A Very Small Conservative Think Tank

Apparently, it’s small enough to fit in a P.O. box (boldface mine):

Due to the [Republican healthcare] bill’s unpopularity and the opaque nature of the sausage-making process, media outlets have been starved for pundits willing to go in front of a camera or put their names on op-eds to support it. Luckily, one stand-alone pundit is willing to go to bat for the toxic piece of legislation—Avik Roy, who managed to get the most coveted media spots in the universe this past week, writing in breathless, infomercial tones on the benefits of the bill…

Avik Roy’s primary function is to be the Reasonable Conservative and lobby centrists and liberals in their own media spaces that their worries about smoke-filled backroom Republican health care plans are unwarranted. This is done with a mix of “aw, shucks” nuance trolling and warmed-over discredited claims that health care coverage does not, in fact, affect mortality…

Avik Roy and others involved with his generically named Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity have ties to far-right billionaires through the Manhattan Institute and other organizations. FREOPP itself is associated with the Koch-backed State Policy Network, but FREOPP’s website does not reveal any of its donors, nor does it share its tax number, as most nonprofits do.

This could be because FREOPP is a new corporation (it was founded in May 2016), but neither the firm nor Roy responded to multiple questions via email and Twitter about who funds the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity…

The online address for Roy’s “think tank” is for a P.O. Box inside a UPS store in Austin. The physical address on record for the state of Texas for FREOPP is Roy’s personal home in Austin.

Also unclear is whether Roy is helping write the legislation itself….

It’s romantic to think that a scrappy, startup think tank could have so much influence on the single most consequential piece of legislation in a generation, but an ounce of disclosure would be helpful. Transparency is key with all nonprofits and think tanks–why should Roy’s be any different? People have a right to know if he’s little more than a glorified lobbyist for a specific industry or billionaire or if he’s just an earnest, totally normal guy who just happens to like gutting health coverage for millions.

I’m going with glorified lobbyist. And don’t let the glorified lobbyist win: call your senators, if, unlike me, you’re lucky enough to have voting representation in the Congress.

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