Pacific Research Institute

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Pacific Research Institute(PRI)'s mission is a free-market think tank whose roots lie in the formation of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. In 1979, Anthony Fisher, the founder of IEA teamed with San Francisco businessman James North to establish the Pacific Research Institute.[1] At least one of the staff is ex-IEA. According to Rachel Maddow the PRI is 'a famous pro-tobacco ostensibly grassroots corporate front group that was funded by Philip Morris'.[2]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

PRI's Director of Health Care Studies, John R. Graham, spoke at a Workshop at the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Meeting. The Workshop was titled, "Rationing By Any Other Name: Medicare's Independent Payment Advisory Board." According to his biography on the PRI webpage, he is also a "Senior Fellow of the National Center for Policy Analysis, Adjunct Scholar of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and member of the Board of Visitors of the Benjamin Rush Society of medical students and physicians."[3] ALEC, Pacific Research Institute, the National Center for Policy Analysis, and the Macinac Center are all members of the State Policy Network, which was one of the sponsors of 2011 ALEC Annual meeting.[4][5]

The Pacific Research Institute also has ties to several ALEC "task forces," including the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force, the Health and Human Services Task Force, the Education Task Force, and the Civil Justice Task Force.

John Clemens, former research director, is listed as private sector member of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force representing PRI at the 2010 Spring Task Force Summit and John Graham was listed as a speaker/advisor at that same meeting.[6] Graham gave a report titled, “What ObamaCare Means for State Budgets.”

John Graham has also represented PRI on the Health and Human Services Task Force. He gave a presentation on his book Medical Tort: Ranking in the 50 States to the task force at the 2010 Annual Meeting.[7]

Vicki Murray, former Education Studies Senior Policy Fellow, is a member of the Education Task Force. At the ALEC 2010 States and Nation Policy Summit she presented “10 Questions State Legislators Should Ask About Higher Education.” [8]

Lawrence McQuillan, Director of Business and Economic Studies, has participated in the Civil Justice Task Force. He was part of a presentation on ranking state tort systems, the “2010 Tort Liability Index,” during the 2010 Annual Meeting.[9]

PRI and the tobacco industry

In February 1987 Philip Morris executive Roy E. Marden sent a memo to other PM staff following a discussion with the then PRI President Chip Mellor "concerning their project on advertising and the market process." Marden noted the project was partially funded by Philip Morris."[10]

In 1998 Philip Morris was canvassing possible organizations that might be an ally in its Youth Smoking Prevention programs. A memo from Roy Marden described the Pacific Research Institute as "I am vice chairman of this SF policy group. They have recently begun an effort on child development/reduction of welfare dependency/etc., & I could explore with them if/where YSP could be involved. We are long-time donors."[11]


PRI and Healthcare

PRI head Sally Pipes, a Canadian residing in the United States, frequently speaks and writes against universal health care. Her bio lists as healthcare topics she had addressed "the false promise of a single-payer system as exists in Canada, pharmaceutical pricing, solving the problem of the uninsured, and strategies for consumer-driven health care." She also authored a 2004 book titled Miracle Cure: How to Solve America’s Health Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn’t the Answer. [2]

On the FOX News show "The O'Reilly Factor" on January 10, 2007, Pipes spoke against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to provide all state residents with healthcare. She warned that, '[I]f we provide health insurance, just like we provide welfare and education for illegal aliens, think about people that are illegal in other states. We're going to get a huge influx of illegal immigrants into California. And that's going to make it even more expensive [than the current system]'[12]

On December 26, 2011 Pipes posted the article "Doctors Say Obamacare is No Remedy for US Health Woes," to Forbes. In the article Pipes claims that nearly two-thirds of doctors expect the quality of care in this country to decline. Pipes cites the a recent survey done by the consulting giant Deloitte as evidence to her claims, but does not include the survey in her article. [13] Forbes contributor Rick Ungar responded to Pipes with the article "Koch Brothers Financed 'Research' Institute Steps Up Misleading Obamacare Attacks," in which Unger finds that Pipes incorrectly analyzed the survey results. [14]

PRI and Water Policy

PRI is based out of California, and has been involved in the water policy debate in that state. A publication released by PRI in December of 2008 suggested that the "problem for California is not lack of [water] supply but uneven distribution." PRI criticized California's current plan for facilitating distribution, which was based on state funded water projects. Instead, PRI suggested that distribution would be more properly managed through water markets, with consumers paying for water as any other consumable good. [15]


The Institute has received some $4,676,800 in 88 grants since 1985, from the following 10 foundations:[16]

It has received funding from Philip Morris. In 1998, a memo from Philip Morris’ Roy Marden was exploring “allies” for their Youth Smoking Programme (YSP). He wrote “I am vice chairman of this SF policy group. They have recently begun an effort on child development/reduction of welfare dependency/etc., & I could explore with them if/where YSP could be involved. We are long-time donors".[18]



  • Sonia Arrison - Director, Technology Studies - a regular columnist for Tech Central

Board of Directors

As of 2013[20]:

Former Board Members

  • F. Christian Wignall, former Vice Chairman, Capstan, LLC
  • Katherine E. Boyd, Interior Designer
  • James B. Hawkins, President & CEO, Natus Medical, Inc.
  • Christine Hughes
  • Nersi Nazari, Pacific General Ventures, The Hasbun Nazari Charitable Trust
  • Daniel Oliver, Chairman Emeritus
  • Jean R. Wente, Wente Vineyards

Emeritus Board Members

Board of Trustees

PRI Fellows

Terry Anderson, Ph.D. - Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies, PERC and Montana State University.



  2. Rachel Maddow, The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC, 18-November-2009, 9PM EST
  3. John R. Graham Pacific Research Institute. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
  4. [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors and Workshops, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]
  5. Directory, State Policy Network. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
  6. American Legislative Exchange Council, Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force meeting agenda and materials, July 1, 2010, on file with CMD
  7. American Legislative Exchange Council, Health and Human Services Task Force meeting agenda and materials, October 27, 2010, on file with CMD
  8. American Legislative Exchange Council, Education Task Force meeting agenda and materials, March 31, 2011, on file with CMD
  9. American Legislative Exchange Council, Civil Justice Task Force meeting agenda and materials, July 1, 2010, on file with CMD
  10. R.E. Marden, Philip Morris Pacific Research Institute/Advertising Project Memorandum. 1 pp. February 26, 1987. Philip Morris Bates No.2023646840
  11. Roy Marden YSP ally possibilities Email to Tina Walls. October 22, 1998. Bates No. 2069615360
  12. [1]
  13. Sally Pipes Doctors Say Obamacare is No Remedy for US Health Woes, Forbes, December 26, 2011
  14. Rick Ungar Koch Brothers Financed Research Institute Steps Up Obamacare Attacks, Forbes, December 27, 2011
  15. "Why Water Markets Should be Part of the Vision for the Delta and all of California" Pacific Research Institute Publication, December 2008.
  17. Kiersten Marek, Meet the Funders Gunning to Kill Obamacare, Inside Philanthropy, 9 February 2015, accessed 27 April 2015
  20. Pacific Research Institute, "Board of Directors", organizational website, accessed January 2013.