Thursday, June 27, 2013

Taiwan's Deep Connections to AEI

Eli Clifton of The Nation has a new piece titled "The Secret Foreign Donors Behind the American Enterprise Institute," which details the money it has received from Taiwan and others.  Here are some highlights:

  • The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has emerged as one of the Beltway’s most consistent advocates for the sale of advanced fighter jets to Taiwan. Previously undisclosed tax filings reveal that while issuing research reports and publishing articles on US-Taiwan relations, AEI received a $550,000 contribution from the government of Taiwan, a source of funding the think tank has never publicly acknowledged.
  •  In 2009, AEI, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, received the contribution from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), Taiwan’s equivalent to an embassy.
  •  AEI’s “schedule of contributors,” a form typically not intended for public disclosure but acquired through a filing error, names TECRO as the organization’s fourth-largest contributor during the 2009 tax year, following Donors Capital Fund ($2,000,000), Paul Singer ($1,100,000) and the Kern Family Foundation ($1,071,912). The US Chamber of Commerce contributed $473,000, making it AEI’s seventh-largest donor.
  •  In 2009, the same year in which Ma hosted the delegation from AEI and the think tank reported the $550,000 contribution from TECRO, AEI employees issued a number of written products praising Taiwan’s government and urging the White House to approve arms sales to the island state.
  •  In a November 3, 2009, article for, AEI resident fellow Daniel Blumenthal, the current director of the think tank’s Asian Studies group, slammed the Obama administration’s Asia policy for “the absence of any agenda on Taiwan.”

The article questions whether or not AEI needs to register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) as representing the interests of a foreign government.  There are numerous think tanks that receive foreign money, and to my knowledge, no think tank has ever filed under FARA.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on think tanks, FARA, and foreign lobbying.