Thursday, December 31, 2020

John Walters Named as New President & CEO of Hudson Institute

Here is more from the Hudson Institute:

Hudson Institute announced John P. Walters as its new president and CEO beginning January 1, 2021. Kenneth R. Weinstein, who first joined Hudson in 1991, has led Hudson as CEO since 2005 and as president and CEO since 2011. He will become the Walter P. Stern Distinguished Fellow.

Under Weinstein’s leadership, Hudson’s annual budget tripled, growing from $7.5 million in 2005 to $20 million in 2019. Hudson’s endowment grew by almost 500% from $11 million in 2005 to over $60 million in 2019. 

John P. Walters has served as chief operating officer since joining Hudson in 2009. In that role he has overseen Hudson’s research staff and operations, while also directing Hudson Institute Political Studies and Hudson’s Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research.

Prior to joining Hudson, Walters served as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy during President George W. Bush’s two terms in office, overseeing both domestic and international drug policy. He was one of only two cabinet officers to serve through the entirety of President Bush’s tenure. From 1996 until 2001, Walters served as president of the Philanthropy Roundtable, a national association of charitable foundations and individual donors. He also served as chief of staff to Education Secretary William J. Bennett during the Reagan administration.

 

2021 will bring lots of changes to think tank leadership in Washington, DC.  Effective Jan. 1, 2021, Sharon Parrott will replace Robert Greenstein as President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

If Center for American Progress (CAP) President and CEO Neera Tanden and Center for Equitable Growth President and CEO Heather Boushey get confirmed for positions in the Biden Administration, those two think tanks will also need to find new leaders.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Think Tank Tweet of 2020

The think tank tweet of 2020 goes to Peter Singer, a Strategist & Senior Fellow at New America, who succinctly captured the feeling of all think tankers big and small amid a global pandemic that has temporarily closed the doors of numerous policy shops.


 

The humble think tank cookie, while small in size, provides the fuel needed to sustain thousands of policy wonks along with the government officials, consultants, corporate chieftains, students, academics, foreign spies, lobbyists, embassy staffers, and others who cycle in out of the hundreds of US think tanks each day.

The pandemic may have halted this sacred practice for now, but Think Tank Watch predicts that the think tank event cookie shall return in 2021.

Update: Wyatt Scott of the think tank New America says he ate significantly less cookies from not attending think tank events in 2020.  RAND's Jonathan Wong notes that the cookies at RAND's Santa Monica office are baked in-house.  Erik Brattberg of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said he always tried to make sure his think tank had nice cookies from Le Pain Quotidien.  Apple's Bobby O'Brien said he considered think tank event cookies his salary when he was an intern at the Brookings Institution in 2008.  Meanwhile, New America's Kevin Carey says the cookies at American Enterprise Institute (AEI) are the best, even though he "hates" admit it.

 

(Disclaimer: Think Tank Watch does not take donations, but since its inception, it has accepted thousands of think tank cookies from conservative, liberal, and centrist think tanks alike.)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

New Report: Think Tanks as Platforms for Authoritarian Influence

Nadege Rolland, a Senior Fellow for Political and Security Affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute, has published a new report entitled "Commanding Ideas: Think Tanks as Platforms for Authoritarian Influence."

Here is a summary:

The report describes the ways in which authoritarian countries seek to use think tanks as instruments of sharp power, focusing specifically on why and how authoritarian powers target foreign private organizations dedicated to policy-related research. Authoritarian think tanks operate much like their democratic counterparts—organizing public conferences and events, publishing research in academic journals and on their websites, and sharing analyses with media outlets. But the antiliberal and antidemocratic political systems to which these entities belong repress any form of dissent and claim control over the discursive and ideational space. The overall effect lends regime-backed narratives an artificial legitimacy. Democratic think tanks and other civil society stakeholders have a critical role to play in strengthening democratic resilience and countering authoritarian attempts to undermine intellectual freedom.

 

The report was published as part of the International Forum for Democratic Studies' "Sharp Power and Democratic Resilience" series.  That Forum is housed within the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).  The report notes that the Smith Richardson Foundation provides financial support for the series.

Prior to joining NBR, Rolland was an analyst and senior adviser on Asian and Chinese strategic issues to the French Ministry of Defense.  She is the author of the book China's Eurasian Century? Political and Strategic Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#394)

  • Brookings launches Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic relations.
  • Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV) has raised concerns about foreign influence operations that target think tanks.
  • North Carolina right-leaning think tanks (John Locke Foundation and Civitas Institute) are merging.
  • Hudson's Michael Pillsbury will be chair of DoD's Defense Policy Board.
  • Maya Harris, VP-elect Kamala Harris's younger sister, was a senior fellow at CAP.
  • Brookings President John Allen and Tsinghua University Center for International Security and Strategy Chair Fu Ying reflect on the output of 15-month closed-door Track 2 dialogue on AI and national security.
  • Leading candidate to replace Elez Biberaj at VOA is Robert Reilly, director of the Westminster Institute, a think tank in McLean, VA that focuses on "threats from extremism and radical ideologies."
  • Iran buys influence at Western think tanks?
  • "Grateful to have reached the point in the year when think tanks stop spamming me with requests for money they don't need and instead spam with with generic holiday greetings."
  • "You can have a PhD and still be an idiot! Education and intelligence are two different things."

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

"Think Tanker" In China Offered Axios Reporter Money for Sources

Here is a clip from Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, a China reporter for Axios:

A person on LinkedIn claiming to work for a think tank run by a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party department recently offered financial compensation for the names of my sources and for reports about the incoming Biden's administration's views on China.

Why it matters: It was a surprisingly clumsy attempt to gain insider information about the U.S. government's China policy, suggesting that amid a chill in U.S.-China relations and a global pandemic, it's gotten harder for people in Beijing to know what's happening in Washington.

Details: A couple of weeks ago, someone named Aaron Shen (沈岳 in Chinese) sent me a request to connect on LinkedIn. I accepted after I saw he claimed to be the assistant director of international liaison at the China Center for Contemporary World Studies — the in-house think tank of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee (IDCPC).

 

Here is more about the China Center for Contemporary World Studies (CCCWS), which was founded in 2010.  CCCWS serves as the secretariat of the Silk Road Think Tank Association (SRTA), a grouping that provides support for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  SRTA held a major conference on Dec. 16.

Establishing fake think tanks and fake think tankers has become very popular in recent years.  Here is an example of a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) flagging a fake think tanker.  Here is previous Think Tank Watch piece on the new trend of deepfake think tank scholars.

Here is a recent piece on a pro-India disinformation campaign that resurrected "dead" think tanks in order to target the European Union and United Nations.

Here is Wired's piece on China's 5 steps for recruiting spies.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Big Tech Using Think Tanks in EU Lobbing Effort

Here is more from the New York Times:

In Europe, [Silicon Valley technology] companies are spending more than ever, hiring former government officials, well-connected law firms and consulting firms. They funded dozens of think tanks and trade associations, endowed academic positions at top universities across the continent and helped publish industry-friendly research by other firms.

European officials criticized the biggest tech companies for laundering their influence through groups that appear impartial. In October, the European Center for International Political Economy published a report that said new tech regulations would cost the European economy two million jobs and €85 billion in lost gross domestic product. The European Center for International Political Economy is one of at least 36 trade groups, associations and think tanks that Google funds, according to Corporate Europe Observatory.

 

For years, the US's largest and most powerful technology firms, including Amazon, Alphabet (Google), and Facebook, have engaged with and donated to dozens of US-based think tanks.

Friday, December 18, 2020

HUD Secretary Ben Carson to Start a Think Tank

Here is more from Axios:

Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has told confidants he wants to start a think tank after President Trump leaves office next month.  Carson, a neurosurgeon by trade who competed with Trump for the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nomination, wants to start an organization that will promote Trump's policies and foster bipartisan dialogue, a source in his inner circle told Axios.

It's unclear how any such group would be funded or mesh with any entity Trump launches in exile. The closest the source came to defining policy focuses was to say it would include "increasing self-sufficiency" and "promoting religious freedom."

 

While Cabinet members have often gone into the think tank world, it is very rare for them to start their own think tank.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Suspected Russian Hacking Spree Included Think Tank

Here is more from Bloomberg:

The suspected Russian hackers behind a global campaign of cyber-attacks that have breached U.S. government agencies also hit an American think tank, according to a cybersecurity firm that has been fighting them off.

For the better part of a year, investigators at Volexity have been battling hackers that they have dubbed “Dark Halo,” according to President Steven Adair. He said the hackers have made three attempts to access emails at one of its customers, a U.S. based think tank, which he declined to name.

Volexity worked on the breaches at the think tank in late 2019 and 2020, according to a blog post published Monday.

In the first breach, the attackers used “multiple tools, backdoors and malware implants” that allowed them to remain undetected for years, Volexity wrote. After being removed from the network, the hackers returned a second time and exploited a vulnerability in the organization’s Microsoft Exchange Control Panel, according to Volexity.

In the third incident, in July, the hackers breached the think tank through its SolarWinds’ software, according to the cybersecurity company.

 

Earlier this month, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a new advisory saying there are "advanced persistent threat actors" (APT) targeting US think tanks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#393)

  • New RAND Corp. study quantifies cost of rising inequality.
  • The Secure World Foundation (SWF), a think tank promoting "cooperative solutions for space sustainability and the peaceful uses of outer space."
  • "David Horowitz, an ex-leftist who was running a think tank devoted to combating the left's alleged war on American culture and white people."
  • WaPo Date Lab participant's dream date: "A Lebanese Cross-Fitter who works at a think tank."
  • CNAS, Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), and Asia-Pacific Initiative of Japan propose democratic countries form a "technology alliance" not subject to a formal treaty.
  • Former Green Beret who spied for Russia was a graduate of and teacher at the DC-based Institute of World Politics (IWP), a small but influential school in conservative policy circles.
  • CFR report proposes rich feast of reforms for America's foreign service.
  • Think tanks should not publish unsigned essays.
  • Think tanks in DC continue to sit empty amid pandemic.
  • Noah Barkin: "I am herewith proposing an OPEC-style summit of like-minded think tanks to forge agreement on a drastic reduction in the supply of webinars."

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Think Tank Report Sheds Light on How Biden Will Reshape Foreign Policy

Here is more from Foreign Policy:

Beginning in 2017, [Jake] Sullivan and a dozen others, mostly former officials in the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, but also some veterans of Republican administrations, did something unusual for the Washington elite: They listened to what Americans outside the Washington bubble had to say. In a project organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and led by Salman Ahmed, a former Obama administration National Security Council official, the group conducted hundreds of interviews with small business owners, farmers, educators, state and local government officials, and others in Ohio, Nebraska, and Colorado, asking them what they wanted from U.S. foreign policy. The final result, published in September, was a report entitled Making U.S. Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class.

The report deserves far more attention than it received in the run-up to the November elections. It embraces Trump’s most important insight—that the purpose of U.S. foreign policy is to make life better for Americans—even as it rejects Trump’s divisive nationalism on international trade and U.S. alliances. Americans want their country engaged in the world, the report argues, but not at any cost.

 

It is one of among dozens of reports that analysts, foreign governments, and other will be analyzing to get a sense of where US foreign policy may be headed in the years to come.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Liberty University's Think Tank Supported Trump Campaign

Here is more from Politico:

After shocking many in the evangelical movement by endorsing Donald Trump over other Republicans for the 2016 presidential nomination, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. pumped millions of the nonprofit religious institution’s funds into Republican causes and efforts to promote the Trump administration, blurring the lines between education and politics.

The culmination of his efforts was the creation of a university-funded campus “think tank” — which has produced no peer-reviewed academic work and bears little relation to study centers at other universities — that ran pro-Trump ads, hired Trump allies including former adviser Sebastian Gorka and current Trump attorney Jenna Ellis to serve as fellows and, in recent weeks, has aggressively promoted Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

The think tank — called the Falkirk Center, a portmanteau of Falwell’s name and that of GOP activist Charlie Kirk, who co-founded it — purchased campaign-season ads on Facebook, at least $50,000's worth of which were designated by the network as political ads, that promoted Trump and other Republican candidates by name.

Liberty’s actions, detailed for the first time by POLITICO, suggest the university is pushing the boundaries of its status as a nonprofit organization under section 501c(3) of the federal tax code, which forbids spending money on political campaigns.

 

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece on the opening of the Falkirk Center.

Friday, December 11, 2020

EU: Disinformation Campaign by India Utilized Think Tanks

The EU DisinfoLab has a new report entitled "Indian Chronicles" in which it details findings it has uncovered of a massive operation targeting international institutions and serving Indian interests.  Among other things, the 15-year operation resurrected "dead" think tanks in order to target the European Union and United Nations.

Here is more from the full report:

In 2019, the EU DisinfoLab uncovered a vast network of 265 coordinated fake local media outlets in 65 countries serving Indian interests, as well as multiple dubious think tanks and NGOs.  This network was active in Brussels and Geneva in producing and amplifying content designed to, primarily, undermine Pakistan.

We can classify domain names connected to think tanks created by the Srivastava group to push specific agendas towards international institutions such as the United Nations Human Rights Council or the European parliament (iins.academy, iins.org, iins.uno, iinsmail.com, .net, .org for IINS -ICE-online.organd ice.uno for Indian Council of Education). Some of these think tanks such as the International Club for Peace Research (icpr-eu.com), or the previously defunct Commission for the Study for the Organization of Peace (CSOPUS.com), have been central in creating and maintaining a reputation smoke screen around the operation and ordering reports to specific individuals.

We could also find that other think tanks (iffras.org IFFRAS, sadf.eu South Asia Democratic Forum, westt.eu WESTT) have been established for instance with email addresses tied to some other of Srivastava Group’s websites, or by individuals with links to the Indian lobbying company. These think tanks have provided regular partisan reports on Indian-related topics as well as organising and/or sponsoring controversial events or visits in India or to places where Indian-related topics were discussed such as the United Nations.

Eventually, we also identified a domain name linked to the mysterious NGO Coordinating committee for Human Rights (ncchr.org), which may have helped to coordinate the presence of other NGOs in Geneva. This specific asset is officially a spin-off of the IINS think tank.

 

Here is a map of the fake think tanks and lobby organizations that have been exposed by the EU.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of governments and various global actors setting up "fake" think tanks and creating "fake" think tank scholars (or mimicking real think tank experts) for various purposes.  However, this is the first time in recent memory that anyone has resurrected defunct think tanks in order to deceive someone.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#392)

  • AEI President Robert Doar calls on Trump to cooperate with Biden transition.
  • CAP chief Neera Tanden to remain at think tank through confirmation but has suspended her involvement in fundraising for CAP.
  • Heritage Action has trio of ads knocking Raphael Warnock in Georgia.
  • NATO should expand its focus to include China, says study commissioned by NATO that was co-chaired by Wess Mitchell, co-founder of the Center for European Policy Analysis.
  • More than 1,000 Chinese researchers have left the US amid a US crackdown on alleged technology theft, according to US security officials, who said that Chinese agents had already been targeting the incoming Biden Administration.
  • Win Without War and Center for International Policy (CIP) convene call with 100 other groups to try to get on the same page and make a more coherent pitch about left-wing personnel choices for Biden.
  • CSIS hosts Japan event entitled "An Equal Ally Alliance" with 9 American speakers and no Japanese speakers, Politico points out.
  • "Weirdest thing about Star Wars movies is probably the total absence of think tanks."
  • Welsh think tank funded by US group that promotes right wing ideology.
  • Thread on the pitfalls of think tank rankings.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

US Security Agencies: "Advanced Persistent Threat Actors" Targeting Think Tanks

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have issued a new advisory saying there are "advanced persistent threat actors" (APT) targeting US think tanks.

They note that the malicious activity is often, but not exclusively, directed at individuals and organizations that focus on international affairs or national security policy.

The advisory provides guidance to help assist think tanks in developing network defense procedures to prevent or rapidly detect these attacks.

The APT actors have used spearphising emails and third-party message services directed at both individual and corporate accounts, as well as exploiting vulnerable web-facing devices and remote connection capabilities.

The advisory also notes that increased telework during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent reliance on remote connectivity "has afforded malicious actors more opportunities to exploit those connections and to blend in with increased traffic."

"Given the importance that think tanks can have in shaping US policy, CISA and the FBI urge individuals and organizations in the international affairs and national security sectors to immediately adopt a heightened state of awareness and implement the critical steps" listed in the advisory.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Trump Alumni Thriving in Think Tank World

While a number of current and former Trump Administration officials are worried about their job prospects going forward, several former high-level Trump officials have been thriving in the think tank world.  Here is more from The American Prospect:

 

After leaving the White House, [H.R. McMaster] quickly rose to the top of the think-tank industry. The Hudson Institute endowed a new role for him with support from the Japanese government. He also joined the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Soon, he was invited to sit on the boards of the Atlantic Council, Foreign Policy Research Institute, International Republican Institute, Smith Richardson Foundation, and West Point.

Academia welcomed him, too. He snagged a two-book deal from HarperCollins and went to write the first book at Stanford. The university’s Hoover Institution named him the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow.  Condoleezza Rice now directs the Hoover Institution, where COVID quacks Scott Atlas and Richard Epstein sit. (In a press release, Stanford recently rebuked Atlas, who serves on the White House coronavirus task force, but McMaster declined to comment on his colleague.)

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis has a board seat at the giant weapons-maker General Dynamics, a day job at the powerful consultancy the Cohen Group, and a fellowship from Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Lesser-known aides have also thrived. National-security assistant Dina H. Powell McCormick secured a senior fellowship at Harvard’s Belfer Center (alongside many Biden officials-in-waiting). She returned to Goldman Sachs and was immediately promoted to a more senior role. Mira Ricardel, Bolton’s deputy, is now consulting for the Chertoff Group, and Nadia Schadlow, McMaster’s chief strategist, got a plum job at the far-right Hudson Institute think tank, where fellow Trump compatriots sit.

 

Just as the Hudson Institute, Hoover Institution, Heritage Foundation, and other conservative think tanks staffed up the Trump Administration, it is now time for the revolving door to bring them back in for plum think tank assignments.

The think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) runs the Revolving Door Project (RDP), which scrutinizes executive branch appointees "to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement."  

RDP has been carefully following the incoming Biden Administration and has been critical of some potential Biden nominees from think tank land.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#391)

  • Sharon Parrott replacing Bob Greenstein as president of CBPP.
  • CSIS's Burke Chair in Strategy examines how think tanks have failed to cover the Afghan peace process.
  • Aspen Institute to get $1 million donation from Bank of America.
  • Emmanuel Macron - a "think tanker-in-chief." 
  • Matthew Yglesias is joining Niskanen Center as a senior fellow.
  • Conservatives groups, including some think tanks, have backed off from hiring soon-to-depart Trump Administration officials after growing concerned about the consequences.
  • First think tank state of the sector report, via On Think Tanks.
  • New trend in French high schools: Think tanks rather than student unions.
  • Trump Administration has opted to extend background vetting of DoD appointees to nonpolitical roles, a move that is said to be hampering top think tank experts from consulting with the Pentagon on policy matters.
  • New Consensus, a left-wing think tank led by AOC's former chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, argues that Biden could team up with the Fed and Treasury to provide trillions of dollars of low-interest loans to build the "industries of tomorrow" and help small businesses suffering because of the pandemic.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan Joins CSIS Board of Trustees

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has joined the Board of Trustees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Since leaving Congress, he launched the American Idea Foundation (AIF), an organization that expands economic opportunity by partnering with local organizations and academics to advance evidence-based public policies.

Ryan is also a Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the Practice of Public Policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). 

It is possible that Ryan could be named to head a major US think tank in the next few years, and AEI and CSIS are possible candidates.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about the American Idea Foundation.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Think Tank Founder Tapped for CEA Comes Under Fire

Anyone following the presidential transition closely knows that Neera Tanden, the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP), is taking incoming from all sides after being tapped by President-elect Joe Biden to be director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

What is not as well known is that another of Biden's recent economic picks is also under fire: Heather Boushey, the President, CEO and Co-Founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.  Here is more from Bloomberg:

Heather Boushey, named by President-elect Joe Biden as a member of his Council of Economic Advisers, was criticized on Tuesday by a former employee who alleged she was pushed out of her job after publishing a blog post that Boushey didn’t like.

Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist, worked at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth that Boushey leads but left the position in October, two months after publishing a viral blog post that claimed racist, sexist and elitist harassment in the economics field.

“I no longer see Heather Boushey as committed to diversity and inclusion,” Sahm wrote in the post published on her blog.

She says she was subject to performance reviews following her initial post, and that Boushey never replied to a request to meet after the essay went viral.

Five staff members left Equitable Growth from 2014 to 2015, citing her management as a factor for their resignations. That’s according to an internal Center for American Progress document in 2015 and disclosed in the WikiLeaks hack of the personal email of John Podesta, a founder of CAP and the Center for Equitable Growth. Equitable Growth was started at CAP in 2013.

 

Should Tanden and Boushey ultimately get the nod to work in the Biden Administration, both CAP and Equitable Growth will need to choose new leaders.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Think Tank Files as a Foreign Agent for Korea

A longtime Washington think tank has just registered as a foreign agent for South Korea, an exceedingly rare move that was spurred on by the US Department of Justice, which administers the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), taking an increasingly broad view of FARA's scope in recent months.

Here is more from Foreign Lobby Report:

The progressive Center for International Policy (CIP) in Washington has registered as a foreign agent of the Korea Foundation, a Korean think tank that is partly funded by South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Henri Feron, a senior fellow on East Asia and International Law at CIP, has been awarded a one-year, $30,000 grant to conduct a study aimed at identifying a “a middle ground for all three conflict dimensions in Korea — the Korean War, the Korean Peninsula in Sino-American rivalry, and nuclear weapons.” The center objected to registering with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) but felt compelled to under the department’s increasingly expansive interpretation of the law in recent years.

 

Interestingly, CIP has recently written several reports critical of foreign funding of think tanks.  Donors to CIP include the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Waxman Strategies, a lobbying firm founded by the son of former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), has registered as a foreign agent for Norwegian-funded projects with CIP.

Meanwhile, a number of larger Washington think tanks that work with and essentially lobby on behalf of foreign governments, such as the Brookings Institution, Atlantic Council, and Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), have so far declined to register as foreign agents.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece entitled "Think Tanks May Soon Have to File as Foreign Agents Under FARA."

The US Congress has toyed with the idea of clarifying FARA rules for think tanks over the years with little success.  As noted in a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, a 2016 Inspector General report suggested refining FARA's broadly worded exemptions which sometimes make it difficult for think tanks that receive funding and direction from foreign governments to determine whether they qualify as foreign agents.

In October, the Trump Administration demanded that US think tanks and academic institutions publicly disclose what funding they receive from foreign governments or otherwise risk losing access to State Department officials.

After that declaration, some law firms suggested that think tanks should seriously consider filing under FARA.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Brookings Scholar Janet Yellen Tapped as Biden's Treasury Secretary

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who is currently a Distinguished Fellow in Residence for Economic Studies at the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, has been nominated for Treasury Secretary in the incoming Biden Administration.

Here is more from The Hill: 

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday named former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen as his nominee for Treasury secretary, formalizing a nomination that has been expected for more than a week.

Biden announced Yellen as his Treasury pick in a release that also tapped a number of others for posts on his economic team, including Neera Tanden as his budget director and Cecilia Rouse as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Yellen, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, would be the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary. Her credentials among liberal Democrats and decades of federal government experience made her an early front-runner for the crucial post, though many progressives had hoped Biden would pick Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

 

Brookings notes that she is now on leave from Brookings.

In related news, think tankers Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey were selected as members of Biden's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).

Bernstein is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), and Boushey is the President, CEO, and Co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.