Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction

Illinois Policy Institute
FounderGreg Blankenship
John Tillman
Revenue (2016)
$6.59 million[1]
Expenses (2016)$6.9 million[1]

The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a libertarian nonprofit think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield. Founded in 2002, it is active in the areas of education policy, pension policy, and state budget issues.[2] IPI advocates for smaller government and lower taxes.[3][4] It has an affiliated lobbying arm and legal arm.[3] IPI is a member of the State Policy Network, a consortium of free-market think tanks in the U.S.[5]


Originally founded by Greg Blankenship, John Tillman relaunched the organization in 2007. The organization expanded its work and influence after Tillman took over.[6] IPI raised $341,000 in 2007 and $6.4 million in 2016.[7] In 2018, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that "Its studies and opinion pieces on cutting government spending and boosting transparency became must-read material to many Republicans, some Democrats — and the governor of Illinois."[7] IPI was described by ProPublica Illinois as "arguably the most influential conservative organization in the state."[8] The Chicago Sun-Times described the group as "leading a crusade against government regulations, state spending and labor unions in Illinois."[9]

IPI formerly operated the Illinois News Network, transferring ownership of that entity to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity in January 2018. IPI has received financial support from charitable foundations associated with the Koch, Mercer, Uihlein, and Rauner families.[10]


The group worked closely with former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican and past donor to IPI,[11] during the first several years of his gubernatorial tenure.[12][13] However, Rauner's relationship with IPI deteriorated[14] in part due to an article by ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Sun-Times which reported that IPI's leadership had "moved millions of dollars around five interconnected nonprofits they run, steering money to for-profit ventures in which they have a stake."[7][dead link][6] Tilllman denied any wrongdoing, saying "Obviously, these are all fully disclosed transactions, all at fair market value as they should be."[15]

Following the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, plaintiff Mark Janus left his job with the state of Illinois to become a senior fellow at IPI, which had helped fund his case.[16][17]


  1. ^ a b "Illinois Policy Institute". Nonprofit Explorer. ProPublica. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  2. ^ Wells, Rachel (July 22, 2010). "Conservative think tank to Illinois: Turn Right". Illinois Times. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b Arnold, Tony (July 24, 2017). "A Closer Look At The Group That Could Inform Rauner's Agenda". National Public Radio. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  4. ^ Dietrich, Matt (August 7, 2017). "Chicago soda tax throws a batting practice fastball to Illinois Policy Institute". PolitiFact Illinois. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  5. ^ Korecki, Natasha (April 30, 2018). "New Illinois news site designed to counter Breitbart, IPI". Politico. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  6. ^ a b Mick Dumke, Tina Sfondeles (2018-02-08). "As Conservative Group Grows In Influence, Financial Dealings Enrich Its Leaders". ProPublica. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  7. ^ a b c Dumke, Mick; Sfondeles, Tina (February 11, 2018). "Small-government think tank yields big bucks for nonprofit's leaders". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  8. ^ Dumke, Mick. "Amid Affordable Housing Dispute, Conservatives Seek a Home in Chicago". ProPublica. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  9. ^ Dumke, Mick; Mihalopoulos, Dan (February 7, 2018). "'Independent' city watchdog Khan's secret backer? Right-wing policy group". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2018-01-18. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  10. ^ Mihalopoulos, Mick Dumke,Dan. "'Independent' Watchdog's Secret Funder: Conservative Small-Government Group". ProPublica. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  11. ^ Schoenburg, Bernard (November 7, 2013). "Illinois Policy Institute got half million from Rauner". State Journal-Register. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  12. ^ Miller, Rich (November 30, 2018). "Will J.B. Pritzker spark a new fire at conservative Illinois Policy Institute?". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  13. ^ Hinz, Greg (October 17, 2018). "Pritzker opens the door to tax attack—and Rauner allies walk right in". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  14. ^ Geiger, Kim (February 8, 2018). "Rauner won't give 'another nickel' to former ally Illinois Policy Institute". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  15. ^ Sfondeles, Mick Dumke,Tina. "Congressman Calls For Investigation Of Conservative Think Tank". ProPublica. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  16. ^ Pearson, Rick. "State employee in major union-undermining Supreme Court case will join conservative think tank, tour the country". Chicago Tribune.
  17. ^ Armentrout, Mitchell (20 July 2018). "Mark Janus quits state job for conservative think tank gig after landmark ruling". Chicago Sun Times.

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