Sutherland Institute

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Sutherland Institute
Sutherland Institute logo.jpg
Formation1995; 24 years ago (1995)[1]
FounderGaylord K. Swim
TypePublic policy think tank
Legal status501(c)(3) think tank
HeadquartersGateway Tower West, 15 West South Temple, S-200
Rick B. Larsen
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$2,114,604[1]
Employees (2014)
Volunteers (2014)

Sutherland Institute is a conservative public policy think tank located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Institute was founded in 1995 by Utah businessman and philanthropist Gaylord K. Swim. The Sutherland Institute believes that families, private initiatives, voluntary associations, churches and businesses are better than the government at solving problems.[2]


George Sutherland, the Institute's namesake

The Sutherland Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization, which is the IRS tax designation for a non-profit that is eligible for tax-deductible donations. According to the Institute's website, Sutherland does not perform contract work or accept government grants.

The Institute's name is derived from George Sutherland, the first Utahn to serve on the US Supreme Court. Sutherland also served as a United States Senator prior to being appointed to the bench in 1922. The Sutherland Institute was founded in 1995 by Gaylord K. Swim. Swim was a noted Utah businessman and philanthropist. He died in 2005.[3]

Rick B. Larsen serves as President and CEO of the Institute. Prior presidents include Paul Mero who served from 2000 until 2014, when he stepped down at the board's request.[4] He was replaced by Stanford Swim, son of founder Gaylord Swim, as Interim President. In March 2016, Boyd Matheson, a former chief of staff for US Senator Mike Lee, was appointed president of the think tank [5] until he stepped down in January 2018 for a position at Deseret News and Larsen (then Vice President of Development) was appointed by the board.

In 2016, the Institute had fifteen staffers and a $3 million annual budget.[6]


The Sutherland Institute was founded in 1995 by Gaylord Swim (1948 – 2005) who was its "primary benefactor".[2]

Policy positions[edit]

Economic policy

The Institute's policy research on Utah's economy has focused on issues such as health care and property tax reform.[7][8] The Institute has advocated for increased charity health care as a method to provide health services for the uninsured (in place of government welfare or assistance programs).[9]

Education policy

Sutherland has advocated for greater educational freedom and less reliance on public schools.[10] In March 2007, Utah became the first state to pass a universal school voucher law. The voucher law, which was supported by the Institute, was overturned by referendum vote in November 2007. During the run-up to the referendum election, Sutherland issued a publication that presented the Institute's view on the history of education in Utah. Sutherland released a subsequent companion article in a peer-reviewed law journal as part of an academic conference about school choice.[11][12]

Sutherland's then-president Paul Mero collaborated with Daniel Witte, Sutherland's lead attorney, to publish a book titled Removing Classrooms from the Battlefield: Liberty, Paternalism, and the Redemptive Promise of Educational Choice, which focuses on the historical evolution of the Parental Liberty Doctrine.[13]

Immigration policy

In 2008, Sutherland issued two reports on illegal immigration in Utah, Onus or Opportunity: Conservatism and Illegal Immigration in Utah and Utah's Citizens and Illegal Immigrants: Side-by-Side.[14][15] These reports, which concluded that "We should welcome all people of good will to our state" drew criticism from Republican politicians and praise from the editorial board of the Deseret News, who wrote that Sutherland's immigration policy "stands squarely on the side of compassion, accommodation and realistic reforms."[16][17]

Family policy

In 2005, Sutherland contacted 232 local Utah governments with a proposal for a resolution whereby cities would state their support of Sutherland's definition of the family as a man, woman, and children. One city, Kanab, Utah, accepted and enacted the resolution, which was criticized as homophobic by some city residents and elected officials.[18][19]

In 2013, former Institute president Paul Mero voiced opposition to the annual Sundance Film Festival, saying Utah taxpayers should not have to subsidize a festival which featured obscenity and pornography.[20]

The Institute's opposition to a state-proposed nondiscrimination law placed it in opposition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which was pushing for the ordinance in place of possible more sweeping societal changes. Mero's involvement in the matter was later cited by the Institute's board of directors as a reason that he was asked to resign in August 2014.[21]

Limited government

In February 2007, Edwin Feulner announced the creation of Sutherland's Center for Limited Government, to focus on limiting the size and scope of government, promoting government transparency, and ending taxpayer subsidies of private companies.[22]


In November 2002, Paul Mero presented his speech entitled "Why I'm Not an Environmentalist" at a conference called Dialogue Utah organized by "Utah Issues, Sutherland, the University of Utah Hinckley Institute of Politics and the Utah Foundation, a politically neutral public policy research group".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Sutherland Institute. Guidestar. June 30, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Romboy, Dennis (20 January 2004). "Utah think tank remaking itself". Deseret News. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  3. ^ Nokkentved, N.S. (8 February 2005). "Orem philanthropist, think tank founder, 56, dies". Daily Herald. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  4. ^ Riley Roche, Lisa (26 August 2014). "Paul Mero steps down as head of Sutherland Institute". Deseret News. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Conservative Utah think tank gets new leader". Washington Times. Associated Press. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  6. ^ Romboy, Dennis (May 21, 2016). "Sutherland Institute looks to broaden reach as conservative think tank". Deseret News. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  7. ^ Monson, Derek (5 June 2015). "My view: 4 guidelines for getting Medicaid expansion compromise right". Deseret News. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  8. ^ Pugmire, Genelle (15 August 2012). "Orem council votes to raise taxes by $1.7 million instead of $3.3 million". Daily Herald. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  9. ^ Roche, Lisa Riley (21 May 2013). "Charity care offered as alternative to Medicaid expansion". Deseret News. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  10. ^ Harris, Chad Steven William (2007). Analysis of Utah's School-choice Debate: The Fellowship of the Conservative Ring. ProQuest. p. 173. ISBN 9780549395140.
  11. ^ Barker, Brooke (May 10, 2007). "Governor sets voucher vote for Nov". Daily Herald. Archived from the original on 11 June 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2015.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  12. ^ Erickson, Tiffany (18 September 2007). "Voucher foe in 'lion's den'?". Deseret News. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  13. ^ Mero, Paul T.; Daniel E. Witte (2008). Removing Classrooms from the Battlefield: Liberty, Paternalism, and the Redemptive Promise of Educational Choice. Brigham Young University Law Review. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  14. ^ "Onus or Opportunity? Conservatism and Illegal Immigration in Utah" (PDF). Sutherland Institute. 5 May 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Utah's Citizens and Illegal Immigrants: Side-by-Side" (PDF). Sutherland Institute. 27 August 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  16. ^ Dethman, Leigh (28 August 2008). "No Utah welcome mat for illegals?". Deseret News. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  17. ^ "Good ideas on immigration". Deseret News. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  18. ^ Perkins, Nancy (2 March 2006). "Family resolution divides Kanab". Deseret News. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  19. ^ Detham, Leigh (6 April 2006). "'Natural family' resolution is called 'exclusionary'". Deseret News. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  20. ^ Means, Sean (January 14, 2013). "Right-wing group protests Utah support of Sundance". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  21. ^ Gehrke, Robert (August 26, 2014). "Board ousts Paul Mero as Sutherland Institute president". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  22. ^ "Key Areas of Focus for The Center for Limited Government". Sutherland Institute. Retrieved 10 June 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′08″N 111°53′30″W / 40.7690°N 111.8916°W / 40.7690; -111.8916