Thursday, September 24, 2015

Congressional Testimony by Think Tanker Forces Funding Disclosures

Here is what the conservative Free Beacon is reporting about the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution:
The Brookings Institution, one of the country’s top left-leaning think tanks, has for the first time admitted to Congress that it receives millions of dollars every year from foreign governments, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, according to official disclosure forms obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The disclosure of these figures comes as a result of a recently implemented federal law mandating that those who testify before Congress reveal any potential conflicts created as a result of funding by foreign entities.
The disclosure form, which is presented to Congress before an individual testifies, reveals that Brookings received nearly $15 million from the Embassy of Qatar between 2013 and 2015. Brookings also maintains a facility in the Qatari capital of Doha, where Hamas is known to operate freely.
The think tank received another $1,920,000 from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates between those same years.
These disclosures came as a result of a Sept. 17 congressional hearing at which Suzanne Maloney, a Brookings senior fellow, offered testimony on Iran’s relationship with the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The forms further reveal that, in addition to the millions in foreign donations, Brookings has received federal grants.
Both the foreign donations and federal grants “were for independent research and analysis related to an number of subject matters,” according to Maloney. A “portion” of these funds may have been “related to the hearing,” which discussed the ways in which Hezbollah stands to profit from Iran in the wake of the recent nuclear deal.
When questioned about the foreign donations by the New York Times last year, Martin Indyk, a Brookings scholar who has also worked with the Obama administration, defended the practice and maintained that it does not bias his views.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on the new congressional rules on think tank funding disclosure.  Think Tank Watch has predicted that fewer think tankers will be testifying before Congress so they do not have to disclose the sources of their funds.

In fiscal year 2014, Brookings said it received 58% of its funding from grants, 37% from "contributions and endowments," and 5% from publications and "miscellaneous."

Out of the grants that Brookings receives, 28% are from foundations, 9% from foreign governments, 7% from corporations, 6% from individuals, 6% from "other," and 2% from the US government.

Here is a historical look from the Washington Post about the Brookings' funding.  And here is a Washington Post piece on how donors may have an impact on the research agenda at the world's #1 think tank.

Think Tank Watch should point out that it is already common knowledge that Brookings was receiving millions of dollars from these foreign governments and others.

Also, as we previously noted, investigative reporter Brooke Williams, who helped write the influential New York Times piece last year titled "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks," created a website earlier this year where one can search and explore foreign government contributions to think tanks.  That site ( can be found here.