While national political campaigns and politicians are regularly featured in the news for their accomplishments on the right, one small state-based think tank is quietly grinding away victory after victory. The Goldwater Institute was already a leading state-based think tank when libertarian lawyer Clint Bolick came on board five years ago to launch a litigation division. Since then, Bolick has greatly expanded the reach of the right-leaning think tank, filing lawsuits against all levels of government to protect taxpayers and businesses from government overreach. Bolick's favorite line, which he says with a grin, is, “I get paid to sue government bureaucrats.”
Bolick's litigation against government dates back to his days at The Institute for Justice, the libertarian public interest litigation firm he co-founded with Chip Mellor in 1991. Between his tenure at the Institute for Justice and the Goldwater Institute, Bolick served as President and General Counsel of the Alliance for School Choice, where he became a hero of the school choice movement, aggressively defending tuition voucher programs around the country. Bolick has successfully won landmark precedents defending school choice, freedom of enterprise, private property rights and challenging corporate subsidies and racial classifications.
Phoenix Magazine calls the Goldwater Institute “a ninja-lawyer squad.” Conservative writer George Will wrote in 2010, "Pound for pound, the Goldwater Institute is the best (state-level) think tank in the country.” The Goldwater Institute was launched in 1988, appropriately named after Arizona's famous conservative, the late Barry Goldwater. Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was the Executive Director, and left a few years later to run for Congress. The Institute built up a respected reputation as a public policy think tank, issuing exhaustively researched policy reports about local government. Darcy Olsen, a bright young visionary, became President and CEO in 2001 and wisely expanded the organization by bringing in Bolick to start a litigation center, the first of its kind for a state-based policy group.