Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Scholar Distancing Himself From "Partisan" CAP

Think Tank Watch just found this on WikiLeaks.  It is an email message from Korin Davis, the Academic Programs Manager at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth (WCEG; a think tank originally housed within the Center for American Progress) to Heather Boushey, the Executive Director and Chief Economist at WCEG:

You asked me to send you an email summarizing our support of Danny Yagan and his decisions regarding that funding. In brief, Danny Yagan was awarded a $15,000 grant as one of our 2014 young scholars. The grant was announced in June and the check was mailed in early September, at which point Danny had joined the faculty of UC Berkeley. We recently learned that he had not cashed the check because he was surprised to find that it came from CAP and was reticent to personally accept money from a partisan organization. He asked if we could route the funding through UC Berkeley, so as to alter the optics. He is more comfortable if "CAP" is supporting UC Berkeley, rather than him directly. Processing payment this way means that UC Berkeley will take a portion of the funding, as is the case with all institutional grant arrangements. Danny was willing to relinquish a sizeable portion of his funding (I don't know the exact percentage) in order to distance himself from CAP.

Here is a response from Elisabeth Jacobs, Senior Director of Policy at WCEG:

Thanks for this, Korin. I think the only other point worth (re)emphasizing here is the fact that Danny is (as best as I can tell, at least) "on our side." In other words, my sense is that he's not someone who takes issue with what CAP does or the positions they take. He's just very wary of the implications of the affiliation for his professional career, given that he is an early-career academic, with a great deal of potential in elite academic economic circles. In other words, he's got a lot to lose, and sees CAP as a risk. The upside: He doesn't see Equitable Growth as the same risk. We need to preserve that! 

Danny Yagan was one of 16 scholars who received a WCEG grant in 2014 "to accelerate cutting-edge analysis in whether and how structural changes in the US economy affect economic growth."

At that time, WCEG, which was founded by John Podesta, was housed within the Center for American Progress.  Now it is independent of CAP.  However, that does not mean it is an independent think tank.  It is absolutely a liberal think tank and still has extremely close ties to Democrats (and CAP).

After all, Mr. Podesta is Chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and Heather Boushey is the Chief Economist for Clinton's transition team.