Thursday, May 14, 2020

Aspen Institute Returns $8 million Loan After Being Shamed

Here is more from the Washington Post: 

The Aspen Institute think tank announced it would return $8 million in federal small-business funds after a Thursday meeting of its board of trustees.
The decision marked an about-face for the nonprofit organization, which had argued Wednesday that the funds were necessary to keep its 430-person staff on payroll despite a $115 million endowment and several billionaires among its trustees.
The decision comes one day after The Washington Post revealed the institute had received the loan. The D.C.-based group joins a series of public companies, the Los Angeles Lakers and other larger employers that applied and received money from the Small Business Administration fund, only to later give it back.
The group’s many conferences and forums, the bread-and-butter of its operations, have been canceled. A 98-room conference center it owns in Aspen is closed and forecasting substantial losses. Overall, the D.C.-based nonprofit organization is projecting a loss of between $14 million and $17 million for 2020.
In defending the initial decision to keep the loan Wednesday, Aspen said it had already received board approval to tap into its endowment for $7.5 million but that about 80 percent of its endowment funds were restricted and could not be used for operating purposes.
Aspen had an endowment of more than $115 million at the end of 2018, according to its most recently available tax filing. Its board includes former Disney Chairman Michael Eisner and Chairman James S. Crown, a member of one of America’s wealthiest families.

Here is the original WaPo piece about the Aspen Institute receiving the $8 million loan.

Think Tank Watch is aware of other large think tanks that have received Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, and it is likely that many will be pressured to return those funds once that news becomes public.

The libertarian Cato Institute is one of the few think tanks that has promised not to take bailout money.