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National Legal Center for the Public Interest


This is the central body of a network of (primarily) six other Scaife/Coors/Fluor funded legal foundations. The organisation actual influence extends much wider than it might seem since it provides link between the different groups and a funding channel for Republican-supporting foundations and large corporations who might want or need their support. The six major 'active' legal foundations in the primary network each extends the NLCPI influence even wider through channeling grants and payments to law-firms for lobbying work. They also provide grants to journalists, and run 'educational' publications and forums, etc.


The National Legal Center (for the Public Interest) sits at the center of this web of influence which, while focussing on the legal aspects, actually plays a much greater political role than might be expected. It serves as a clearing house for the six regional foundations which were founded and funded by the Scaif, Coors and Fluor foundations, primarily to oppose environmental activism — especially the Sierra Club, and the legalistic approach of Ralph Nader's organisations and the National Resources Defense Council.

It was established in 1975 as a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Washington, following a study commissioned by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which concluded that the most effective way to broaden the business/public-interest/legal-foundation model was to establish "an umbrella model creating a separate national coordinating entity for new PLFs in other regions." NLCPI does not litigate: their articles of incorporation state that they are to have no members and all business is to be conducted by the board of directors who are handpicked from the top echelons of American business and legal academics — plus a few PR operatives and lobbyists with impecable Republican connections.

They subsequently went on to found the New England Legal Foundation, Great Plains Legal Foundation (now Landmark Legal Foundation), and Mountain States Legal Foundation. They also serve as a center for communications and support for Atlantic, Capital, Landmark, Mid-America, Mountain States and Southestern legal centers — which they were instrumental in creating.

The organisation was set up initially by Ernest Lefever and his conservative brain trust, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Joseph Coors carries the title of Director Emeritus. and gag-writer-turned-bakery executive, Ernest Heuter, became CEO.

Philip Morris considered this one of four legal foundations that deserved special funding over the years, primarily because it would publish material for them — and it was especially active in the field of Tort Reform. ExxonMobile also kicked in the odd quarter of a million dollars, and other regular support comes from Southern Pacific Co.