Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Head of Think Tank EPI to Step Down

It looks like 2017 is shaping up to be the a major year for turnover of think tank presidents.

New presidents are expected at both the Brookings Institution and Heritage Foundation, and now, Lawrence Mishel, the longtime president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), will step down at the end of 2017, according to the think tank.

A search committee led by EPI's Board of Directors will work to find a new president.  Mishel will remain at EPI as a senior economist.

Here is more from a press release:
Mishel first joined EPI in 1987 as research director, and assumed the role of president in 2002. In the three decades he has been with the organization, Mishel helped build EPI into the nation’s premier research organization focused on the labor market, inequality, and living standards for low- and middle-income families. He was a coauthor on every edition of EPI’s flagship publication, the State of Working America, a cornerstone of EPI research that was published every other year from 1988 to 2012.

In late March, EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey announced his retirement after 15 years at the think tank.  EPI said that in anticipation of Eisenbrey's retirement, it has hired two labor lawyers (Celine McNicholas and Marine von Wilpert) who will be a part of the Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages.

The Worker Rights and Wages Policy Watch, an online tracker providing up-to-the-minute updates on policy actions that affect working people, was recently launched under that Project.

In related EPI news, former Obama Administration Secretary of Labor Tom Perez has joined the think tank's Board of Directors.  He joins three other former labor secretaries on the board - Robert Reich and Alexis Herman (Clinton Administration) and Ray Marshall (Carter Administration).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coolest Think Tank of the Month: Happiness Research Institute

Congratulations to the Happiness Research Institute (HRI) for being the coolest think tank of the month.  HRI, a think tank based in Copenhagen, Denmark dedicated to exploring why some societies are happier than others, also acts as a consultancy to various businesses and foreign governments.

HRI's clients include Random House, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of State for Happiness Office, Carlsberg Group, City of Aarhus, University of Copenhagen, City of Copenhagen, Nordic Council of Ministers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Danica Pension, and LEO Innovation Lab.

HRI also says that it has advised the state of Jalisco in Mexico, the Royal couple of the Netherlands, and the city of Goyang in South Korea.

Some of its major publications include the Job Satisfaction Index (2016 version here) and Sustainable Happiness (here).

In 2015 HRI released a study that said staying off a Facebook can actually make you happier.  Interestingly, HRI CEO Meik Wiking notes enthusiastically that he is now on Facebook.

Here is Mr. Wiking's 2016 TEDx talk on the dark side of happiness.  His new book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, can be found here.  Does Mr. Wiking have the coolest job in the world (i.e., getting paid to study happiness)?

Interestingly, the UAE now says that it is setting up its own Happiness Research Institute, aided by Mr. Wiking in Denmark.  It will be a collaborative effort by the UAE University and the National Programme for Happiness and Positivity.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Comey Shared Secrets with Brookings Institution Scholar

A variety of think tank scholars are friends with people in high places, allowing them to gain access to secrets about the internal workings of the White House and broader US government.  Here is an example from The New York Times:

Mr. Comey has spoken privately of his concerns that the contacts from Mr. Trump and his aides were inappropriate, and how he felt compelled to resist them.
“He had to throw some brushback pitches to the administration,” Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Mr. Comey’s, said in interviews.
Mr. Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the editor in chief of the Lawfare blog and a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, recalls a lunch he had with Mr. Comey in March at which Mr. Comey told him he had spent the first two months of Mr. Trump’s administration trying to preserve distance between the F.B.I. and the White House and educating it on the proper way to interact with the bureau.
Mr. Wittes said he never intended to publicly discuss his conversations with Mr. Comey. But after The New York Times reported earlier this month that shortly after his inauguration Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey for a loyalty pledge, Mr. Wittes said he saw Mr. Trump’s behavior in a “more menacing light” and decided to speak out.

Here is Benjamin Wittes post in Lawfare entitled "What James Comey Told Me About Donald Trump."  Here is a link to PBS Newshour's interview with Wittes, in which he notes that he is a longtime friend of Comey but not among his closest friends or one of his intimate advisors.  He also said that they "periodically" have lunch.

Besides being editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings, Mr. Wittes is also co-chair of the Hoover Institution's Working Group on National Security, Technology, and Law.

And for longtime readers of Think Tank Watch, you may remember that Mr. Wittes was a part of the highly esteemed Brookings Fight Club.

Think Tank Quickies (#272)

  • USIP chief Nancy Lindborg featured in Washington Life Magazine.
  • CNAS has launched a new Transatlantic Security Program and a new project on Evolving the Future Force.
  • Matt Bruening building left-wing think tank not reliant on corporate donors.
  • How women should respond to all-male think tank panels, via Kara Alaimo.
  • Eddie Williams, who ran leading black think tank for decades (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies), dies.
  • AEI's Charles Murray gives introduction to The Bell Curve.
  • RAND Corp. on how information is being weaponized.
  • CAP's chief Neera Tanden protesting outside of the White House.
  • Bishop Jakes has global think tank?
  • Peter Navarro called the Peterson Institute the "pimps of globalization."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Amid Turmoil, White House Staffers Sending Resumes to Think Tanks

With all the turmoil in the White House, some Trump Administration officials are starting to look for employment elsewhere, including in think tank land.  Here is more from Time:

Senior officials walk through the building with funereal looks on their faces. Others complain that the White House is being "paralyzed" by the commotion. "He likes everyone always being on thin ice," explains one adviser of the President's management style. A few West Wing aides have begun to look for lifeboats, shopping résumés to think tanks, super PACs and corporate communications firms in the market for anyone who can make sense of the White House's bizarre workings. When news broke on May 15 that the President had revealed sensitive classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian ambassador in an Oval Office meeting, one White House staffer sent a message to a friend outside the building: FML, read the text--abbreviated millennial slang for an unprintable curse on one's own life.

The good news for those searching for a think tank position in Washington: Think Tank Watch hears that there are a few positions open at the Heritage Foundation...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bannon Pulls Out of Brookings Speech

Here is more from Amanda Terkel in HuffPost:
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon withdrew from a planned appearance at one of Washington’s premiere mainstream think tanks after scholars expressed alarm that the institution would be giving legitimacy and a friendly forum to one of the most controversial members of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Over the past month, staff members at the center-left Brookings Institution became aware that the think tank’s leadership had invited Bannon to address its board of trustees meeting in June, according to multiple Brookings staff members, who requested anonymity to speak openly with HuffPost. Because it would be a board meeting, it would not have been open to the public.
David Nassar, vice president of communications at Brookings, confirmed they extended the invitation.
Scholars at all levels of the organization developed concerns about Bannon’s appearance and whether staff would be able to press him and engage in an open dialogue. They had the opportunity to express their worries with Brookings President Strobe Talbott at three in-person meetings last week, Nassar said.
On Wednesday, Brookings informed staff that Bannon had decided not to attend. They did not state a reason for his decision. The White House did not return a request for comment on why Bannon backed out.

The Brookings Institution is certainly hostile territory for the Trump Administration and Steve Bannon, and numerous scholars at the Democratic think tank have bashed Trump and his allies on a number of occasions.

Turkey Meddling in US Think Tank's Affairs?

Turkish President Recep Erdogan visited Washington, DC on Tuesday and while there was no riot on "Think Tank Row" like last year's visit (see here), Turkey appears to be stirring up some new think tank controversy.  Here is more from Amberin Zaman in Al-Monitor:

[There has been] intense speculation whether any think tank would dare to invite Erdogan during his brief stint in the capital to meet with President Donald Trump today. Turkish think tank SETA and the Atlantic Council have stepped up to the plate. Erdogan will speak at a closed session co-hosted by them at the Turkish ambassador’s residence after his noon encounter with Trump, and tongues are wagging.
It’s hardly unusual that SETA would make room for the Turkish leader. The outfit has been long mentored by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and before the government’s recent free fall into authoritarianism, SETA was well respected for its high quality if occasionally ideologically tinged output.
The Atlantic Council’s alleged cozying up to the Erdogan regime is another matter. The incestuous relations between some Washington think tanks and foreign governments that are said to be greased by plenty of dollars is well-covered ground. Still, allegations that the Atlantic Council had bowed to Turkish pressure and excluded speakers, including a member of its own staff, at its yearly energy summit held in Istanbul in April have left some think tankers clutching their stomachs.

Turkish government-linked and pro-government conglomerates were among sponsors of the summit, themed “Strengthening Transatlantic Engagement with a Turbulent Region.” They included the state-owned Halkbank, whose deputy general manager is sitting in a New York jail over his alleged connections to money laundering for Iran, and construction giants Limak, Calik and MNG holding. Erdogan was the star draw of the event.
In separate conversations with Al-Monitor, four sources with intimate knowledge of the summit’s arrangements asserted that the claims of Turkish government meddling were true. On condition of anonymity, they said the alleged targets of Turkish objections were both Turks — and women.
One was the highly respected Turkish journalist Asli Aydintasbas, who writes for the opposition daily Cumhuriyet and is a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. The other was the Atlantic Council’s own Naz Durakoglu, a former State Department staffer under the Obama administration.

The article goes on to note that the Atlantic Council leadership is "unruffled" by Turkey's alleged pressure, and "drew up a detailed memo for Erdogan offering advice on how to handle" his meeting with Donald Trump.

A link to the above-mentioned energy summit in Istanbul, Turkey from April 27-28, 2017 can be found here.  Sponsors of that event also included Chevron, BP, Turkish Airlines, and Noble Energy.

Atlantic Council's donors include the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, which gives between $250,000 and $999,999 to the think tank.

We should also note that while there were no riots on Think Tank Row, there were protests just up the street (on Embassy Row) outside of the Turkish Embassy where nine people were injured.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Think Tank Quickies (#271)

  • Reproducibility crisis in research studies.
  • Former director of research at the Heritage Foundation, James Wallner (now an adjunct professor at Catholic University), on think tanks and the future of politics.
  • China tightens rules on Chinese think tanks.
  • What kind of think tanks does China want to establish, via The Diplomat. 
  • China's quest for its own Brookings Institution or Chatham House in vain?
  • Kate O'Beirne, former Heritage Foundation VP of government relations, passes away.
  • Amy Moritz Ridenour, a veteran leader in the conservative movement who testified in Congress about the illegal lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff, who had used her think tank (National Center for Public Policy Research) as a conduit in his influence-peddling scheme, passes away.
  • Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) has 18 think tanks.
  • Jeet Heer: "Best part of my latest article in the New Republic is it destroys any chance I'll ever get a job in an American think tank." 
  • Steve Pieczenik: Think tanks in Washington are nursing homes for people who can't get a job elsewhere.

Monday, May 15, 2017

F.H. Buckley: The Right's Think Tanks Have Stopped Thinking

The legitimacy of think tanks has eroded over the years for numerous reasons, any many continue to view think tanks with deep skepticism.

Here are some excerpts from a new piece by F.H. Buckley in the New York Post entitled "How the Right's Think Tanks Stopped Thinking," detailing some recent concerns about conservative think tanks:

You’ll find the same kind of creative destruction in the idea factories on the right, in their think tanks and little magazines. The Heritage Foundation lost its president last week, but had lost its intellectual edge years before. Its moment, and that of the other great conservative think tanks, had passed. They had had a few great ideas, back in the day — then became prisoners of their beautiful orthodoxies. But what worked in 1980 no longer worked in 2016, for they missed what had changed in the interim.
That Obama putdown of Mitt Romney could be applied to them: The 1980s were calling and wanted their policies back.
The conservative think tanks ignored this. They told us that they were conservatism’s brains. But the brains had stopped working, and they had become the movement’s stomach. They gorged on the money from conservative donors, as Jeb Bush had, with about the same political impact.
They told the donors they were scholars who would simply sit around and think conservative thoughts. But, as any scholar will tell you, it’s more enjoyable not to think at all. And so the idea factories became the front for their fund-raising operations.
Like generals fighting the last war, these think tanks failed to recognize that an entirely new set of challenges demanded an entirely new set of politics, represented by a President Trump whom they loathed. What they forgot is the Red Queen effect (from “Through the Looking Glass”): When your opponents can react to your ideas, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”
Other think tanks, such as the liberal Brookings Institution, read what the conservatives had written, reacted, and became go-to places for smart ideas. The conservative think tanks didn’t return the compliment, and were left behind.

F.H. Buckley is a Foundation Professor at George Mason University's Scalia School of Law.  He is also a Senior Editor at The American Spectator and a columnist for the New York Post.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

MGM Resorts Starts New Policy Think Tank

Casinos are not what first comes to mind when thinking about the establishment of think tanks, but that notion may be changing.

MGM Resorts International, the global hospitality and entertainment company which operates destination resorts such as Bellagio and Mandalay Bay, has started a new public policy think tank.

Here is more:
MGM Resorts International and UNLV are partnering up to create a think tank that will seek bipartisan solutions to various economic, social, political and workplace issues.
The MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute at UNLV — co-chaired by retired Sen. Harry Reid and former House Speaker John Boehner — will concentrate on comprehensive, authentic and relevant national and international policy issues that impact the travel, tourism, hospitality and gaming industries and the global communities in which they operate.
The development of the institute is part of MGM Resorts’ continuing efforts to expand its leadership in extensive conversations on matters of public policy and will continue to strengthen UNLV’s engagement on a wide variety of national and international issues.
The institute will be housed in UNLV’s School of Public Policy and Leadership within the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.
Work will commence at the think tank later this year pending formal approval by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents.

The Associated Press reports that MGM has committed more than $950,000 for three years to the think tank that will bear its name.

The new think tank will be one of a number of policy organizations that is housed within a college or university.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Speakers Announced for CAP's Ideas Conference

The much-anticipated Ideas Conference - what Politico is calling the Center for American Progress's (CAP) response to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) - will take place next week.  Here are some details:

The Ideas Conference, the Center for American Progress’s response to CPAC, will be held at the Four Seasons in Georgetown on May 16.  Among the speakers: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

More details can be found here.  Think Tank Watch's previous post on the Ideas Conference, which is also being called "CPAC for Liberals," can be found here.

PBS notes that the Democrats' next nominee for president could very well be speaking at the upcoming think tank conference.

Update: A video of the conference as well as a list of all the speakers can be found here.

Think Tank Quickies (#270)

  • Pete Peterson: Journalists have to question expertise of think tanks.
  • Reporter Alex Emmons removed from AIPAC talk featuring Stephen Seche, VP at a Saudi-funded think tank.
  • Which think tanks run South Africa?
  • Jen Buckner of CyberCom: DoD listening to ideas coming out of think tanks.
  • Pic of Donald Trump's think tank.
  • Pic: How think tank presidents should dress.
  • The funders of CEPA.
  • Former US envoy to Israel, Dan Shapiro, joins Tel Aviv-based think tank.
  • Right-wing think tanks accuse TED talks of blatant bias toward liberalism.
  • The Volkswagen Group's think tanks.

Hoover Fellow Could Replace Janet Yellen at the Fed

Could a think tanker become the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve?  Here is more from Pedro Nicolaci da Costa (formerly of the Peterson Institute for International Economics) in Business Insider:

He's young, he's Republican, and he was seen a key steward of the Federal Reserve's financial crisis, Chairman Ben Bernanke's right-hand man.
It's only natural that the name of Kevin Warsh, a former Fed governor who is now a fellow at the Hoover Institution, would come up as a potential replacement to Janet Yellen, whose term as Fed chair expires at the end of next January.
Warsh, a former Morgan Stanley banker, now "advises several private and public companies, including service on the board of directors of UPS," his profile says.

Mr. Warsh serves as the Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics at Hoover and lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

When Ben Bernanke stepped down, there were rumors that the next Fed Chair could come from think tank land.  However, a non-think tanker, Janet Yellen, was ultimately selected.

Think Tank Watch should note that former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is now housed within the Brookings Institution.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

US's Top Spy Chief Joins CNAS

Top defense think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has just announced that James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI), will join the policy shop as a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Intelligence and National Security.  He will also join CNAS's Board of Advisors.

The Washington Examiner originally reported that Clapper has joined the Center for a New American Century, but rest assured, he is joining the Center for a New American Security (Think Tank Watch has pointed this out to them and they have since fixed it).

There are dozens of former spies at think tanks (Think Tank Watch has documented a number of them here), although very few spy chiefs.  But it is not a huge surprise since Clapper was sometimes seen around the think tank party circuit.

Recently, Clapper also joined Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs as a Non-Resident Senior Fellow.

We are now wondering if James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), will join think tank land after being fired.

CFR's Int'l Report Card: The World is in Steep Decline

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has just released its third annual Report Card on International Cooperation, and things are not looking too good for planet Earth.  Here is more:

The third annual Report Card on International Cooperation sharply downgraded its assessment of efforts to mitigate the world’s most vexing problems in 2016 to a C-, falling from a B grade in 2015.
The Council of Councils, a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) initiative comprising twenty-six major international policy institutes, surveyed the heads of member think tanks to evaluate the world’s performance on ten of the most important transnational challenges of 2016.
"Limited progress in combating climate change and advancing development in 2016 was overwhelmed by dismal failures of international efforts to promote global trade, resolve internal conflicts, and advance cyber governance," said CFR President Richard N. Haass. "Nationalist electoral campaigns throughout the world sailed to victory on promises to retreat from international commitments. This suggests 2017 will face even more fundamental challenges to international cooperation."

The full report card can be found here, and the methodology (including participating think tanks) can be found here.

Think Tank Quickies (#269)

  • Heritage Foundation pushing US into war with North Korea?
  • Hungary does US think tank scene.
  • Small tornado almost hits World Resources Institute.
  • AEI has an information session at Tufts.
  • I'm establishing my own think tank, kind of.
  • Think tank reps attend Schuman Challenge.
  • PwC looking for someone to work with think tanks.
  • Chart: Mercer Family Foundation donations to think tanks.
  • Hudson Institute co-convenes 7th Transatlantic Think Tank Conference.
  • Cato turns 40.
  • Nikki Haley gives speech at CFR.
  • AEI scholar Charles Murray named "White Nationalist."

Monday, May 8, 2017

CSIS Promoting Weapons Made by Its Defense Donors?

Here is a new piece from Adam Johnson of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR):

As tensions between the United States and North Korea continue to rise, one think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), has become a ubiquitous voice on the topic of missile defense, providing Official-Sounding Quotes to dozens of reporters in Western media outlets. All of these quotes speak to the urgent threat of North Korea and how important the United States’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system is to South Korea.
In the past year, FAIR has noted 30 media mentions of CSIS pushing the THAAD missile system or its underlying value proposition in US media, most of them in the past two months. Business Insider was the most eager venue for the think tank’s analysts, routinely copyingandpasting CSIS talking points in stories warning of the North Korean menace.
Omitted from all these CSIS media appearances, however, is that one of CSIS’s top donors, Lockheed Martin, is THAAD’s primary contractor—Lockheed Martin’s take from the THAAD system is worth about $3.9 billion alone. Lockheed Martin directly funds the Missile Defense Project Program at CSIS, the program whose talking heads are cited most frequently by US media.
While it’s unclear how much exactly Lockheed Martin donates to CSIS (specific totals are not listed on their website, and a CSIS spokesperson wouldn’t tell FAIR when asked), they are one of the top ten donors, listed in the “$500,000 and up” category. It’s unclear how high “and up” goes, but the think tank’s operating revenue for 2016 was $44 million.

FAIR goes on to note that five of CSIS's ten major corporate donors (giving $200,000+) are weapons manufacturers: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, Leonardo-Finmeccanica, and Northrup Grumman.  FAIR also notes that South Korea gives money to CSIS through the governmental Korea Foundation.

Think Tank Watch should point out that Lockheed has given donations to a number of different think tanks, including Atlantic Council, Heritage Foundation, Brookings Institution, and Center for American Progress (CAP).

For decades a number of think tanks have had strong ties to the defense industry.  Here is a recent Salon piece about think tanks and war, and here is a part of the recent New York Times expose on how think tanks amplify corporate America's influence.

Docs Reveal Bradley Foundation's Quiet Funding of Think Tanks

Some interesting tidbits about the Bradley Foundation's funding of think tanks from PRWatch:

Documents examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) expose a national effort funded by the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation to assess and expand right-wing "infrastructure" to influence policies and politicians in statehouses nationwide.
The documents were made public in October 2016 on two Twitter accounts that cyber security analysts have linked to one of the Russian hackers alleged to have breached the Democratic National Committee. The Bradley Foundation confirmed in a statement that the hack had taken place and was reported to the FBI. More information about how the Bradley files became public is available here.
The documents open a window to the behind-the-scenes workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. With $835 million in assets as of June 2016, the Bradley Foundation is as large as the three Koch family foundations combined, yet receives much less attention as a significant funder of the right.
Bradley funds the MacIver Institute ($1,079,640) and Wisconsin Policy Research Institute ($13,055,000 since 1987). The State Policy Network "think tanks" work closely with ALEC legislators on model bills, including recently on ALEC's private sector union-busting legislation, ALEC's rollback of prevailing wages and more.

The Bradley Foundation was recently honored as "a force for what makes America so good" by the Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has benefited from the Foundation's support for more than 35 years.

A recent annual report shows that the Bradley Foundation supports a variety of conservative and libertarian think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute, Hoover Institution, Cato Institute, and Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to the Heritage Foundation Meltdown

Since news broke on Friday that Jim DeMint will likely be ousted as head of the Heritage Foundation, the situation at the think tank has been like a slow-moving train wreck as speculation about the next moves run rampant.

In order to help understand all that has happened and to update the latest news, Think Tank Watch has created this guide that we will be updating several times each day.

Friday (April 28)
  • On Friday Politico breaks the news that Jim DeMint will be ousted from the Heritage Foundation following a dispute with board members about the direction of the think tank.  Politico reports that some board members think DeMint has brought in too many Senate allies and made the think tank "too bombastic and political," while also noting a dispute between the think tank and its sister lobbying arm, Heritage Action.  It also says that a handful of staffers close to DeMint are expected to leave the think tank, and former Heritage president Ed Feulner will become interim president.
  • The New York Times says that the abrupt ouster is being described as a "coup," and mentions that billionaire board member Rebekah Mercer, a Steve Bannon ally, helped lead it.
  • The Washington Examiner reports that President Donald Trump praised Jim DeMint as news started to circulate about his likely departure from the think tank.  The newspaper also noted that the think tank's board of trustees will meet May 2 to decide the final outcome for DeMint.
  • WND says that Heritage "is going establishment again" and says the think tank's board leans heavily toward "big money establishment conservatism."

Saturday (April 29)
  • On Saturday Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner reports a "major shakeup" at Heritage, saying that DeMint loyalists have starting clearing their desks and the entire staff "remains officially in the dark."  He also reports that Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham had offered "an olive branch" to DeMint by offering to switch jobs with him.  He also reported that board member Todd Herrick has resigned his post.
  • John Hart wrote a piece for Forbes entitled "The Political Assassination of The Heritage Foundation's Jim DeMint." 

Sunday (April 30)
  • On Sunday Fox New's Chris Wallace asks Michael Needham if Steve Bannon will take over Heritage after DeMint leaves, and Needham remained mum.  That leads to speculation that Rebekah Mercer is trying to install Bannon as the new president of the think tank.  Heritage staffers reportedly react to the rumor with a "mix of hilarity and hysteria."
  • Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner reports that conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill rally behind Jim DeMint in a new letter praising him.  He also reported that one of the branches of Heritage that DeMint founded during his tenure, the Policy Services Department, began scaling back outreach to congressional offices.

Monday (May 1)
  • Think tank watcher Daniel Drezner suggests that Michael Needham will become the next president of the Heritage Foundation.
  • Philip Wegmann reports that sources say Michael Needham didn't want to become president of the Heritage Foundation.  Sources describe the scene at Heritage Action as one of "misery and uncertainty."
  • Philip Wegmann reports that group vice president and DeMint loyalist James Wallner was placed on administrative leave without explanation on Monday evening.
  • Stephen Moore says he is not sure if Bannon will take over as president of the Heritage Foundation.

Tuesday (May 2)
  • Rosie Gray and McKay Coppins write a piece on the fight for control of the Heritage Foundation. 
  • Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist reports that millions of dollars in previous pledges and commitments to the Heritage Foundation have been rescinded.  She notes that Feulner's and Needham's strongest allies on the board are Tom Saunders (Chairman) and Nersi Nezari (also on Heritage Action board).
  • The Heritage Foundation board of trustees starts meeting at 9:30am on the 8th floor of the think tank to decide Jim DeMint's fate (without DeMint in the room).  Vote on DeMint was supposed to have occured at 10:30 but delayed until afternoon.  Around 12:30 DeMint is invited in the room (his wife has been spotted in the building) and he left the room around an hour later.
  • Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng report that a group of staffers loyal to DeMint plan to leave Heritage in anticipation of DeMint getting axed. Five staffers have reportedly pledged to leave and the eventual number could be as high as between 15 and 30.  Staffer Wesley Denton, a longtime DeMint aide, has been told to resign under threat of being fired.
  • Politico publishes piece on the "real" reason DeMint is being forced out, saying that Feulner and Needham became convinced the DeMint was incapable of renewing the think tank's place as "an intellectual wellspring" of the conservative movement.  Politico says that board members are expected to announce DeMint's removal "around mid-afternoon."
  • Ed Feulner called for a 4:30pm all-staff meeting to discuss the DeMint situation. 
  • At around 4:45pm, the Heritage Foundation board released a statement saying that by unanimous vote, it had asked for and received the resignation of Jim DeMint.  The board has elected Ed Feulner as president and CEO while it conducts a search for his successor. The reason for forcing Demint out: "significant and worsening management issues that led to a breakdown of internal communications and cooperation."
  • At 5:40pm the Daily Beast reports that several of DeMint's loyalists were purged from the think tank, including EVP Bret Bernhardt, VP of Communications Wesley Denton, VP of Policy Promotion Ed Corrigan, and Cameron Seward, DeMint's Chief of Staff.
  • In the evening, through a spokesman (and numerous bullet points), DeMint argues that be benefited the think tank greatly, reports Politico. 
  • Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial on how Heritage "went wrong." (And letter to the editor.)

Wednesday (May 3)
  • Ed Feulner finally breaks his public silence on Steve Bannon and says that he will not be the next president of the Heritage Foundation, and that the think tank needs a CEO who can "come in here and run a $90 million business with 350 employees."  The Examiner noted that Feulner will remain as president of the think tank for six months while a permanent replacement is chosen.
  • Washington Examiner: Heritage shows the feds how to write a press release.
  • Slate's Reihan Salam explains what is going on at the Heritage Foundation. 
  • The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin opines about what is going on at the Heritage Foundation. 
  • The Federalist's Ben Domenech writes a piece on what comes next for Heritage after the coup. 
  • Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ) considers what comes next for Heritage.
  • Tevi Troy writes a piece on how to make Heritage great again.

Thursday (May 4)
  • Vox's Andrew Prokop explains the "bitter, nasty, chair-throwing" Heritage Foundation shake-up.
  • Feulner says that the Heritage Foundation will still be Donald Trump's favorite think tank.

  •  The Weekly Standard on the Heritage Foundation's sudden shake-up.
  • Examiner: After DeMint, Heritage will develop a "much closer and tighter relationship" with lobbying arm.
  • Roll Call: Heritage touts recent fundraising.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Think Tank Quickies (#268)

  • Think tank land is alive and well.
  • The serious role of gaming at RAND Corp.
  • Impact of institutions on foreign policy think tanks in France and Denmark.
  • A little-known think tank churns out doctored studies that portray an America under siege by immigrants, says New Republic.
  • This think tank studied Russian humor and Russia thought it was hilarious.
  • 6 ways think tanks can overcome angst about impact, via Sarah Lucas .
  • Daniel Kahneman talks at Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
  • H.R. McMaster's time at IISS creates clear conflict of interest?
  • Top Democrats urged libertarian think tank to stop mailing climate change skeptical materials to teachers.
  • Map of AEI scholars now at Trump White House.
  • Chinese think tank: Dalai Lama's successor must have China's endorsement.