Tim Lambert has more details on yet another Astroturf operation, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, recently in the news for attacking open source software and also a shill for the tobacco industry.
A point of interest for me is that I don’t think you really need detailed evidence in cases like this (though of course, its handy to have the kind of chapter and verse Tim provides). Unless it’s devoted to the life and works of de Tocqueville, an outfit with a name like the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution is bound to be bogus.
Australia has a string of such setups, all run by Ray Evans of the Western Mining Corporation. The most egregious is the Lavoisier Group, an organisation for climate change contrarians (about as plausible as creationists calling themselves the Mendel society) . If you move along to the (anti-Aboriginal rights) Bennelong Society you’ll find an almost identical website with the same postal address, shared with the (anti-union) HR Nicholls Society . The (monarchist) Samuel Griffiths society is from the same production line, though not quite as brazenly so.
So what is it about names like these that screams “Astroturf”? Most named institutes are either named in honour of the founder, or are explicitly partisan institutions whose name indicates their affiliation, as with the Evatt (Labor) and Menzies (Liberal) foundations. It’s not clear that those named would always agree with what is published in their names, but there’s some reasonable basis for presuming that this might be the case.
By contrast, to choose a long-dead person with whom almost everyone has positive associations, then to put forward controversial positions in the name of that person is to be dishonest from the outset.