Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Think Tank Heads Get Paid big Money for Speeches

Think Tank Watch has long documented the generous pay that many top think tank officials take home, but a new trend is arising that makes their salaries look like chump change.

More and more think tank heads are joining the paid speaking circuit, bringing in tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in supplemental income each year.

One example is New America head Anne-Marie Slaughter, who gets between $30,000 and $50,000 per speech, according to Foreign Policy.

Another is Arthur Brooks, President of American Enterprise Institute (AEI), who has a booking fee of $20,000 to $30,000, according to All American Speakers Bureau.

Strobe Talbott, head of the Brookings Institution, has a booking fee between $10,000 to $20,000, according to All American Speakers Bureau.

Speakerpedia, a directory of professional speakers, lists dozens of current and former think tankers seeking paid gigs.  Examples include:

  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Norm Ornstein, AEI
  • Michael Barone, AEI
  • Peter Singer, New America
  • Robert Kagan, Brookings
  • Scott Aughenbaugh, CSIS
  • Aaron David Miller, Wilson Center
  • Stephen Moore, Heritage Foundation
  • Kenneth Pollack, Brookings
  • Sebastian Mallaby, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
  • Uri Dadush, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Patrick Michaels, Cato Institute
  • David Wessel, Brookings
  • Peter Wallison, AEI
  • Gene Healy, Cato Institute
  • Edward Crane, Cato
  • Kevin Hassett, AEI
  • Ted Piccone, Brookings
  • Marina Ottaway, Wilson Center
  • Fiona Hill, Brookings
  • Dan Ikenson, Cato
  • Ryan Radia, Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)
  • Michael Tanner, Cato
  • Thomas Sanderson, CSIS
  • Peter Goettler, Cato
  • Daniel Pearson, Cato
  • Frederick Hess, AEI
  • Neal McCluskey, Cato
  • Matthew Feeney, Cato
  • Marc Scribner, CEI
  • Angela Maria Kelley, CAP
  • Emma Ashford, Cato
  • Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Cato
  • Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato
  • Emily Ekins, Cato
  • Michael Strain, AEI
  • Anisha Singh, CAP
  • Adam Bates, Cato
  • Nicole Kaeding, Cato
  • Christopher Preble, Cato
  • Katherine Zimmerman, AEI
  • William Niskanen, Cato
  • Roger Noriega, AEI
  • Genevieve Wood, Heritage Foundation
  • Daniel Griswold, Cato
  • Stephen Slivinski, Cato
  • Mark Moller, Cato
  • Todd Harrison, CSIS
  • Timothy Lynch, Cato
  • Linda Killian, Wilson Center

While select think tank heads typically can command high fees, those lower on the think tank totem pole get significantly less.  But even the highest paid think tankers get peanuts compared to the most in-demand speakers.

One of the few exceptions is former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at Brookings, who pulls down a nice six-figure fee per speech.

In recent months think tanks have been tightening their rules on outside work by scholars, particularly in light of the New York Times expose last month on pay-for-play at major think tanks.  But the speaking circuit generally does not fall under the purview of most think tank policies on outside engagements.