Sunday, November 6, 2016

DC Insider Speaks Candidly About Pay-for-Play at Think Tanks

Investigative reporter Ken Silverstein recently spoke with an unnamed think tank insider who has been a donor to think tanks and held multiple board positions at various think tanks.  Here are some excerpts:

He who pays the bills, calls the tune, as much as people try to deny it. There’s a vicious competition in this town for money. The foreign segment is relatively new and important. Before most of that money was Israeli but now it’s much more diverse and you begin to see more and more donors pushing for very distinct and specific causes.
The competition is getting tougher and tougher and so think tanks are becoming more and more reckless. Things are done now that would’ve been impossible in the past. The boundaries are being eliminated.
The means of payment are sophisticated. There is no straightforward bribery. Maybe you work at a think tank but you also have a position at another unrelated company or maybe you have a girlfriend who has a business that’s totally unrelated to the think tank. Maybe you have a company that holds events around town and that company gets hired and is overpaid for some unrelated work by 25%. The money doesn’t go directly to the think tank, it goes to one of these other projects and the money moves from some offshore Singapore account to that unrelated company account.
Think tanks are now weapons of personal and mass destruction. They have become part of the lobbying community; that was always the case to some extent but now they’ve become very specific lobbying weapons.
Governments and gangsters are the two biggest clients for these think tanks — not corporations but governments, and not European Union governments but Third World governments.

Wow.  That is some pretty strong language.

Mr. Silverstein said that more is coming soon from this person (will he go on record?), so we are definitely looking out for that...

In the meantime, here (and here and here and here and here and here and here) is some more from Mr. Silverstein on pay-for-play at think tanks.

Pay-for-play at think tanks has gotten a significant amount of renewed attention after a damning New York Times exposé in August unveiled fresh examples of just how rampant the problem has become.