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Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation. Help expose the truth about the tobacco industry.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI) is an industry-funded organization which advocates lower taxes and less regulation.

It also works on education 'reform' and against teachers unions, immigration policy, environmental issues and projects on China, Cuba, Africa and Switzerland. It has defended the interests of the tobacco industry and works on the International Monetary Fund. More recently it has made a name for itself defending the interests of proprietary software companies and criticising open-source software.

AdTI is a part of the stable of conservative think tanks with their commentary regularly posted on the websites of the Cato Institute, Heartland Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Science and Environmental Policy Project and other websites.



The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution was founded in 1988 in Redwood City, CA. The first corporate board was formed in 1989 by Robert Severns, Eugene Ravizza and Bruce Thompson. AdTI claims that they "follow the principles of Tocqueville himself...among these liberal ideas are civil liberty, political equality, and economic freedom and opportunity".

On older pages on their web site they wrote ".. Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, a non-profit public research foundation with offices in Virginia and California" [1] but they haven't had any activities in California for a long time.

On AdTI's 990 for the year 2001 the address was 10 Benning Street # 151, West Lebanon, NH 03784. Earlier 990 forms had 1611 N. Kent Street room 901, Arlington, VA 22209. Old pages of the Emerging Markets Group had almost the same address: 1611 North Kent Street #901-b, Arlington, VA 22209 [2]. On the other hand, the address in West Lebanon can also be found on the 990 form for 2002 of the Ernest Martin Hopkins Institute and in 2003 was shown on the web site of the Democratic Century Fund [3] which is managed by the Emerging Markets Group.


Philip Morris and the Tobacco Institute

Working closely with Philip Morris, they issued studies arguing that the EPA's regulations (including those of cigarette smoke) were scientifically unsound, overly-burdensome, and unnecessary.

Facing a cigarette tax increase as part of the Clinton healthcare plan, they organized an astroturf campaign to misleadingly attack it, charging Morris $60,000 for the work. [4]

AdTi sought work from, and received financial support from the tobacco industry. A 1995 Tobacco Institute budget shows a donation of $20,000 slated for AdTI. A 1998 Tobacco Institute PUblic Affairs budget shows $10,000 in support slated for AdTI.[1][2][3]


Heavily funded by Microsoft [5][6], they have engaged in a number of campaigns to suggest Open Source Software, and Linux in particular, is dangerous, insecure, and illegal.

In 2004, the institute announced a book claiming Linus Torvalds did not invent Linux. The book's pre-publication draft was widely discredited, eventually leading the AdTI to abandon its plan to officially publish the book. The critique led Roland Smith to give the institute the nickname "the think tank that didn't", a nickname that was then gleefully picked up by others in the Linux community. While conceding they did fund the institute, Microsoft refused to comment on whether they specifically funded the book.


AdTI is very secretive about their income sources, refusing to divulge any funders, but we do know about some grants they have received.

Between 1988 and 2002, AdTI has received $1,723,900 (unadjusted for inflation) from conservative foundations [7], namely Bradley, Olin, Scaife, the Philip M. McKenna Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation (a Koch Family Foundations).

Projects funded by these foundations include:

  • Bradley grants “to support education-reform research and activities”;
  • the “Teacher Choice Project”;
  • $50,000 to “support research on teacher unions and education reform” (Bradley, 2000)
  • $168,750 “to support research and writing on new tactics of U.S. progressive movement in the Post-Cold War era” (Bradley and Olin, 1998)
  • $30,000 for “the Action Plan for Defense Privatization, conducted by the Committee for the Common Defense” (Olin, 1995-1996)
  • $5,000 to “support promotion for The Democratic Century, a book by Gregory Fossedal” (Olin, 1998)

Conservative think-tank Capital Research Center reports funding by Fannie Mae, AT&T Foundation, and Amoco Foundation. [8] [9] contains a number of searchable documents produced as a result of the settlement of court actions that link AdTI to Lorillard and Phillip Morris corporations. AdTI is linked to Dr. S. Fred Singer in the tobacco documents [10], the Cooler Heads Coalition [11], Consumer Alert [12], Heartland Institute [13] [14] and the Competitive Enterprise Institute [15] [16] [17].

See also: AdTI-Funding.


Staff and Associates
Name Title
Mike Gravel Chairman
Ken Brown President
Christopher Cox Co-Chairman
AdTI Board of Advisors
John Norquist Co-Chairman
AdTI Board of Advisors
Gordon Macklin Co-Chairman
Market History Research Program
Robert Toricelli Co-Chairman
IMF Assessment Project
Gregory Fossedal Senior Fellow
Donald Payne Co-Chairman
Opportunity Africa
Alveda King Senior Fellow
Education Policy and Civil Rights
Becky Norton Dunlop Director, Democracy and the Environment Research Program
David Kirkpatrick Fellow, Education Policy
Dan Evans Teacher Choice Fellow
Don Koniezco Teacher Choice Fellow
Marilyn Ketter Rittmeyer Teacher Choice Fellow
Sahir Zuberi Webmaster


Contact details

345 E. 18th St. # 220
New York, NY 10003

AdTI Programs

Most of the following AdTI programs are now defunct:

External links

  • Michelle Delio, "Did MS Pay for Open-Source Scare?", Wired, June 5, 2002.
  • David F. Skoll, "Opening the Open-Source Debate", The Age, June 10 2002.
  •, "Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Reply to ADTI" , May 22 2004
  • "Alexis de Tocqueville Institution", Wikipedia.
  • Matthew Broersma, "Think-tank report lays into Linux", Techworld, March 23, 2005.
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