Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Why Eric Cantor Did Not Join a Think Tank (Yet)

Think Tank Watch is fairly certain that former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was wooed by several think tanks, but alas, he has chosen to work for investment bank Moelis & Co.

At Moelis, Cantor will have a base salary of $400,000 for this year and next year, as well as $1.4 million in signing bonuses this year and $1.6 million in incentive compensation next year.

Although more than a dozen think tank heads make more than $400,000 per year, very few get sizable signing bonuses like those seen at investment banks such as Moelis.

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, the highest paid think tanker, makes around $800,000 on an annualized basis.  Think tanking was just not lucrative enough for Cantor.

Of course, Cantor could always join a think tank in the future while still holding his investment bank position.  Making that scenario more likely is the fact that he will be helping launch Moelis's first Washington office.

Numerous former members of Congress work at think tanks while simultaneously holding other higher-paid positions.  Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on think tanks and members of Congress.

Which think tank would Eric Cantor likely join?  One possibility is American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  Think Tank Watch estimates that Cantor could probably pull in another $150,000 to $250,000 as a think tank figurehead.

Here is Think Tank Watch's latest think tank salary list.