Republican-led states say they will not partner with a self-proclaimed "nonpartisan" health policy group that works to shape state policy after the Washington Free Beacon reported that the group pushes left-wing policies, including "health equity" and "antiracism" training.
The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), a Maine-based nonprofit that claims to be an independent state policymaker group working on "advancing health policy innovations," has increasingly aligned itself with the Democratic Party and pushes states to enact liberal policies.
Mississippi governor Tate Reeves (R.) told the Free Beacon that NASHP can no longer be "taken seriously" after reports that during a September 2022 conference, the group pushed states to invest in "equity" programs such as bias training, race-based hiring, and rationing of resources based on race.
"It becomes incredibly difficult for groups like the NASHP and other organizations to be trusted, taken seriously, and believed to be credible when they become steeped in politics and often focus more on progressive activism than the actual promotion of subject matter expertise," Reeves said.
NASHP was also an influential supporter of extending Obamacare subsidies. Democrats pointed to NASHP as an unbiased source despite the group's deep ties to their party, including millions of dollars in dark money funding from liberal groups and a revolving door with Democratic campaigns and offices.
Both Mississippi and another solidly conservative state, Arkansas, say they have no interest in working with the group.
Alexa Henning, the communications director for Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R.), said the state "has no affiliation with this group and doesn't plan on participating in any of its events" in the future.
"We are not interested in collaborating with any left-wing groups that operate with a false veneer of objectivity," Hunter Estes, the communications director for Reeves, said.
Virginia attorney general Jason Miyares (R.) last year told the Free Beacon that the group can't be trusted as a nonpartisan source of information.
"It's disturbing to see the National Academy for State Health Policy, which claims to be nonpartisan, embrace a partisan liberal agenda," Miyares said. "States should closely examine NASHP's rhetoric and activities and not embrace more division and divisiveness, particularly around public health."
When asked for comment, NASHP said its "work is guided" by members who are "both Republican and Democratic state leaders."
"NASHP is a nonpartisan organization that has a long history of almost 40 years working with state leaders from all 50 states and D.C.," the group said.
NASHP's partisanship is deeper than just policy proposals. Employees of the group donate nearly exclusively to Democrats: More than 96 percent of donations by individuals listing the group as their employer went to Democrats. Trish Riley, who has led the group for much of the past four decades, has donated more than $50,000 exclusively to Democratic candidates since 1992, according to documents reviewed by the Free Beacon. Riley has been described in local outlets as a "veteran party activist."
Liberal dark money groups fill the group's coffers. Arnold Ventures, which funds liberal campaigns and advocacy groups, since 2016 has donated almost $8 million to NASHP's "Center for Health Policy Development." NASHP takes this funding and then pays it to partisan organizations like Avenue Solutions, which received $654,000. Avenue Solutions is a lobbying firm that refers to itself as an "all-female, all-Democratic firm."
NASHP is also a revolving door for activists between jobs with the Democratic Party. Several staffers have worked for former Democratic governors Ralph Northam (Va.), Terry McAuliffe (Va.), and John Baldacci (Maine). Other employees have moved on to the liberal think tank Center for American Progress and to NARAL Pro-Choice America.
NASHP's activities are the latest example of left-wing advocates using nonprofit policy groups to push ideologies on state governments. In May 2022, a group called Accountable Tech, which poses as a "small nonprofit taking on Big Tech companies," ran ads attacking Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter. Another group, Opportunity Wisconsin, ran ads attacking Republican senator Ron Johnson (Wis.). Neither group actually existed, however; they were trademarked names under the North Fund, a dark money group that pushes leftist causes on states.