OPINION: Who does the Cascade Policy Institute really represent?

White man

You frequently publish opinion pieces from the Cascade Policy Institute. The latest, written by its chairman and chief executive officer John A. Charles, repeats once again their opposition to public transportation and Portland metro area light rail in particular.

Portland-based Cascade Policy Institute and dozens of like-minded think tanks around the country receive major funding from secretive national donors to push a conservative agenda. John A. Charles, who wrote the piece you published, was paid $153,000 in 2022 and has been quoted as saying most of Cascade’s funding comes from in-state contributors, but they are not listed, so we don’t know if he’s telling the truth. He refuses to discuss whether his group has received money from Donors Capital Fund, another secretive funding organization, saying, “I respect the privacy of our donors.”

Among others he has ties to is the Heritage Foundation. The Koch Bros are there, too. ALEC is a source for policy they support. These are corporate big money entities. Cascade shows just under a million dollars in assets.

These views you publish from Cascade are not local readers’ opinions at all.

My question is: Why is such a source of opinion used without some warning to your readers? In fact, why do you publish their missives at all?

I would urge you to send one of your excellent reporters to investigate the Cascade Policy Institute and tell their story.

Light rail trains in Portland reduce carbon dioxide emissions and unclog roads. They establish neighborhoods and business districts and the utility services that accompany such use. They allow for land use planning. They also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which I would offer explains Cascade’s true motivation for sharing their view on our trains.

Cascade’s agenda includes opposition to both tobacco taxes (another of their contributors, I would assume) and taxpayer-financed political campaigns (it’s cheaper to run candidates when well-meaning citizens simply can’t afford to run for office).

I would offer what they write is all about big corporate money. The Cascade Policy Institute does not write about the desirability of mass transit. They write about fossil fuel industry profits. Buyer beware.

I feel you owe your readers that information, assuming you choose to continue to publish their missives.

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