Saturday, September 13, 2014

Congressman Targets Brookings for Qatar Funding

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote a strongly-worded letter to Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott this week, saying he was "deeply concerned" by last Sunday's New York Times piece on think tank funding by foreign governments which said that Brookings has accepted $14.8 million from Qatar.

Rep. Wolf says that Qatar is a country with a "troubling human rights record as well as a history of funding terrorist groups, including al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria and Libya, the Taliban and Hamas."

He called on Brookings to "end the practice of accepting money from Qatar and other foreign governments."

Eric Lipton, co-author of the New York Times piece on think tank funding by foreign governments, has an article today on Rep. Wolf's letter titled "Lawmaker Assails Foreign Donations to Think Tanks."

According to Lipton, Brookings receives about 12 percent of its annual budget from foreign governments.  [If Brookings were to institute a new policy of not taking foreign government money, it would be a big blow, but the venerable think tank would still have plenty of money to operate and thrive.]

Brookings is currently seeking to raise $600 million in a fundraising initiative called the Second Century Campaign for the think tank's centenary in 2016.

The NYT investigation from last week found that at least 64 governments, state-controlled entities, or government officials had given a minimum of $92 million to a group of 28 major US-based think tanks in the last four years.

Here is Think Tank Watch's list of how people reacted to the NYT piece on think tank funding.