Truth, Responsibility,” John Locke Foundation. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  5. (Press Release). “JLF promotes Swanson to president and CEO as 25th anniversary approaches,” John Locke Foundation, November 20, 2014. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  6. Patrick Michaels. “High Tide for Hype on the OBX: Apocalyptic predictions miss the mark on North Carolina sea levels,” John Locke Foundation, September 26, 2012. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  7. Global Warming Policy: NC Should Do Nothing” (PDF), No. 253— April 12, 2005. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  8. “A North Carolina Citizen’s Guide to Global Warming” (PDF), John Locke Foundation Policy Report, July, 2007. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  9. John Locke Foundation,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed November 14, 2015.

  10. John Locke Foundation,” SourceWatch profile. URL


  12. John Locke Foundation (JLF): Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace USA. Archived March 14, 2017. URL:

  13. John Locke Staff, Fellows, & Scholars,” John Locke Foundation. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  14. John Locke Foundation Board of Directors,” John Locke Foundation. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  15. Research,” John Locke Foundation. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  16. Research,” John Locke Foundation. Archived March 1, 2012. URL

  17. Sponsors,” ICCC10. Archived July 15, 2015. URL

  18. Jon Sanders. “Facts on Fracking Addressing concerns over hydraulic fracturing coming to North Carolina” (PDF), John Locke Foundation, August, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DesMogBlog.

  19. Agenda 2014: A Candidate's Guide to Key Issues in North Carolina Public Policy,” John Locke Foundation. Accessed November 14, 2015. URL

  20. Agenda 2014: Renewable Energy,” John Locke Foundation. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  21. Agenda 2010: Climate Change,” John Locke Foundation. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  22. Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on Climate Change. Archived May 10, 2012. URL

  23. 4th International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF), The Heartland Institute. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  24. Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries,” DeSmogBog, May 13, 2010.

  25. Co-Sponsors,” The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change. Archived April 28, 2011. URL

  26. Policy Reports: A North Carolina Citizen's Guide to Global Warming,” John Locke Foundation website, July 25, 2007. Archived November 14, 2015. URL

  27. Joel Schwartz, “Policy Reports: A North Carolina Citizen's Guide to Global Warming” (PDF), John Locke Foundation, July 2007. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 

  28. NSA NATIONAL BOARD OF ADVISORS. 1994 June 30. Philip Morris. Bates Number : 2047870829-2047870832.

  29. Sue Sturgis. “SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Who's behind the attack on state climate policy?” The Institute for Southern Studies, November 13, 2007. Archived April 21, 2016. URL

  30. Climate Strategies Watch,” Archived March 2, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. URL

  31. Who is CCS?” Climate Strategies Watch. Archived March 2, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. URL

  32. John Locke Staff, Fellows, & Scholars,” John Locke Foundation. Archived April 22, 2016. URL

  33. John Locke Foundation Board of Directors,” John Locke Foundation. Archived April 22, 2016. URL

  34. The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change: Global Warming is not a crisis! (PDF), Archived July 25, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 

  35. Sponsorships,” The 2008 International Conference on climate Change. Archived June 10, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. URL

  36. Exposing Questionable Claims About Inequality,” Carolina Journal, December 4, 2015. Archived April 22, 2016. URL

  37. 13-YEAR-OLD FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST NORTH CAROLINA OVER CLIMATE CHANGE,”abc11 eyewitness news, November 13, 2015. Archived April 22, 2016. URL

  38. Todd Myers. “Certified ‘Green’ Schools: Savings & Benefits Fail To Materialize In North Carolina,” John Locke Foundation, February 23, 2016. Archived April 22, 2016. URL

  39. Contact Us,” John Locke Foundation. Archived May 29, 2016. URL

  40. Spotlight 476: Natural Gas,” John Locke Foundation, June 13, 2016. Full study available at Scribd. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  41. Jim Lakely. “#WebOfDenial Push by Senate Dems Exposes Their Hatred of Free Speech,” Somewhat Reasonable (Heartland Institute Blog), July 12, 2016. Archived July 14, 2016. URL

  42. Brendan Demelle. “Senators Launch Resolution, Speech Blitz Calling Out #WebOfDenial Blocking Climate Action, DeSmog, July 11, 2016. 

  43. Coalition Letter to Senate Web of Denial Resolution (PDF). Retrieved from the Heartland Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSMogBlog.

  44. Cindy Baxter. “Front Groups Attacking #WebofDenial Senate Action Took Over $92M in Dark, Dirty Money,” Desmog, July 14, 2016. Originally posted at Climate Investigations Center.

  45. John Locke Staff, Fellows, & Scholars,” Archived July 21, 2012. URL

  46. “Dear Mr. President” (PDF), retrieved from Competitive Enterprise Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  47. Graham Readfearn. “Conservative Groups Pushing Trump To Exit Paris Climate Deal Have Taken Millions From Koch Brothers, Exxon,” DeSmog, May 10, 2017.

  48. Susanne Goldberg. “Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change,” The Guardian, December 20, 2013. Archived May 12, 2017. URL

  49. 41 Conservative Groups Support Scalise/McKinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution,” Americans for Tax Reform, July 18, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  50. Nick Sobczyk. “House voting on anti-carbon-tax measure: 'Pass the popcorn',” E&E News, July 16, 2018. Archived Aug 2, 2018. URL:

  51. Teaching opportunities from House Concurrent Resolution 119 (H.Con.Res.119)” (PDF), Citizens' Climate Lobby, April 30, 2018.

  52. Dear Senator Grassley, Senator Wyden, Representative Neal and Representative Brady:” May 9, 2019. Retrieved from The Daily Caller.


Other Resources