Thursday, June 28, 2012

World Bank's Zoellick to Peterson & Belfer Center

World Bank President Robert Zoellick will be joining the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) as a distinguished fellow once he steps down as head of the World Bank on June 30.  He will jointly be working at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

PIIE is the 9th best think tank in the US based on the latest rankings.  The Belfer Center is the 25th best think tank in the US.  Zoellick is a former Research Scholar at the Belfer Center.

Zoellick was briefly the head of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in 1999, but resigned amid friction over his role as an occasional advisor to George W. Bush's presidential bid.

PIIE and the Brookings Institution are typical next steps for World Bankers.

In mid-May, Zoellick, who has served in three Republican administrations, declined to say whether he will advise presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cato Avoids Collapse; Ed Crane Out

The nine month war for Cato has ended, or so it seems.

The Associated Press reports that billionaire shareholders Charles and David Koch have an "agreement in principle" to settle two lawsuits brought by the Koch brothers over the ownership of the think tank.
The Cato Institute would get a new CEO within six months; it would be governed by member-directors; and it would no longer have shareholders. Charles Koch would no longer be a director, but David Koch would remain as one.
The agreement would mean the departure of Ed Crane, who’s been CEO for more than three decades. John Allison, the former chief executive officer of BB&T Corp., the banking and financial holding company based in Winston-Salem, N.C., will replace him.
Under the agreement, Cato’s board would have 12 directors, including David Koch, and the Koch brothers would designate an additional three directors. Allison would be an additional board member and could nominate one or two additional directors. Crane would not be a director.
John Allison, Cato's new president, is a major contributor to the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) based in Irvine, California, and reportedly gave out copies of Atlas Shrugged to his fellow executives.  In addition, all employees at BB&T got a 30-page pamphlet describing BB&T's philosophy and values: reason, independent thinking, and decisions based on facts.

Here is how the New York Times described Mr. Allison in 2009:
Mr. Allison of BB&T has the tall, lean frame, copper-colored hair and confident demeanor of many of Ms. Rand’s fictional heroes, including John Galt — a look “which would not seek forgiveness or grant it.”
He also has a résumé befitting a Rand prophet. He started at BB&T, once known as the Branch Banking and Trust Company, in 1971 and became chief executive in 1989, when the bank had $4.7 billion in assets.
By the time he retired as C.E.O. in December, he had overseen 60 bank and savings-institution acquisitions and turned BB&T into the 11th-largest bank in the nation, with $152 billion in assets, according to the bank.
A 60-year-old who speaks in a rapid-fire Southern accent, Mr. Allison says the current financial crisis is primarily the government’s fault. He criticizes the Fed as trying to manipulate normal business cycles and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as facilitating mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them.
Here is what David Weigel at Slate says about the new Cato-Koch agreement.

Laurie Bennett at says that the Koch's won this battle.

Politico reports that the agreement is expected to pave the way for the Kochs (or at least David Koch) to resume donating to the think tank, which stopped receiving Koch money as tensions increased in recent years.

Click here to see a video of Cato Chairman Bob Levy explaining the settlement.

Based on the latest records, Ed Crane receives a base salary of $453,918.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Steve Coll Stepping Down From NAF

Steve Coll today announced his intention to step down as President of New America Foundation (NAF) later this year.  Coll has led NAF for the last five years.

Coll, who is working on a follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Ghost Wars, said that the amount of international travel required for his new book "will make it virtually impossible" for him to continue serving as President.

NAF said that when a new president is in place, Coll will transition into a Senior Fellow position with NAF's National Security Studies Program, which is directed by Peter Bergen.

Here is what the Washington Post says:
Coll, who spent 20 years at The Washington Post and remains a staff writer for The New Yorker, is often credited with higher visibility of New America, in part, by entering more journalists into the policy arena than any other think tank.
NAF said that the Board-led search for a new president is underway and is being chaired by David Bradley, Chairman and Owner of Atlantic Media Company.  Bradley, who founded and owned The Advisory Board Company and the Corporate Executive Board, is a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Shea reminds us of David Bradley's "aggressive and unorthodox" recruiting strategies that are detailed in this Washington Post article by Howard Kurtz.

Based on the latest salary information, Steve Coll receives a base salary of $296,244.

Notable NAF donors include: Craigslist, Ben & Jerry's, Visa, Microsoft, Google, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  A full funding list can be found here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On UK Think Tank Funding Transparency

Who Funds You, a project of Political Innovation, asked 20 leading UK think tanks and political campaigns to disclose their major funders.  Click here to see the results.

Here is what Martin Bright of The Spectator has to say about the new website:

Who Funds You has a scoring system based on the following criteria:

1. Does the organisation disclose its income?
2. Are financial details published online?
3. Are individual donors named and the amount of each donation published?
4. Are corporate donors named and the amount of each donation published?

This exercise seems to demonstrate that left-leaning think tanks are more transparent than right-wing ones. The Adam Smith Institute, ResPublica and the Tax Payers’ Alliance don’t appear to publish any information about their funding. This compares unfavourably to Compass, the IPPR, the New Economics Foundation, the Resolution Foundation and Progress, who are all models of transparency.

I would be very interested to know how much of this has to do with which party is in power. Were the left-wing think tanks quite so transparent when the stakes were higher? Perhaps they were. But it strikes me that it is only human to believe that generosity motivates donations in opposition while sinister motives are attributed to those who give to think tanks close to government. It’s just possible that the secrecy is driven by a desire to protect donors from people jumping to conclusions? Of course, it could just be rich people trying to buy influence.
Also, click here, a website called Who's Lobbying, to see which think tanks are lobbying in the UK.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jon Huntsman Joins Brookings Institution

Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has joined the Brookings Institution today as a Distinguished Fellow.  Huntsman is a former Governor of Utah and former Ambassador to China.

Here is what Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post has to say about the Huntsman's decision to go to Brookings:
In some sense this is appropriate. He’s too pompous and boring to take his anti-Republican condescension to MSNBC. After a stint in the Obama administration and his sniping at conservatives for being anti- science, he’s not welcome in Republican circles.
But in another sense it’s a peculiar choice. Brookings features some of the more highly regarded national security gurus and anti-isolationists from the center of the political spectrum including Ken Pollack, Robert Kagan and Ben Wittes. How is Huntsman, who has taken a knee-jerk anti-internationalist position more akin to the left-wing Center for American Progress, going to fit in? Meanwhile on economics he’s ditched his preference for cap-and-trade and sounds like the Cato crowd (flat tax, no deductions).
Truth be told, hardly anyone is all that interested in hearing from Huntsman. On the other hand, if he swapped parties and ran as a Democrat, he might regain some currency. Come to think of it, if that strategy is to work, there is no better place to start than Brookings.
Brookings scholars certainly cheered him on during his recent presidential bid.

Think tanks are nothing new to Huntsman.  He was the Founding Director of the Pacific Council on International Policy, which was founded in 1995 in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  He has also served on boards such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Pacific Forum, Asia Society in New York, National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), and the Brookings Institution's Asia Policy Board.

In more Huntsman family news, his daughter, Abby Huntsman just signed on with Huffington Post to host a show on HuffPost Live.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Think Tank Quickies #9

  • China launches climate change think tank.
  • CNAS fellow on how think tanks make the world work. 
  • Culinary think tank El Bulli Foundation accepts ideas from world's top business schools. 
  • Observations about the CNAS and CSIS proposals for defense cut spending.
  • 5 tips for think tanks using social media. 
  • Which think tanker is the best foreign policy tweeter? 
  • David Schorr on think tank tradecraft
  • R Street Institute is looking for an Operations Director.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Brookings or Heritage: Who Has More Clout?

Based on Klout, a company that provides social media analytics to measure influence across social networks, the Heritage Foundation has more clout.  Its Klout score (which range from 1 to 100) is 66, while Brookings' Klout score is 61.

The score is based on data taken from sites such as Facebook and Twitter and measures the size of a person's (or organization's) network, the content created, and how people interact with that content.

It should be noted that the accuracy of Klout scores is often questioned.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cool Map: Bilderberg Group's Think Tank Network

This chart shows the Bilderberg Group's members' connections to various corporations, charities, policy groups, think tanks, and the media.

You can click here for a bigger image.

The latest Bilderberg Group meeting held May 31 - June 3, 2012 in Chantilly, Virginia had several think tank participants, including:
  • Fouad Ajami: Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
  • Christopher DeMuth: Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute
  • Marie-Josée Kravis: Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
  • Ariel Levite: Nonresident Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP)
  • Richard Perle: Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
  • Dennis Ross: Counselor, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP)
  • Kevin Warsh: Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution
The full list of participants can be found here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Brookings Fellow Fired for Attacking Romney?

Was Diane Ravitch, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, fired for making comments that were critical of Romney?

In her blog, Ravitch speculates that her recent attacks on Mitt Romney may have led to her being let go by Russ Whitehurst, Senior Fellow of Governance Studies and Director of the Brown Center for Education Policy at Brookings. On May 22, 2012, Whitehurst was named as a committee member of Mitt Romney's Education Policy Advisory Group.

This apparently is the letter that Whitehurst sent to Ravitch announcing that she is being "fired."
Dear Diane,
If you have already received a communication from Brookings I apologize for the redundancy, but I wanted to make sure you were aware that you will not be reappointed as a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The background is that I, along with other center and program directors, was asked to review nonresident scholar appointments and make recommendations for reappointment based on past and planned activity. It has been many years since you were involved in a Governance Studies event, report, or commentary and there are no plans of which I’m aware for any such activity.
Thus I had no basis for recommending your reappointment, and I did not. I took the same position with respect to all nonresident scholars who are associated with the Brown Center but have been inactive.
It is not my place to speak on behalf of Brookings or Governance Studies, so on a personal note let me thank you for your contributions to research and thinking on education policy during the time when you were active at Brookings. One of the first things I did to try to get smarter about education when I was nominated to be assistant secretary for OERI was obtain and devour the Brookings Papers on Education Policy that you edited. There was nothing more valuable.
Best wishes,
Grover (Russ) Whitehurst

You can view the Ravitch's Romney attacks on her blog and in this piece for The New Review of Books.

In her blog, Ravitch talks about being terminated from Brookings for being "inactive" in Brookings debates.  Among other things, the blog notes that when she proposed to launch her book "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education" at Brookings two years ago, she was told that she would have to rent the auditorium "and pay a variety of expenses, which would amount to thousands of dollars."  She declined and instead accepted an invitation from Rick Hess to present her book at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  She said that AEI paid all of her expenses, including travel to DC.  You can watch that event here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Think Tank Quickies #8

  • New Asian think tank Fung Global Institute has launched.
  • IBM's think tank gets a new leader.
  • "Think Tank 20" on the new challenges for the global economy.
  • Is Ploughshares using think tanks to influence US nuclear weapons policy? 
  • The Washington Diplomat on the US Institute of Peace (USIP). 
  • The Koch brothers new website,
  • Think tank MassINC defends anonymous donors. 
  • Who took the "think" out of think tanks?  (An attack on conservative think tanks.)
  • Could crowd-driven think tanks be weapons of mass instruction? 
  • Marion O. Sandler, billionaire funder of Center for American Progress (CAP), died. 
  • Former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) has joined AEI.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Does the Media Shun Most Think Tanks?

As Patrick Pexton, Ombudsman of the Washington Post points out:
Or look at think tanks that get cited and quoted in The Post. The mainstream ones do great: the left-of-center Brookings Institution 551 times, the right-of-center American Enterprise Institute 284 times and Heritage Foundation 235 times. The U.S. Institute of Peace, one of the most interesting and innovative “think and do” tanks in the city, supported by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress: three mentions in two years.
Should the media cover more "unconventional" and "outsider" think tanks?

BPC = Only DC Think Tank to Actively Promote Bipartisanship?

In a recent job posting for a senior energy analyst, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) says that it is "the only Washington, DC-based think tank to promote bipartisanship."

Can you think of any others?

BPC, which formally launched in 2007, was founded by four former Senate Majority Leaders: Howard Baker (R-TN), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Bob Dole (R-KS), and George Mitchell (D-ME).

BPC's current president is Jason Grumet, an advisor on energy and the environment for the 2008 presidential campaign on then-Sen. Barack Obama.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Who Will Be Heritage Foundation's New President?

Today the Washington Post reports about a new generation of leaders coming to think tank land.  The article also notes that Heritage President Edwin Feulner will be stepping down soon.
In the past 18 months, many of the leaders associated with institutions such as the Rand Corp., the Center for New American Security, the Asia Society, the Urban Institute and several other think tanks have stepped down or announced plans to do so.
Even Edwin Feulner — a founding trustee when the Heritage Foundation opened its doors in 1973 and president since 1977 — will be exiting.
Although Heritage has not announced a successor, it says a process for Feulner, 70, to step down is likely to be announced later this year. David Addington, who served as vice-presidential chief of staff to Richard B. Cheney, was recently added to the think tank’s two-person executive team, a sign that some say makes him a primary internal candidate for the position.
Besides Addington, any guesses on Heritage's new president?  Based on the latest figures, Feulner's annual income from Heritage was $947,999.