Summary: The Ethan Allen Institute is a small, Vermont-based libertarian group that regularly promotes anti-science and anti-government causes. It is the state’s most vocal opponent of TCI, promoting junk studies and deceptive talking points that echo the messaging of its State Policy Network partners. In short, they do not represent the views of hardworking Vermonters.
The Ethan Allen Institute (EAI) is a right-wing organization that promotes free-market, anti-government ideology in Vermont and is backed predominantly by funders outside of the state. The small organization has a budget of less than $300,000 annually from non-local interests including Donors Capital Fund and DonorsTrust, two pass-through funds that have been called the “dark-money ATM of the conservative movement,” that mask donations from foundations controlled by Charles Koch.
The EAI is a member of the State Policy Network, a network of right wing organizations that the Koch network funds to promote junk science, climate denial, and corporate welfare.
Like other SPN organizations in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the EAI has focused much of its recent attention on the Transportation and Climate Initiative, using all of its public-facing channels–a blog, a quarterly magazine, social media feeds, and a daily web-radio program– to criticize their regional policy. The Institute’s attacks rely on a series of false claims and deceptions.
In 2020, the Ethan Allen Institute hired a right-wing consultancy to conduct a highly-biased poll that would portray TCI as unpopular in Vermont. The poll was conducted by Advantage INC, which delivered a similar poll for the Mass Fiscal Alliance in Massachusetts. Both polls relied on leading questions and false premises to deliver desired results.
Ethan Allen Institute staff also routinely cite the same Koch-funded, Beacon Hill Institute study, which has been roundly debunked, that has been used to attack TCI in Massachusetts.
With a lot less funding and a notable lack of public relations savvy, the EAI is attempting to mimic the TCI criticisms seen in other SPN participant states, however, the group has poor credibility in Vermont.