Ballotpedia—officially registered under its sponsor’s name, the Lucy Burns Institute, in its 501(c)3 filings—is an online resource founded in 2007 to track elections, politicians, and ballot measures at the local, state, and federal levels. Even though the organization professes to favor transparency in government operations and budgeting, and to be “firmly committed to neutrality,” it provides limited information about itself and how it is funded—beyond asking users to trust its editorial decisions. “Our judgments about encyclopedic and journalistic content are made independently through our editorial process and not on the basis of donor support or advertising clients,” its editors write.
Ballotpedia was founded and is still led by Leslie Graves, a resident of Wisconsin with close ties to the Koch political network, the Bradley Foundation, and the effort to radically rewrite the U.S. Constitution known as the Convention of States. She delivered a keynote titled “A Post-General Election Update” at the Fall 2022 meeting of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF).
Before joining Ballotpedia, Editor-in-Chief Geoff Pallay served as a policy analyst for the free market South Carolina Policy Council, an associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN). Before joining Ballotpedia in 2018, COO Gwen Beattie worked at the right-wing media outlet Think Freely Media.
Ballotpedia produces a weekly newsletter on ESG policies that SFOF circulates to state treasurers, and published a database of asset management companies contracting with state pensions that can be utilized by state financial officers in the creation of blacklists.
- DonorsTrust: $17,304,650 (2012–22)
- Donors Capital Fund: $13,552,000 (2010–16)
- Sarah Scaife Foundation: $1,190,000 (2016–21)
- Searle Freedom Trust: $1,030,000 (2010–21)
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation: $540,400 (2014–21)
Note: Ballotpedia is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.
- Total revenue: $6,584,157
- Total expenses: $6,133,418
- Net assets: $3,960,591
Source: 2021 IRS 990 filing
For more information, visit the Ballotpedia page on SourceWatch.