Pacific Research Institute (PRI)


The Pacific Research Institute (PRI) is a California based 501(c)3 organization founded in 1979. PRI discusses issues nationwide, but primarily focuses its work in California. It’s activities consist of publications, events, media commentary, legislative testimony, and community outreach. It promotes conservative principles such as a limited market regulations, private initiative, and limited government.

Sally Pipes has been the President and CEO of PRI since 1991. She currently serves on the advisory board of Capital Research Center, a conservative “opposition research” think tank, and serves on the State Policy Network president’s advisory council. Previously, she worked at the Fraser Institute.

PRI’s revenue ranges from $4 million to almost $7 million annually.

PRI is a member of the State Policy Network.


From 1986-2015, PRI received $1,767,800 directly from Koch charitable organizations.  Additionally, PRI has received almost $2 million from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, which reporter Andy Kroll coined the "dark money ATM’s" of the conservative Right.

From 2001-2009, PRI received $615,000 from ExxonMobil.

Related to climate change issues, PRI seeks to regulate the environment through property rights, market forces, local action, and private initiative. Dismissing any federal government environmental regulations, PRI argues that the EPA’s nationwide promotion of clean energy will exacerbate poverty, kill jobs, and create an energy crisis. PRI promotes climate change skepticism, remarking (falsely) that the climate hasn’t warmed since 1998 and that climate change models are unpredictable and thus should not be taken too seriously. PRI disputes the widely held consensus among scientists who study climate change, declaring that the debate is not over.

In 2016, Senior Fellow Wayne Winegarden wrote that the states are “better poised” to regulate fracking, without noting that there are so few regulators it is physically impossible for state officials to visit all extraction operations.

PRI was part of the 22 organizations that signed the “Coalition” open letter in defense of the Heartland Institute and its right to exercise"free speech." This was in response to the “Web of Denial” Resolution introduced by Senate Democrats calling out fossil fuel industry-funded groups that deny climate change.

Sally Pipes, President & CEO of PRI, criticized the Affordable Care Act in 2011, citing a survey that nearly two-thirds of doctors think that United States’ health care would decline if the legislation passed. Forbes contributor Rick Ungar found that Pipes incorrectly analyzed the survey.

In 2007, it was discovered that Steven Hayward, a PRI Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies, and Kenneth Green, an American Enterprise Institute scholar, were paying climate change skeptics $10,000 to speak out against the IPCC study reporting that manmade greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change.

In response to Al Gore’s 2007 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, PRI fellow Steven Hayward produced the video Inconvenient Truth...or Convenient Fiction? Hayward argues that environmental problems are exaggerated by environmentalists and over-regulated by bureaucrats. He also incorrectly states that economic growth causes environmental improvement, a relationship that is controversial among scholars and the scientific community.

PRI had significant ties with the tobacco company Philip Morris. In 1987, Philip Morris funded PRI’s project concerning tobacco advertising and the market process. In 1998, Philip Morris executive Roy Marden admitted that they were long time donors of PRI, and that PRI would be an ideal organization to ally with in its “Youth Smoking Prevention Programs”. This program was a known PR move by tobacco companies to get legislators off their backs.