Tuesday, April 13, 2021

R Street Institue Suing Former Employee Over "Side Gig" Work

 Here is more from Law.com:

R Street Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy organization, sued the former director of its criminal justice and civil liberties program Thursday in Virginia Eastern District Court over alleged misappropriation of trade secrets, interference with donor relationships and other breaches. The 73-page complaint, filed by Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, contends that attorney Arthur Rizer misused RSI resources and diverted opportunities away from the plaintiff for personal gain. Counsel have not yet appeared for the defendants. The case is 1:21-cv-00401, R Street Institute v. Rizer d/b/a Arrow Consulting, LLC et al.

 

The full lawsuit can be found here.  Among other things, R Street Institute (RSI), headquartered in Washington, DC, says that Mr. Rizer repeatedly diverted work from RSI to his own consulting firm and used RSI resources to perform that work, charging expenses related to that work to RSI.

It is extremely common for think tankers to have a side hustle, often taking on numerous consulting gigs and/or starting their own consulting firms to siphon off work from their own think tank.

Some think tanks have mandatory conflict of interest (COI) disclosure forms that their scholars have to fill out annually, but others do not.  Even scholars who are supposed to disclose COIs often fail to do so.

According to his LinkedIn page, Dr. Rizer was Director of Justice Policy and Senior Fellow at R Street Institute from Aug. 2016 to Jan. 2021.  He is now Vice President of Technology, Criminal Justice, and Civil Liberties at the Lincoln Network.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#407)

  • Carnegie launches Africa Program; Zainab Usman will be the founding director.
  • US military's "maximum pressure" in South China Sea "unprecedented," says Beijing think tank South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI).
  • Big tech taps libertarian think tank lifeline in DC.
  • Employ America: A left-learning think tank that advocates for the Fed to let the economy run hot.
  • Author bashes CFR's Ray Takeyh for a critical review of his book, citing conflicts of interest.
  • Jake Sullivan penned a piece by Jennifer Harris of the Roosevelt Institute in Feb. 2020 which outlines a strategy that some are calling "Sullivan's Law."
  • AEI's Leon Aron: Could Putin launch another invasion? 
  • How do I chat up an economist at a think tank event?
  • Ryan Anderson, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center: "Amazon won't let you read my book."
  • Pic: A nice outdoor think tank.

Friday, April 9, 2021

CAP Has Stocked Biden Administration with Nearly 60 Policy Wonks

The Biden Administration has been hiring think tankers at an extremely rapid pace, with a number of high-level positions being filled by those from the Brookings Institution, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Atlantic Council, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and many others.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has been one of the biggest sources of talent for the Biden Administration.  Here is ore from Business Insider:

A liberal think tank launched as a counterweight to President George W. Bush's administration is filling the ranks of the Biden administration. 

At least 56 alumni of the Center for American Progress are now working inside the White House and in agencies across the federal government, according to an Insider analysis of administration announcements and career networking sites.

They're not just any government jobs, either: CAP alumni fill some of the most important positions in Washington. Among them are President Joe Biden's new secretary of Veterans Affairs, the top White House economic policy advisor, and the chief of staff at the Pentagon. 

Even Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, served on the board of the think tank's political arm. And CAP's most visible member, President and CEO Neera Tanden, would be serving as White House budget director, but the administration pulled her nomination in the face of opposition from Senate Republicans.

 

Business Insider notes that of the 56 CAP alumni known to be serving in the Biden Administration, 18 of them were affiliated with the think tank until this year.  The others include former senior fellows, policy analysts, and a handful of former CAP interns.

CAP has a staff of around 300 people.

Here is Think Tank Watch's list of think tankers that have gone into the Biden Administration.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Mike Pence Starts Think Tank-Like Entity With Heritage Influence

Here is more from Axios:

Former Vice President Mike Pence today launches Advancing American Freedom, a policy and advocacy organization "to promote the pro-freedom policies of the last four years."

The big picture: After lying low since the inauguration 77 days ago, Pence said the 501(c)(4)'s goals include "promoting traditional conservative values and promoting the successful policies of the Trump administration."

  • The group also will "oppose the expansion of government" under the Biden administration.

Why it matters: Pence, 61, is automatically part of 2024's opening top tier, and is giving a sense of his early message as he reengages in public life.

  • His first major open-press speech will be April 29, to the Palmetto Family Council in Columbia, S.C.

The advisory board includes Kellyanne Conway, Jim DeMint, Ed Feulner, former Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Newt and Callista Gingrich, Heritage Foundation President Kay James, Larry Kudlow, Robert Lighthizer, Club for Growth President David McIntosh, Ed Meese, Rick Santorum, Seema Verma, Russ Vought and Scott Walker.

 

Paul Teller will be the executive director of Advancing American Freedom (AAF).  Others on the advisory board include Andrew Wheeler, Scott Turner, John Ratcliffe, Star Parker, Lisa Nelson, Penny Nance, Jenny Beth Martin, Robert Jeffress, Rebecca Hagelin, Doug Ducey, Marjorie Dannenfelser, Jim Daly, Ken Cribb, Kelly Craft, David Bernhardt, and actor Kirk Cameron.

Mike Pence, who became a distinguished visiting fellow at Heritage in February, has been rumored to be a possible replacement for the president of the Heritage Foundation after current president Kay Coles James recently announced that she is stepping down from that post.

Jim DeMint and Ed Feulner are both former presidents of the Heritage Foundation.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Crypto Art is Now Funding Think Tanks

 Here is more from The Atlantic:

The think tank Carbon180 is, as far as I know, the only American nonprofit dedicated to studying the removal of carbon-dioxide pollution from the atmosphere. It is not a very large organization. When such things are possible, its 15 employees are headquartered in a renovated concert hall turned co-working space in Washington, D.C., a building notable as the site of the first Beatles concert in the United States.

Beyond this coincidence, Carbon180 has “no preexisting relationships with famous people,” Noah Deich, its president and co-founder, told me last week.

Yet famous people have recently started to cultivate relationships with Carbon180. In the past few weeks, a growing list of celebrities have named Carbon180 as a beneficiary of their auction of “nonfungible tokens,” or NFTs, despite neither Deich nor the group seeking out their backing.

To give some sense of the scale: The experimental-pop musician Grimes, who has pledged a portion of her NFT sales to Carbon180, sold $6 million worth of digital-art NFTs last month—which is more than double Carbon180’s annual budget of $2.7 million. So Deich is delighted by the sudden support (even if it’s not yet clear what exact portion of these proceeds will be donated, or when that transfer might happen).

 

Carbon180, which was formerly the Center for Carbon Removal, describes itself as a climate-focused NGO rather than a think tank.

This is the first known instance of crypo art funding a "think tank."  Some think tanks, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), accept bitcoin donations.  

The oldest free-market think tank in the US, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), is another think tank accepting bitcoin donations.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#406)

  • Daily Caller: Atlantic Council ignored anti-corruption activist's warnings about Burisma.
  • Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy releases first independent report into Xinjiang genocide allegations; claims evidence of Beijing's "intent to destroy" Uighur people.
  • Recent CSIS task force comprised of former spies: Five Eyes intelligence alliance should create a shared cloud serve on which to store data.
  • Think tank donors don't want galas, glossy annual reports, or generic requests for money.
  • Do audiences treat think tank presenters differently because of their gender?
  • Michael Dukakis Institute: "A technology and leadership think tank in Boston."
  • There's nothing new about politicians speaking at think tanks, but the boom in virtual conferences has given the organizations unprecedented reach.
  • Pakistan's PM Imran Khan launches 1st of its kind advisory portal set up by the National Security Division to engage think tanks and academia in policy making.
  • India's top economic policy think tanks and the changes in their leadership.
  • Atlantic Council: A mom's guide to coercion and deterrence.

Monday, April 5, 2021

China Bashes Yet Another DC Think Tank Report

China is getting much more outspoken in its effort to discredit various US think tanks and think tank reports that are critical of China policy.  Here is the latest example from Global Times, which is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party:

The Washington DC-based so-called think tank Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy (NISP) which recently released its fake report on Xinjiang to smear China is found to be of dubious origins with ulterior motives. The institute is also closely linked to the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an organization suspected of funding terrorism, experts told the Global Times. 

Established in 2019, the NISP, which was formerly named the Center for Global Policy, labeled itself a "nonpartisan think tank in Washington DC" on its website, working to "enhance US foreign policy based on a deep understanding of the geopolitics of the different regions of the world, and their value systems." However, its independence and objectivity have been questioned by many media outlets and experts.

The Global Times found that Adrian Zenz was one of the "star contributors" of this "think tank." Adrian Zenz, born in 1974, is an infamous anti-China pseudo-scholar. He is on China's sanctions list against EU individuals and entities due to his repeated lies and provocations against Xinjiang.

The NISP's "academic cadre" is also filled with people with the US military or affiliations to government departments and organizations. 

For example, Gen. Robert Spalding has worked in the positions of strategy and diplomacy within the Defense and State departments for more than 26 years, and his "research output" at the NISP was only an opinion piece attacking Huawei. Ilan Berman, another contributor, is senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington DC. 

The NISP claimed to be a division of the Fairfax University of America (FXUA) and receives funding from this university. However, the school's credentials were in doubt, and it was severely criticized by local regulators and nearly closed at one time.

 

Earlier this year, the Chinese government was very critical of an anonymous Atlantic Council paper on US-China relations called "The Longer Telegram."

In March, China sanctioned the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), Europe's leading think tank on China.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Is Stanford Trying to Cut Ties with the Hoover Institution?

Here is more from The Daily Wire:

Earlier this month, a group of Stanford University professors presented and published a memo accusing Hoover Institution fellows of being conservative, which they are, but argued they needed to be censured because the majority of the Stanford community disagreed with their views.

It appears the professors’ attempt to silence the Hoover fellows has failed, according to The Federalist.

“Despite a months-long campaign of demonization directed at Victor Davis Hanson, Niall Ferguson, and Scott Atlas — amplified with support from The Stanford Daily — the assault ended without condemnation of the trio or Hoover,” the outlet reported.

As the three fellows wrote last week, Stanford’s president, provost, and former provost defended the think tank and academic freedom in general.

Instead of the public condemnation and silencing demanded by the Stanford professors, Provost Persis Drell and Hoover Institute director Condoleezza Rice were asked to “to present a report to the body later this year about ‘increasing interaction’ between the university and the think tank,” The Federalist reported.

 

Here is the presentation by professors Joshua Landy, Stephen Monismith, David Palumbo-Liu, and David Spiegel.

The Daily Wire notes that this is not the first time that Stanford has attempted to cut ties with Hoover.  Here is a New York Times piece from 1983 entitled "Stanford Liberals Question School's Tie to Hoover Institution."

The Federalist notes that Hoover, which was initially founded in 1919 as a library by Stanford alumnus Herbert Hoover, has a $450 million endowment and a $50 million annual budget.

It also notes that although Hoover is a part of Stanford, it has an independent board of overseers.

Here is a piece by Stanford Political Journal entitled "100 Years of Hoover: A History of Stanford's Decades-Long Debate Over the Hoover Institution."

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#405)

  • A Roadmap for US Global Leadership, from the US Global Leadership Commission, analyzed over 100 foreign and security policy reports to pinpoint key areas of consensus.
  • A phrase not in a think tankers vocabulary: "I don't know enough about this to have an opinion."
  • What was the last think tank event you went to before lockdown?
  • Scotland needs more think tanks.
  • Hillary Clinton does Atlantic Council event.
  • AEI: Dire need to reopen schools ASAP.
  • 42% of RAND Corp.'s US-based research staff identify as female.
  • How an Albany think tank exposed Andrew Cuomo's coronavirus coverup.
  • There was an episode of Star Trek: Voyager featuring a think tank for hire guest-starring Jason Alexander?
  • Campbell Collaboration produces and disseminates high-quality open access systematic reviews and evidence synthesis methods.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Think Tanker from Niskanen Center Fired Over Tweet

Here is more from Fox News (this happened back in January):

A contributing opinion writer for The New York Times was fired from his think tank job Thursday over a tweet that jokingly suggested former Vice President Mike Pence be lynched in order to unify the country. 

Now-former Niskanen Center Vice President for Research Will Wilkinson raised eyebrows Wednesday night when he offered some tongue-in-cheek advice for President Biden following his inaugural address call for unity.

"If Biden really wanted unity, he'd lynch Mike Pence," Wilkinson tweeted.  On Thursday, Wilkinson deleted the tweet and issued an apology. 

The apology was not good enough for the Niskanen Center, which said in a statement that it "appreciates and encourages interesting and provocative online discourse."

"However, we draw the line at statements that are, or can in any way be interpreted as condoning or promoting violence. As such, the Niskanen Center has, with a heavy heart, parted ways with Will Wilkinson. We thank him for his valuable contributions to the organization and wish him success in his future endeavors."

 

Here is a piece from Reason entitled "Cancel Culture Comes for Will Wilkinson."

Monday, March 29, 2021

Tiny Belgium Think Tank Making Waves

It may not have the name recognition of the Heritage Foundation and Brookings Institution, or the foreign policy chops of a think tank like Atlantic Council, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, or Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), but a tiny Belgium policy shop could be the most important think tank of March 2021.

The Knowledge Center for Maneuvering in Shallow and Confined Water, a think tank housed within Belgium's Ghent University, has received outsized attention in the wake of the Ever Given container ship being stuck in the Suez Canal.

The think tank was established to "fix, extend, and provide scientific know-how on the behavior of vessels in shallow or confined navigation areas."  Its URL is https://www.shallowwater.be.  And as far as Think Tank Watch knows, it is the only think tank with its own towing tank.

Twitter is abuzz with delight.  One commentator says it was a missed opportunity that they didn't choose the name "Licensed to Keel."  Another said it is more like a "sink tank" than a think tank.  Another said that its motto should be "we don't have deep thoughts."  Another said, "it's not a think tank it's a think tanker."

We're just glad that the think tank is making waves because a rising tide lifts all boats.

Heritage Foundation Turns Down 6-Figure Donations After Taking 7-Figure Donation

 Here is more from Axios:

Flagship conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation turned down a pair of six-figure contributions last year from tech giants Google and Facebook, Axios has learned.

What's new: Outgoing Heritage president Kay Coles James wrote pointed letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai in late October turning down their contributions.

  • The letters, which Heritage provided to Axios, formally rejected a $225,000 contribution from Google and noted that it would be returning a $150,000 donation from Facebook.
  • "We cannot in good conscience take money from a company that repeatedly, and blatantly, suppresses conservative speech on your platforms," said the letter to Pichai, language closely mirrored in the note to Zuckerberg.
  • Heritage accused Facebook of blocking referral traffic to the foundation's news and opinion website, and Google of censoring its YouTube videos, including by appending a disclaimer on one pre-election video "meant to cast doubt on the credibility of our well-sourced claims about the risks of voting by mail."
  • The Zuckerberg letter also noted Facebook's decision to temporarily limit the reach of New York Post story on the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop just weeks before the election.

Flashback: According to a Heritage spokesperson, Google had previously donated a total of $1.55 million to the group. Facebook had contributed $275,000.

  • Contributions to Heritage in 2019 alone totaled more than $87 million, according to its financial statements for the year.

 

In other words, the Heritage Foundation is keeping roughly 85% of the money that Google has given the think tank and it is returning around 15%.

Last week, it was announced that Heritage's president and EVP would be stepping down from the think tank.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Collapse of Liberty University's Think Tank?

 Here is more from the New York Times:

When the Falkirk Center think tank was established at Liberty University in Virginia in 2019, it quickly became the de facto headquarters of evangelical Trumpism on a campus that had risen to national prominence.

Past and present fellows have included Sebastian Gorka, the radio host Eric Metaxas, and the former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis. Mr. Rudy Giuliani, the former president's lawyer, appeared on a podcast episode titled “Is the Election Really Over?” that aired the week after the election.

Now, less than two years later, Falkirk’s high-profile founders are gone, and Liberty is rethinking the center’s future in a post-Trump world.

The university quietly opted last fall not to renew the contract of Charlie Kirk, the combative young conservative activist who started the Falkirk Center with Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of Liberty’s founder. Mr. Falwell resigned as university president in August in the wake of a multipronged scandal that included allegations of sexual impropriety.

Liberty refers to the Falkirk Center as a “think tank,” although it has produced no traditional scholarship or academic research. Instead, it produces a podcast and videos on hot-button political and cultural topics, and is known for its aggressive social media presence.

The center, which is funded and owned by the university, also placed at least $50,000 worth of political ads on Facebook promoting Mr. Trump and other Republican candidates in the run-up to the election last fall, according to Politico.

Its rotating assortment of “fellows” do not have consistently defined responsibilities.

 

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece about the launch of the Falkirk Center, and here is a post about how the think tank supported the Trump campaign.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

China Sanctions Europe's Leading Think Tank on China

On March 22, China announced that it sanctioned 10 European individuals and four entities, including a European think tank and several scholars, citing "severe harm to China's sovereignty and interests and the malicious spreading of lies and disinformation."

Berlin, Germany-based think tank Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), one of the entities sanctioned, issued a statement saying it regrets China's decision and rejects all allegations.  MERICS was founded in 2013 by Stiftung Mercator, one of Germany's largest private foundations.

MERICS partners with numerous research institutions and consulting firms overseas, including the US-based Rhodium Group.

Together with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), MERICS set up the China Security Project in 2017.  The project develops insights on China's defense and security policies, industries, global power projection capabilities, and implications for Europe and NATO.

MERICS has also supported the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in launching the Technology Alliance Project.  And since 2018, MERICS has been a partner of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the Allied Economic Forum.

Mr. Simon Rabinovitch, a journalist for The Economist, said he was "stunned to see China's list of European sanctions include MERICS of all places: Europe's biggest think tank devoted to China."  MERICS calls itself "Europe's leading China think tank."

Here is a recent infographic that MERICS published on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Here is MERICS' "Global China Inc. Tracker."

Last year, China threatened to sue German researcher Adrian Zenz (who was one of the individuals China just sanctioned) along with the think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

China recently released a video warning about foreign think tanks.

Update: Here is a joint statement by European think tank directors on the sanctions.  CSIS scholars have also released a statement in support of MERICS.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Heritage Foundation President & EVP Stepping Down

Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James along with the conservative think tank's EVP Kim Holmes announced their resignation on March 22.

A press release says that James will be staying on a president for up to six months until a replacement is found, after which she will become a Heritage distinguished visiting fellow.  She will also remain on the think tanks' board of trustees.

Here is the reason James said they were stepping down:

“When we came on board as the executive leadership team three years ago, we set several goals and told Heritage’s board of trustees that we would serve for three to five years to see them through,” said James. “We accomplished everything we set out to do. Now it’s time to let someone else take the reins.”

Mrs. James became president of Heritage on Jan. 1, 2018 and has been a trustee of Heritage's board since 2005.  Holmes, whose resignation is effective April 16, joined Heritage in 1985, left for a stint in the George W. Bush White House, and later returned to Heritage.

Here is what Reuters added:

James took the helm of the think tank after former President Jim DeMint was fired in 2018 after the organization’s leadership determined he had veered too far from its conservative principals and too close to then-President Donald Trump’s White House.

The foundation shapes policy in Republican administrations and congressional districts, and many members of the Trump White House were affiliates.

After Trump lost the 2020 election, former Vice President Mike Pence and Department of Homeland Security officials Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Morgan joined the think tank as visiting fellows.

In a March opinion article for the foundation, Pence warned of “significant voting irregularities” in the 2020 election, despite dozens of lawsuits alleging these irregularities being tossed by judges nationwide for lack of proof.

 

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board praised Mrs. James and took a swipe at former Heritage president Jim DeMint, who it said "downplayed ideas in favor of transforming Heritage into a political action committee."

Here is a Real Clear Politics piece which mentions some possible replacements for James, and here is a piece from former Heritage lawyer Andrew Kloster with lots of juicy gossip.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece from 2017 about reaction to to the announcement that Kay Coles James would become president of Heritage.

James will be one of a number of think tank leaders resigning this year at major US think tanks.

Heritage Foundation, founded in 1973, calls itself the US's most broadly supported think tank, with more than 500,000 members.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#404)

  • Expert directory: 600 female voices on Greater China. 
  • Think tankers abound on American Leadership Initiative board.
  • Colin Kahl, Biden's nominee for Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and a former Senior Fellow at CNAS and CFR, comes under fire from Republicans over past tweets.
  • Aggregator of EU think tank reports.
  • More than one-third of US nonprofits are in jeopardy of closing within two years because of the financial harm inflicted by the pandemic, says Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.
  • Tokyo is planning to establish a new think tank to apply commercial technologies, such as quantum technology and AI, to the national security field in FY 2021.
  • Think tanks in politically embedded knowledge regimes: does the "revolving door" matter in China?
  • US Mission in Nepal soliciting proposals for grants or cooperative agreements from think tanks.
  • Nate Schenkkan of Freedom House: "The problem with website metrics for think tanks is at least half of the clicks are the report authors looking it up to email to someone."
  • Robert Blackwill, a former national security aide to George W. Bush, co-authored a new paper for CFR, "The United States, China and Taiwan: A Strategy to Prevent War."

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Heritage Foundation Mocked for Defending British Monarchy

 Here is more from Newsweek:

One of the U.S.'s most powerful conservative think tanks is being mocked for its plans to host a March 25 event that defends the British monarchy and blasts the "radical left" for undermining American democracy.

Confused critics and left-leaning Americans are questioning the underlying "conservative" principles of the Heritage Foundation after the powerful nonprofit announced it's hosting an event entitled "The Crown Under Fire: Why the Left's Campaign to Cancel the Monarchy and Undermine a Cornerstone of Western Democracy Will Fail." Political pundits noted on Saturday that opposition to the British monarchy is "about as foundationally American as you can get," but a recent interview of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry by Oprah Winfrey revealed an unabashedly pro-monarchy embrace of the Crown by many of today's U.S. conservatives.

 

Heritage's event will take place on March 25 and is being hosted by James Jay Carafano, Vice President of the think tank's Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute.  It will be moderated by Dr. Joseph Loconte, Director of the think tank's Simon Center for American Studies.

The panelists include: Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, former leader of the UK Conservative Party and Founding Chairman of The Centre for Social Justice; Camilla Tominey, Associate Editor of the London Daily Telegraph and Royal Expert and Commentator; Tim Montgomerie, Political Commentator and Founder of ConservativeHome; and Dr. Nile Gardiner, Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom and Bernard and Barbara Lomas fellow.

In related news, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) will be hosting an event with the Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, UK's Secretary of State for Defense.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Congress Pushing for More Transparency on Foreign Funding of US Think Tanks

As foreign governments continue to flood US think tanks with money, some in the US Congress are demanding more transparency to shine a light on the influence that these entities have over policy shops.

Here is more from National Review:

A group of House Republicans [is introducing a] bill that subjects think tanks and research institutions to stricter disclosure requirements. If their proposal, set to be announced by Representative Lance Gooden and the Republican Study Committee — which initially called for these reforms in June — becomes law, it stands a chance at complicating...foreign-influence operations.

The Gooden bill will require think tanks to report any donations from foreign governments and political parties that exceed $50,000 annually, though its introduction reflects a growing concern on Capitol Hill about the CCP’s foreign-influence campaigns in particular.

The Gooden bill, in addition to making those disclosures mandatory above $50,000, requires that the Treasury Department create a publicly accessible database displaying the relevant think tanks’ ties to foreign governments.

 

Here is a press release about the bill from Lance Gooden (R-TX), and here is the text of the bill, which was introduced along with Jim Banks (R-IN) and Joe Wilson (R-SC).

Ben Freeman, Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative (FITI), said the language in the bill is "precisely what was recommended in its report entitled "Foreign Funding of Think Tanks in America."

Think Tank Watch should note that most major US think tanks already disclose their donors, including foreign governments.  However, some that do disclose will often release only a partial list of major donors above a certain monetary threshold, obfuscate certain donors as "anonymous," or even purposely leave certain donors off the list.

And as with anything that becomes law, there would be numerous loopholes.  For example, many think tankers often work at or run their own for-profit consultancies where money from foreign governments and other entities can be funneled to, thus avoiding any disclosure requirements.

Update: Here is a piece by Quincy Institute Senior Advisor Eli Clifton about the newly introduced bill.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Koch Funding is Reshaping Washington's Think Tank Scene

While US government funding and foreign government funding of US think tanks continues to play an increasing role in think tank funding, corporate-tied funding is as influential as ever.  And there are few bigger names in think tank funding than Koch.

The recent kerfuffle at Atlantic Council exposed huge problems in the think tank world, highlighting how scholars are often beholden to their donors and will stop at nothing to defend their turf - even if it means axing their fellow think tank colleagues to keep that money flowing.

Here is more from The Washington Free Beacon about the influence of Koch money:

The controversial view that caused last week's kerfuffle—that the United States should look the other way on the human rights violations of its adversaries—is espoused by the scholars who sit atop virtually every Koch-funded program, the result of an aggressive and explicit push to undermine what remains of the country's foreign policy consensus and replace it with a different one. 

Over the past several years, Charles Koch Institute vice president William Ruger, President Donald Trump's failed nominee to be ambassador to Afghanistan, has approached virtually every major think tank in the city offering to fund proponents of "restraint," according to a dozen think-tank sources familiar with the situation.

Organizations from the Atlantic Council to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the International Crisis Group, the Center for the National Interest, and the Eurasia Group Foundation have taken Ruger and the Charles Koch Institute up on the offer. The list goes on: the Cato Institute, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and, as of last year, even the government-funded RAND Corporation.

 

While working for the Charles Koch Institute, Mr. Ruger is also a Research Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Cato Institute.  Charles Koch, the founder and primary financier of the Charles Koch Institute, is Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, one of the largest privately held American companies.

The article notes that a handful of DC think tanks, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), have turned down the Koch money, "pointing privately to the Kochs' insistence on approving the scholars who would be hired with the funds."  However, CSIS spokesman Andrew Schwartz admitted that the think tank has "on occasion performed some small project work" that has been funded by Koch. 

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece about how Koch money helped fund the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

Here is a Politico piece entitled "Koch Showers Millions on Think Tanks to Push a Restrained Foreign Policy."

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Is This Little Magazine More Influential Than Any Think Tank?

There is a little magazine that is arguably more influential than any publication that any think tank in the United States produces.  Here is more from the New York Times:

It has only 500 subscribers. And yet Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, a 15-year-old quarterly run by a three-person staff out of a small office blocks from the White House, may be one of the most influential publications of the post-Trump era.

Six of President Biden’s 25 Cabinet-level officials and appointees, including the secretary of state and the chief of staff, as well as many other high-level administration members, have published essays in its pages, floating theories that may now be translated into policy.

Democracy’s print edition has no photos or illustrations, and its website is bare-bones. It has no podcast, and the titles of its articles — “Meritocracy and Its Discontents”; “How to End Wage Stagnation”; “Defend Multilateralism: It’s What People Want” — are not exactly the stuff of clickbait.

It is also not one of those publications with a big social presence, hosting public policy discussions at the Hyatt rather than cocktail parties for the Georgetown set.

 

The article notes that Anne-Marie Slaughter, the chief executive of the think tank New America, is a member of Democracy's editorial advisory committee.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Will States Start Forcing Think Tanks to Disclose Foreign Funding?

Here is more about what is going on in Florida: 

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said China’s theft of intellectual property is among the nation’s most pervasive threats as he outlined proposed legislation Monday to limit its influence in Florida.

The proposal would require universities to report any gifts of $50,000 from a foreign source and more thoroughly screen foreign applicants for research positions. Research institutes would have to report all work-related travel to foreign counties.

It would also require any company that wants to do business with the state or apply for grants to disclose financial ties worth more than $50,000 with China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria or Venezuela.

 

According to a press release, the requirements would impact "every higher education institution, including their DSO's and foundations," meaning that some university-affiliated think tanks could be impacted if the legislation in ultimately enacted.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#403)

  • Wilson Center announces a new Brazil-U.S. Dialogue on Sustainability and Climate Change in partnership with the Concertação Pela Amazônia.
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin's (D-MD) father, Marcus Raskin, co-founded the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). 
  • Foreign policy think tank (Estonian Council on Foreign Relations) created by Estonian ex-ministers and former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
  • BPC launches new task force aimed at modernizing infrastructure.
  • Congressional testimonies of think tank economists by affiliation. 
  • Dr. James McGann's new book: The Future of Think Tanks and Policy Advice Around the World. 
  • FITI currently researching South Korea, Taiwan, and Saudi lobbies.
  • Pic: When the think tank event runs out of sandwiches.
  • Is there a single think tank in Brussels that does not get money from Google or Facebook or Amazon or Apple or Microsoft?
  • "I really hope for an 'Emily in DC' episode where someone at a think tank Q&A stands up and says 'I have more of a comment than a question' and then the entire episode is just a 30-minute comment."

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Think Tank Disagrees With Itself. Chaos Ensues.

Debates happen all the time at think tanks as scholars debate other scholars both within their own think tank and outside the think tank.

But what happened this week at the Atlantic Council went beyond the norms of think tank debate and spilled out into the open, highlighting simmering tensions within the highly-regarded think tank.

The tensions came to a boiling point after Emma Ashford and Mathew Burrows published a piece entitled "Reality Check #4: Focus on interests, not on human rights with Russia," in which they argue that the Biden Administration should focus on more important issues in the US-Russia relationship rather than human rights-related sanctions.

Of course, that is a no-no for most within in the NATO-friendly think thank, whose scholars almost unanimously take a very aggressive stance toward Russia and favor a pile-on of more sanctions.  Plus, the think tank gets major funding from a number of foreign governments that have imposed and are continuing to impose more sanctions on Russia.

As a response to Dr. Ashford and Dr. Burrows, 22 Atlantic Council scholars penned a piece, published on the think tank's website, saying that that the article is "premised on a false assumption that human rights and national interests are wholly separate and the US policy toward Russia was and remains driven by human rights concerns principally."

The 22 scholars added that they "disagree" with the article's "arguments and values" and "disassociate" themselves from the report.

It was a breathtaking move of dissent that is rarely seen in the think tank world.

New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter called the situation "really odd."  She added: "Think tanks typically differentiate [between] an 'institutional view,' which most of us rarely take, and views of individual experts/programs. Healthy disagreement is normal, but it should manifest in public debate or some internal process, not public disassociation."

Dr. Douglas Ollivant, a Senior Fellow at New America, said he can't recall anything like this happening before at a think tank.

Mr. Daniel Larison, who writes a Substack newsletter, called the incident bizarre.  "Atlantic Council published a sensible report on Russia calling for fewer sanctions and focusing on areas where the US and Russia can cooperate.  Then almost two dozen people at AC denounce one of their own publications.  Bizarre." 

Mr. Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital and head of the Global Magnitsky Justice campaign, said "if they didn't have American names I would swear they are Russian," referring to Ashford and Burrows.

Mr. Abe Silberstein says that he sympathizes with the views of the letter signers, but "that isn't how you conduct a professional policy debate."  He added: "It should go without saying that if your byline is not [on] an article or paper, then you are not responsible for it (hence no need to disassociate)."

Ms. Loren DeJonge Schulman, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), said that "fostering intellectual diversity does not mean people get to engage in unsound attacks on one another with the institutions resources."

Dr. Daniel Drezner has a new piece on three ways of looking at the incident.  In it, he notes that some of the 22 signatories of the letter sounded like high school mean girls."

In a move to mitigate the turmoil, Atlantic Council EVP Damon Wilson suggested it is completely normal and healthy.  "Atlantic Council is a place where debate over the most critical foreign policy issues is welcomed and encouraged," adding that the think tank's management does not review the 1,000+ papers it publishes annually for content.

Wilson noted that the think tank will host a Russia-related event soon so that competing arguments within the think tank can be heard out in the open.

Update: Politico has published a new piece on the Atlantic Council kerfuffle.  Here are some excerpts:

One person who signed the statement told POLITICO that they worried the article was, or might be viewed as, a shoddy work product influenced by a $4.5 million donation over five years to the Atlantic Council from Charles Koch, who advocates for less American intervention abroad.

After Koch gave that money to the Atlantic Council, the money was used to set up the New American Engagement Initiative, which aims to study new ways to address foreign policy issues. Ashford, who was at the Koch-funded libertarian think tank the Cato Institute, started at the Atlantic Council on the NAEI in September and was joined by Chris Preble, another prominent former Cato foreign policy scholar who had started at the think tank a few months before.

It goes on to note that most of the people who signed the statement are affiliated with the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center, which has traditionally taken the lead on articles and reports about Russia.  

John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan and one of the signatories of the letter, is director of the Eurasia Center.

Besides Ashford and Burrows, those within the NAEI program include: Erica Borghard, Evan Cooper, Aude Darnal, and Chris Preble.

Nonresident Senior Fellow Dylan Myles-Primakoff has penned a piece (also on the Atlantic Council website) attempting to refute the arguments made by Ashford and Burrows.

It appears that the issue of funding has played the largest role in this fiasco, with the Koch-funded people on one side and the EU government-funded people on the other.  Sadly, the merits of the debate are tainted by that fact.

What it had led to, at least for the time being, is essentially two separate think tanks within the Atlantic Council that are catering to their respective donors while simultaneously weakening the institution as a whole. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Head of Think Tank WRI to Lead Bezos' $10 Billion Earth Fund

 Here is more from CNBC:

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday named the head of a top environmental think tank as the CEO of his $10 billion Earth Fund.

In an Instagram post, Bezos said Andrew Steer, who currently serves as President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, an environmental non-profit, has agreed to lead the Earth Fund.

The Earth Fund, launched last February, is designed to combat the effects of climate change by issuing grants to scientists, activists and other organizations in their efforts to “preserve and protect the natural world.” Last November, Bezos announced the first recipients of the Earth Fund, with groups receiving $791 million worth of grants. Among the recipients were the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, the World Wildlife Fund and the World Resources Institute.

 

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece about how the World Resources Institute (WRI) received $100 million from Jeff Bezos.

With Andrew Steer stepping down from his current post, WRI will become the latest think tank to lose its leader this year.  And rumors abound that there could be even more think tank leadership changes later in the year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

White House Says Think Tanks Compromised in Latest Microsoft Hack

Foreign entities continue to hack into think tanks at a relentless pace, and the White House is now monitoring the issue.  Here is more from Reuters:

The White House is closely tracking an emergency patch Microsoft Corp has released, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday, after an unknown hacking group recently broke into organizations using a flaw in the company’s mail server software.

“We are closely tracking Microsoft’s emergency patch for previously unknown vulnerabilities in Exchange Server software and reports of potential compromises of U.S. think tanks and defense industrial base entities,” Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said on Twitter.

Microsoft’s near-ubiquitous suite of products has been under scrutiny since the hack of SolarWinds Corp, a Texas-based software firm that served as a springboard for several intrusions across government and the private sector.

 

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece on how a suspected Russian hacking spree included a US-based think tank.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#402)

  • CFR president: Taiwan is becoming the most dangerous flash point in the world. 
  • Atlantic Council deconstructs the storming of the US Capitol.
  • RAND Corp. doles out insights on sleep.
  • To think tanks who are transcribing webinars: thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
  • Neera Tanden has highest Glassdoor approval rating of any think tank chief?
  • Six experts from the Hoover Institution are partnering with Innovate Alabama to help grow the state's economy. 
  • Wilson Center Tech Lab alums visit water treatment facility to observe cybersecurity readiness.
  • Carnegie Europe: Russia sees attempts to link climate change to global security as a threat to its own security and economic stability.
  • AEI think tanker Scott Winship not happy with WaPo reporter.
  • Pic: CFR's new face masks.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Trump's SefDef Joins McCain Institute as Distinguished Fellow

Dr. Mark Esper, former President Donald Trump's Defense Secretary, has joined the McCain Institute as a Distinguished Fellow, making him the latest high-level Trump official to enter think tank land.

The think tank, which is based in Washington, DC, notes that Esper will lead a bipartisan team to assess, discuss, and promote policy solutions to the challenges facing US national security decision-makers in Congress and the Executive Branch.

Donors to the McCain Institute include: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation, Chevron, Cisco Systems, Daimler, FedEx, Ford Foundation, GE Foundation, Open Society Foundations, MGM Resorts International, PetSmart, Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and Walmart.

Think Tank Watch has just updated its list of think tankers going into the Biden Administration and list of former Trump officials going into the think tank world.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

NYT Columnist David Brooks Used Perch to Promote His Own Think Tank Project

 Here is more from BuzzFeed:

New York Times columnist David Brooks is drawing a second salary for his work on an Aspen Institute project funded by Facebook and other large donors — a fact he has not disclosed in his columns.

A Times spokesperson refused to tell BuzzFeed News whether the paper was aware Brooks was taking a salary for his work on Weave, a project he founded and leads for the Aspen Institute, a prominent think tank based in Washington, DC. The spokesperson also wouldn’t say if the Times knew that Weave took money from Facebook.

In Dec. 2018, Facebook earmarked a $250,000 gift to the Aspen Institute for the project. Three months later, Brooks introduced Times readers to his concept of “Weavers,” which he described as people who fight social isolation by “building community and weaving the social fabric” across the US.

Brooks began work on Weave in May 2018, according to the Aspen Institute. Its transparency report for that year shows Weave received just over $1.3 million from donors, including the Resnick Family Foundation, the Robert K. Steel Family Foundation, and James Schine Crown, an Aspen Institute trustee who sits on the boards of General Dynamics Corporation and JPMorgan Chase. Weave’s single largest donation, over $300,000, came from Miguel Bezos, the father of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and an Institute trustee.

 

Aspen Institute, founded in 1949, is headquartered in Washington, DC and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Update: David Brooks has resigned from the Aspen Institute after more evidence of conflicts emerged.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

AFL-CIO Launches a Tech Think Tank

The influential labor union AFL-CIO has launched a new think tank called the Technology Institute.  Here is more from a press release:

Today, the AFL-CIO launched its Technology Institute, which will leverage the power of technology and innovation for the labor movement. Leading this cutting-edge initiative is Institute Director Amanda Ballantyne, who brings diverse experience in labor and economic justice work. As executive director of the Main Street Alliance, she grew a groundbreaking project into a powerful, national organization. Under Ballantyne’s leadership, the organization developed campaign strategies to engage small business owners in winning a variety of progressive reforms, including job-quality policies like earned sick time, minimum wage and family leave.

The Technology Institute will serve as the labor movement’s think tank, to help us solve issues created by technology in collective bargaining and in any place it arises.

 

While labor unions fund a number of think tanks, this is the first time ever that a union has created an in-house think tank in the United States.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Most Influential Think Tankers in the US

Washingtonian magazine has a new piece on who it thinks will be the 250 most influential people outside of government who will play the biggest roles in US federal policy debates over the next five years.  Think Tank Watch counts 38 think tankers, or roughly 15% of the list.  Of those 38, Brookings had the most people on the list, with 10.  Here are the think tankers:

Antitrust:

  • Barry Lynn: Open Markets Institute, Executive Director

Banking & Finance:

  • Aaron Klein: Brookings Institution, Senior Fellow

Business & Labor

  • Jennifer Hillman: Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow

Climate & Environment

  • Paul Bledsoe: Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), Strategic Adviser

Economic Policy:

  • Dean Baker: Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Co-founder and Senior Economist
  • Oren Cass: American Compass, Founder and Executive Director 
  • Tyler Cowen: George Mason University's Mercatus Center, Director
  • Steve Hanke: Cato Institute, Senior Fellow
  • Adam Posen: Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), President
  • Heidi Shierholz: Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Senior Economist and Director of Policy
  • David Wessel: Brookings, Senior Fellow

Education:

  • Rick Hess: American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Resident Scholar

Foreign Affairs:

  • Karen Donfried: German Marshall Fund (GMF), President
  • Michelle Flournoy: Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Co-founder
  • Bonnie Glaser: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Senior Adviser
  • Trita Parsi: Quincy Institute, Co-founder and EVP
  • Dennis Ross: Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), Counselor and Distinguished Fellow
  • Kori Schake: AEI, Director, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies
  • Christine Wormuth: RAND Corp., Senior Fellow
  • Thomas Wright: Brookings, Senior Fellow

Good Government:

  • Lee Drutman: New America, Senior Fellow
  • Norm Eisen: Brookings, Senior Fellow
  • Norman Ornstein: AEI, Emeritus Scholar

Healthcare:

  • Stuart Butler: Brookings, Senior Fellow
  • Michael Cannon: Cato Institute, Director of Health Policy Studies
  • James Capretta: AEI, Resident Fellow
  • Paul Ginsburg: Brookings, Chair of Health Policy Studies
  • Scott Gottlieb: AEI, Resident Fellow
  • G. William Hoagland: Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), SVP
  • Genevieve Kenney: Urban Institute, VP of Health Policy
  • Kavita Patel: Brookings, Nonresident Fellow

Immigration:

  • Claudia Flores: Center for American Progress (CAP), Immigration Campaign Manager
  • Tom Jawetz: CAP, VP of Immigration Policy

Legal Intelligentsia

  • Benjamin Wittes: Brookings, Senior Fellow

National Security & Defense

  • Fiona Hill: Brookings, Senior Fellow
  • James Lewis: CSIS, SVP
  • H.R. McMaster: Hoover Institution, Senior Fellow
  • Michael O'Hanlon: Brookings, Senior Fellow

 

It should be noted that Time magazine has just issued its 2021 Time100 Next list of the 100 most influential people in the US, and not a single current think tanker made the list.  Jake Sullivan, who was a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is on the list, but he is currently the White House National Security Advisor.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#401)

  • CNAS CEO promotes T-12 to fend off China while Chinese think tank circulates new paper on possible US-China cybersecurity agenda.
  • Weapons biz bankrolls experts (including think tankers) pushing to extend Afghan War.
  • Jessica Matthews, former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes that "a return to the pre-Trump status quo isn't possible."
  • The Cato Institute has a brand new design; ice cream giants Ben & Jerry do a Cato podcast.
  • New Chatham House toolkit launches outlining recommendations to help think tanks seriously include gender in their work.
  • Hot rumor: Zoom Cat joins Atlantic Council as a Senior Fellow.
  • What think tanks nerds need to Google for Valentine's Day.
  • New Kent Calder book chronicling growing influence of think tanks.
  • What think tanks (if any) do you admire and why?
  • New America's Molly Martin has a new way to explain a think tank: "wonder tub."

Thursday, February 25, 2021

New Report Details South Korea's Outreach to Think Tanks

A new report from the Center for International Policy's (CIP) Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative (FITI) on South Korean lobbying efforts in the US describes various outreach activities that South Korea does related to think tanks.  Here is more:

The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) reported 650 political activities - by far the most of any FARA registrant working for South Korean interests in 2019.  KEI describes itself as, "the premier U.S. think tank and public outreach organization solely dedicated to helping Americans understand the breadth and important of our relations with the Republic of Korea."  KEI is the only FARA registrant working for South Korea that is considered a think tank, and the organization's reported FARA activities reflect this unique status.  Unlike other firms, KEI's activities were primarily directed at other think tanks (229 activities), universities (136 activities), and other non-profits (93 activities).

KEI conducted nearly all (229) of South Korea's outreach to think tanks, contacting dozens of think tanks in D.C., with many of those interactions being with larger think tanks like the Center for Strategic and International Studies (22 contacts), the Bookings Institution (11 contacts), and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (10 contacts).

A previous FITI report, "Foreign Funding of Think Tanks in America," found that South Korea was one of the top donors to think tanks, contributing nearly $2 million from 2014-2018.  Notably, CSIS was one of the top recipients of that funding.

 

Among other things, the report notes that Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP, which lobbies on behalf of the Korean government, attended various think tank events on behalf of Korea.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bank's Internal Think Tank Starts Lobbying for First Time Ever

While think tanks often quietly lobby the US executive and legislative branches of government, or do so more overtly via sister lobbying arms, it has been quite rare for corporate think tanks to do so, until now.  Here is more from Axios:

The JPMorgan Chase Institute — the bank's internal think tank of sorts — and its new policy arm are pushing for policy changes for the first time, the company shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: The institute is sending its recommendations to Washington, as Congress hashes out a pandemic stimulus package.

What they're saying: "Even after you account for stimulus payments, unemployment insurance, renters experienced a greater than 10% drop in income, suggesting that they are really struggling," Heather Higginbottom, president of JPMorgan Chase PolicyCenter.

  • "We're trying to use our data and analysis to inform some of those conversations," Higginbottom added.

What they're proposing:

  • Raising the federal minimum wage, though they don't say by how much.
  • Adding wage benefits for working parents — particularly women of color disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
  • Switching off expanded unemployment benefits only when certain economic conditions improve and state unemployment rates fall to a certain level.

 

The  JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) Institute, launched in 2015, describes itself a "global think tank releasing groundbreaking work using proprietary data, expertise, and market access."  Co-presidents of JPMC Institute are Chris Wheat and Fiona GriegHere is a previous Think Tank Watch post about the think tank.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about the JPMorgan Chase Policy Center which launched in 2019 and is run by Heather Higginbottom, a former Obama Administration official.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Former Think Tank President Running for Governor in Virginia

Here is more from the Washington Post:

Peter Doran, a former Washington think tank executive and author, joined the crowded race for Virginia governor this week with a promise to phase out the state income tax.

Doran is the former president of the Center for European Policy Analysis, where he used to help former Soviet bloc countries rebuild after “the ravages of socialism,” according to his biography. An Arizona native, he has lived in Virginia since graduating from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2006.

Here is a link the the homepage of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), whose current President and CEO is Dr. Alina Polyakova.  Amb. Kurt Volker, who served as US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, is a Distinguished Fellow at the think tank.

Mr. Doran, who is an expert on Russia, Ukraine, and transatlantic relations, also served as a George C. Marshall Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Think Tank Quickies (#400)

  • Former Secretary of State George Schultz, who died at 100, remained active into his 90s through a position at Stanford University's Hoover Institution think tank and various boards. 
  • New Authoritarian Influence Tracker, a project of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at GMF, catalogues the Russian and Chinese governments' activities to undermine democracy in more than 40 transatlantic countries since 2000.
  • "Sharp power," a term coined in a Dec. 2017 report by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), is being used by the Biden Administration.
  • Is there too much geographical favoritism in think tank papers?
  • Klon Kitchen, previously director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Technology Policy, has joined AEI as a resident fellow.
  • "Foreign policy as domestic policy" went from a "buzzy think tank concept to the heart of Biden's remarks in record time."
  • CNAS adjunct Jordan Schneider interviews CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine.
  • Spotted at a Wilson Center event where former Rep. Jane Harman announced her retirement as president: Justice Stephen Breyer, Ash Carter, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Roger Wicker, Reps. Karen Bass and Debbie Dingell, and Jeh Johnson.
  • The death of CAP President Neera Tanden's Twitter feed?  Is Tanden's nomination doomed?
  • 2018 flashback: The 10 names that matter on China policy.
  • Predators and Principles: Think Tank Influence, Media Visibility, and Political Partnership (dissertation by Timothy Beryl Bland of VCU.