Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On the Lexington Institute & Insider Information

Many think tankers, including the heads of think tanks, are involved in various non-think tank projects such as running or consulting for businesses.

Here is an interesting article from Politico about Loren Thompson, COO of the Virginia-based think tank Lexington Institute, and his non-think tank job:
The 501(c)(3) Lexington Institute doesn’t disclose its donors. But Thompson said it receives contributions from defense giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others, which pay Lexington to “comment on defense.”  The institute brought in $2.4 million in 2009, according to its financial statements.
 Thompson also heads the for-profit defense consulting firm Source Associates, which he said offers “proprietary insights and intelligence.”  A Harper’s Magazine story last April took Thompson to task for promoting his private defense clients in the public domain.
He’s long been on the side of Boeing, which is a client. And he’s dead-set against a win by EADS, which is not among Lexington’s benefactors.
In the first run at bidding for the tanker contract, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) unearthed e-mail between Thompson and an Air Force public affairs officer in which Thompson agreed to promote tanker modernization.

In the second go-round, after Boeing lost the competition, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and other House appropriators publicly fumed that Thompson received information about the Air Force’s decision before they got it.
Here is a link to the Harper's Magazine story mentioned above (subscription needed) written by Ken Silverstein, that calls the Lexington Institute "the defense industry's pay-to-play ad agency."

Based on the latest available reports, Thompson is paid a base salary of $359,000 from Lexington Institute.