A shadowy think tank that Paul Manafort boasted about directing featured one of the libertarian movement’s most prominent foreign policy voices—who told The Daily Beast he didn’t know the now-convicted fraudster was involved.
The think tank, which appears to no longer exist, typifies the way savvy lobbyists can covertly introduce and amplify voices backing their clients—a strategy that’s especially valuable when those clients are tough to defend.
But while it’s not unusual for lobbyists to turn to K Street to gin up support for their clients, it is extraordinary for them to manufacture entire institutions—which is just what Manafort’s group reportedly did.
The Guardian reported in April that Manafort’s then-business partner, Alan Friedman, started a “fake think tank” called the Center for the Study of Former Soviet Socialist Republics (CXSSR) to push narratives that supported his then-client, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. People affiliated with the think tank say they don’t share the assessment that it was fake, and one said he received a monthly stipend for his work.
The think tank’s website no longer works. But archived internet pages show Doug Bandow, currently a scholar with the libertarian Cato Institute, was listed as its only “senior scholar” going back to 2012. A few other names come and go from the archived masthead, some of them with virtually nonexistent online footprints.
Here is a previous post on how Manafort may have gotten help from a Wilson Center scholar. Did Manafort work with scholars from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to help Vladimir Putin?