7 September 2014, NYT: Foreign Government Contributions to Nine Think Tanks
7 September 2014, NYT: Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks
SEPT. 6, 2014
Selected Documents on Think Tanks and Foreign Money
1. Money and Influence in the Think Tank World
Foreign governments are a major source of money for think tanks in Washington, making donations, in many cases, with a goal of trying to influence United States foreign policy. The think tanks offer the donor governments special access to United States government officials, at times in exchange for the financial support. Here is a look at these ties.
Brookings Foreign Money
Foreign governments have long been among the donors to the Brookings Institution, the nonprofit research organization, but for the first time, it has provided a tally of exact amounts committed to it in recent years by these foreign governments, accounting for about 12 percent of its annual budget. Here is that list, which totals $35 million over four years, although at least four governments are not included. Millions of dollars in additional commitments made in 2014, with one exception, were not provided.
C.S.I.S. Foreign Money
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, in part in response to questions from The New York Times, also for the first time has released a list of its foreign government donors, among other donors. It did not provide any indication of how much money they provided, but an executive said it was about 10 percent of the organization's annual budget.
Atlantic Council Foreign Money
The Atlantic Council also takes a large amount of foreign money -- as much as 20 percent of its budget, because of special, one-time gifts from certain foreign nations in recent years. Here is a list of those donors as of August.
Internal Norway Report on Think Tanks and Influence
Norway hired a consultant two years ago to conduct a study of the government's financial support for think tanks in the United States, making clear that the government's donations are seen as a way to get greater access to the Obama administration and Congress and to influence United States policy. Here is the complete, initially confidential report.
Money Equals Access
Donating money to think tanks gets Norway access to United States government officials--the report says. Brookings has been particularly helpful, it says, with this effort.
C.S.I.S Influenced United States Policy--at Norway's Request
The report credits C.S.I.S. for helping influence, or at least appear to, United States policy related to the Arctic Circle, at the request of Norway.
Brookings: Agenda Setting--Not Agenda Driven
The major think tanks, in many cases, have written policies to make clear that their scholars must maintain their independence. Brookings takes this task, of drafting and distributing such written guidelines, seriously. It shared with The New York Times excerpts from some of its recent guidelines, which make clear that the institutional policy is that scholars are to reach their own rigorous conclusions, and are not to be influenced by donors' expectations.
Norway Government Memo About the Think Tank Study
Norway has an extremely powerful open-records law. Brooke Williams, who is working with The New York Times, requested dozens of documents related to the government's work with United States think tanks. In this translated memo, government officials discuss the May 2012 Norway-government commissioned study on United States think tanks, confirming its main conclusions. Translation errors may be present
Norway Getting Access to American Decision Makers
Here Norway government officials are reiterating a point that their consultant made: donations to think tanks allow them to get access to American government officials and to influence the agenda here.
Norway Government Memo About the Think Tank Study -- Original Version
Here is the original version of the memo on the think tank study, including handwritten notes from government officials and related emails.
C.S.I.S. and Denmark--Another Foreign Donor
These foreign government donations take place on a constant basis, in this case inspiring a news release from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, from July 2014.
2. Center for Global Development and Norway
Norway entered into an agreement with the Center for Global Development, a Washington-based think tank that focuses on "how policies and actions of the rich and powerful affect poor people in the developing world." The center was to work with Climate Advisers, a consulting firm, to persuade policy makers in the United States and other countries to increase funding for forest-protection programs, a top foreign policy priority of Norway. Such programs are known by the acronym REDD, for "reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation."
Norway Donates Millions to Center for Global Development
This April 2013 document details a grant from Norway to the center and to Climate Advisers, for $5.4 million, to raise support in the United States for the forest-protection effort. It sets aside, in the last page of this agreement, nearly $290,000 for the specific purpose of "high level mobilization," which in the project document is described as targeting the White House, Congress and other government officials.
Targeted Foreign Money to Lobby Washington
Here is the money allocated to attempt to influence policy in Washington
Center for Global Development-About Us
Here is background on the center, a Washington-based non profit.
Climate Advisors--the Partner in the Deal
Norway's money also went to support work by Climate Advisors, which calls itself a "politics shop."
This series of emails captures correspondence between executives at the center or Climate Advisers and Knut Nyflot, a senior official at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), as they negotiate the terms of the grant and the outcomes being sought in exchange for the government support. The agency is a directorate of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It makes clear that the government of Norway has explicit expectations as to what it will get for its money, and is requesting specific actions by the groups it is paying.
"Creating Demand for REDD+"
A copy of the final grant application from the center and Climate Advisers, detailing the project's plans, budget and goals. The application states that one important strategy will be to persuade the United States to increase funding for forest-protection programs. A list of "groups/entities targeted" includes officials at the White House, Congress and the State Department. Several lawyers interviewed by The New York Times said these demands should have resulted in registration by Center for Global Development under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Target: The White House
The project document calls for the center and its partner to target the White House and other players in Washington.
Progress Report: Influencing Washington
In April 2014, the center and Climate Advisers filed a progress report with Norwegian officials. "The President's Global Development Council adopted CA-drafted climate-smart food security and forest outcomes and policy recommendations and CGD-drafted language on results-based approaches and development impact bonds (DIBs) in its most recent report, including a recommendation for results-based aid mechanisms for land restoration efforts," it notes.
In email correspondence related to the second installment of Norwegian funding, the center's chief financial officer, Ellen Mackenzie, clarifies that the "outcomes" discussed in the project report were all obtained through the Norway-funded program. Attorneys interviewed by The New York Times said this confirmation makes it clear to them that the center should have registered as a foreign agent.
3. Atlantic Council and Norway
The Atlantic Council, which has experienced explosive growth in recent years, has negotiated a number of important, and lucrative, deals with the government of Norway and Statoil, the Norwegian-government owned oil company. Here is a look at the ties between the two.
Invitation to 2014 Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit (p. 1)
Here the Atlantic Council invites the chief executive officer of Statoil, Helge Lund, to its 2014 Energy and Economic Summit in Turkey, a chance for oil company executives and government officials to meet privately and discuss energy projects worldwide. Statoil is owned by the Norwegian government
Donate Money -- Get Better Access
The invitation is also a direct request for money, and a promise that if the donation takes place, the executives will be offered an opportunity to speak at, moderate or introduce a session at the event and get special access to so-called bilateral meetings rooms, where conversations with government officials take place.
Donate Money -- Get Better Access
This brochure was sent to Norway's Statoil by the Atlantic Council, offering it different levels of access based on how much it might donate to its 2014 conference in Turkey.
Invitation to 2013 Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit
The Atlantic Council sent out a similar invitation in 2013 to the Norway Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.
Extra Incentive to Attend 2013 Atlantic Council Summit: Private Access to United States Secretary of Energy
Here the Atlantic Council, in attempting to persuade a Norwegian government official to attend its event, explicitly offers the Norwegian government special, private access to then-Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. A spokesman for the Norwegian government said that as far as it was aware, no Norwegian official had attended this event, despite the added incentive.
Atlantic Council Invitation to Norway to Join as a Bigger Donor
The Atlantic Council, in the last several years, has been on an aggressive campaign to raise money for its new Scowcroft Center on International Security. In this 2012 invitation to Norway, the Atlantic Council explicitly offers the government of Norway a seat on what it calls the Strategic Advisors Group, which the Atlantic Council claims has helped shape policy development at NATO, and presented its findings to Congress. Another offer of access for money.
Norway Turns Down Scowcroft Center Request
Norway, at least in this case, says "no" to the Atlantic Council, in this request for more money -- and access.
Atlantic Council Thank You Letter to Norway
Here is a letter the Atlantic Council sent in March to the Norwegian defense minister thanking him for hosting an event in Oslo, after Norway made a large donation to the council to fund the project, which lasted more than a year.
Norway Officials Discuss the Atlantic Council Event
Here is a government letter discussing this same event, but it shows how Norway sees the Atlantic Council program, and the input it has provided, as an opportunity to advance "Norwegian interests" and "influence policy development" and bring attention to issues it cares about. Translation errors may be present.
Thank You Letter to Norway from Atlantic Council, original
Here is the original version of that government letter.
Atlantic Council Foreign Donors
When former Senator Charles Hagel was nominated to serve as secretary of defense, he was chairman of the Atlantic Council board. That raised questions about donations the group had taken from foreign governments, and led it to the release of this statement in 2013 and a list of the council's foreign donors.
4. Azerbaijan and Atlantic Council
The government of Azerbaijan hired a Washington-based public relations and lobbying firm in 2012 with the explicit purpose of expanding its relationships with think tanks here to try to reinforce public opinion in the United States and to make it clear that this Central Asian nation is an important security partner. It is a campaign that produced real results.
Hiring a Foreign Agent
Here is an excerpt of that agreement, with DCI Group of Washington, filed with the Department of Justice under its Foreign Agents Registration Act, calling for it to "build relationships with think tanks." DCI Group is a lobbying and public relations group, not a think tank.
Target Think Tanks
The government of Azerbaijan here specifically asks its lobbyist to target think tanks, to get them to help push a message that Azerbaijan wants spread across the United States.
Hiring a Second Foreign Agent in 2014
Azerbaijan, for reasons it did not make public, hired a different firm this year, the Podesta Group, run by a close ally of the Obama administration, Tony Podesta. Here is an excerpt of that agreement.
Donations to Think Tanks, Including Atlantic Council
Azerbaijan, while it was working to build relationships with United States think tanks, also donated money through its state-owned oil company to the Atlantic Council, according to this list, made public in 2013, which includes the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan. An Atlantic Council spokesman said he considered this a small donation that had not had any impact on the council's programs in Washington.
Think Tank Events That Echo the Government's Public Relations Goals
Several Washington-based think tanks have held events in the last several years that are focused on the exact themes that the Azerbaijani lobbyists had been hired to promote. They included this event in July at the Atlantic Council, which emphasized "Azerbaijan's concerted efforts in recent years to demonstrate its value as a NATO partner country." The participants at the event, including a State Department official, praised Azerbaijan repeatedly as an important security ally of the United States.
Coverage in Azerbaijani Media
The event was also covered in Azerbaijani, English-language media, again echoing "the importance of Azerbaijan as a NATO partner."
Statement from Atlantic Council
Here is a statement from Frederick Kempe, the president and chief executive of the Atlantic Council, which addresses the council's event on Azerbaijan and its financial support from the country.
5. Longstanding Partners: Norway and Brookings
The government of Norway has had a longstanding partnership through which Norway funds a broad array of research at the Brookings Institution, on topics as varied as Iran's role in conflicts in Afghanistan and the future of the Arctic Circle.
The Framework Agreement
This agreement, renewed several times since 2008, is one of the primary ways that Norway funds Brookings. It contains some very specific policy requests, such as finding a way to allow nations like China and India to participate in talks related to the Arctic Circle while maintaining the full sovereignty of the eight nations that are members of the Arctic Council, which includes Norway and the United States. Brookings executives say all such agreements include language that assert Brooking's independence, but they forget to include it in this version of the document.
Renewing the Brookings Framework Agreement
In this 2012 memo, translated from Norwegian, Norwegian government officials discuss their relationship with Brookings and how it is helpful to Norway. The memo notes that Brookings research is "independent and disinterested," but it also asserts that it helps Norway in its goal to "influence policies and institutions in the USA," that it "gives access to a network" that is important in "ongoing political discourse in the United States, and that through the donation Norway is invited when "Brookings gathers influential people in smaller groups." This translation may have errors.
Renewing the Brookings Framework Agreement -- Original Norwegian Document
This is the original 2012 memo.
Memo Discussing Meeting With Brookings Senior Fellow Bruce Jones
This memo, written in Norwegian, discusses a meeting between Norwegian Embassy officials in Washington and Bruce Jones, a Brookings senior fellow, in advance of a visit by a senior Norwegian official to Washington. The memo shows how Brookings has become involved in this official visit. Mr. Jones offered to "bring along" or "engage" State Department officials to help with a meeting that is being planned. Three lawyers who specialize in the Foreign Agents Registration Act said they considered this a sign of why the relationship with Norway may require Brookings to register as a foreign agent. This translation may have errors.
Memo Discussing Meeting With Brookings Senior Fellow Bruce Jones -- Original Norwegian Document
This is the original, Norwegian language memo related to the meeting with Bruce Jones.
Brookings' general counsel, Ona Dosunmu, issued this statement to The New York Times after being presented with several documents that three lawyers who specialize in the Foreign Agents Registration Act said had led them to conclude that it appeared that Brookings, based on its work for Norway, should have registered as a foreign agent.
6. The High North, Climate Change and Norway
Norway signed agreements with both the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Brookings asking the think tanks to conduct research focusing on issues related to the Arctic Circle and climate change. Norway has long been a global leader in pushing for action to combat climate change. Its state-owned oil company, Statoil, is also preparing to begin oil exploration work in the area, where large-scale melting in recent years has been attributed to climate change and global warming.
Brookings Arctic Plan -- and an Offer to Help Norway Get Access
Brookings, in October 2011, submitted to the government of Norway a research agenda that described its plans for climate change work. The memo says the "deliverables" would include policy papers and the organization of an event, "in partnership with the Embassy of Norway," that would allow Norway's minister of the environment, Erik Solheim, "to provide comments and to meet with experts and policymakers on internal climate finance and renewable and sustainable energy issues." Three lawyers who specialize in the Foreign Agents Registration Act said this language would appeared to necessitate Brookings filing as a foreign agent.
Norway Budget to Cover Brookings Staff for Climate Change Research
Norway details funding it intends to provide to Brookings to fund the climate change research, related to the "deliverables" that Brookings has discussed.
Norway General Agreement With Brookings
A general agreement between Brookings and Norway, first reached in 2008 and renewed several times, included specific language asking Brookings to work on issues related to the Arctic Circle--including protecting the sovereign powers of Norway and seven other nations that are part of a group called the Arctic Council--a key priority for Norway. Here is an excerpt from this document.
Martin Indyk, a Brookings vice president, says in a statement that Norway, despite its intent, in fact did not end up funding Brookings work on Arctic Circle issues. But it did fund research Brookings has done on climate change.
C.S.I.S. Norway and the Arctic Circle
Norway also asked C.S.I.S. to focus research on the Arctic Circle, and here is one event in May 2009 that featured several Norwegian diplomats and government officials, giving them an opportunity to explain their Arctic priorities to a Washington audience that included government officials from the United States.
C.S.I.S. Norway and the Arctic Circle -- a Second Event
Here is a draft agenda from a second event, where Norway officials again were, according to the proposed agenda, able to raise issues related to the Arctic Circle alongside United States government officials.
This study calls for increased attention by the United States to national security issues in the Arctic -- a topic that Norway is advocating, as it hopes to ensure security in the area during a time of increased possible oil production and movement of ships in a region that was once blocked most of the year by ice. The report mentions Norway 36 times, including thanking the government for supporting the work.
Brookings Arctic Circle Events
Brookings has also sponsored several events, and written several reports, that focus on the Arctic Circle and discuss Norway. Here is one April 2013 event where Brookings invited a senior State Department official on the Arctic to appear alongside the senior Norwegian official on the Arctic and where the Norwegian official was able to lay out the country's Arctic agenda. Brookings has said Norway did not help fund this Arctic program, despite a request by the country to do so.
7. Peace in Kurdistan
Norway made another contribution to the Atlantic Council -- about $115,000 in 2007 -- to fund a program that would prepare advice for United States officials and other global leaders on how to create more peaceful relations between Turkey and the Kurds, who for much of the last decade have controlled the northern part of Iraq.
Statement from Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Foreign Affairs official rejected any suggestion that Norway's interest in promoting peace in the Kurdistan region has anything to do with the work that a Norway-based company does in the region.
Norway's Approved Budget for the Project
The Norway officials keep close tabs on the approved projects. Here is a budget document sent to the Norway government by the Atlantic Council.
Atlantic Council Invites Norway to Participate
As part of its effort to prepare the report, the Atlantic Council invited two Norwegian officials, as well as Norway's ambassador to the United States, to participate in an event in Washington where representatives and scholars from Turkey and Kurdistan discussed the issue. Here is the agenda.
Final Report to Norwegian Government on Project by Atlantic Council on Turks and Kurds
Here is a "final report" issued in March 2010, which describes the results of the support from the Norwegian government for the Turks and Kurds project. It also discusses testimony by an Atlantic Council senior fellow to Congress as part of the effort, and a briefing he did for congressional staffers.
Academic Report Issued by Atlantic Council on the Topic
Here is the report issued as a result of the grant, which thanks the government of Norway for its financial support. The Atlantic Council, in statements to The New York Times, has said that regardless of the source of funding for its projects, the scholars maintain complete control over their work.
8. U.A.E. and C.S.I.S.: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
The United Arab Emirates has a longstanding relationship with the Center for Strategic and International Studies through which it sponsors a series of talks at the center about issues related to the Persian Gulf, papers about the region and trips that C.S.I.S. organizes that involve American security experts, to learn more about the region.
Gulf Roundtable Series, paid for by U.A.E.
The relationship began, according to C.S.I.S., after the 2006 controversy when a company called Dubai Ports World tried to buy control of the management of several ports in the United States, evoking a backlash from some members of Congress who questioned whether the country could be trusted. Government officials approached C.S.I.S. and asked for help. "The U.A.E. did ask us to create this forum so that there would be better consciousness and they would not have another Dubai Ports, so people would know about them, to know what it is they are trying to do," the president of C.S.I.S., John Hamre, said in an interview.
Gulf Study Tours
The financial support from the emirates also paid for trips that C.S.I.S. organizes to teach United States security experts more about the region and the role that the United Arab Emirates plays as a security partner of the United States. "They are to get more people to know more about U.A.E.," Mr. Hamre said.
C.S.I.S. declined to provide The New York Times a copy of its agreement with the United Arab Emirates or any other foreign government. But it did provide this statement regarding the arrangement.
FARA Filing by U.A.E. Foreign Agent in 2009
The United Arab Emirates government paid a Washington-based consulting firm to help arrange these C.S.I.S.-sponsored trips, according to this filing with the Department of Justice. Here are excerpts from that filing, showing, for example, at least $267,000 in expenses paid for by the United Arab Emirates government related to C.S.I.S. and "the Gulf study tour." It also shows conversations with the head of the C.S.I.S. program and contact during one of the trips with Richard G. Olson, who was the United States ambassador to the United Arab Emirates as well as discussions with C.S.I.S. over the Gulf Roundtable series.
FARA Filing by U.A.E. Foreign Agent in 2013
This filing is by a separate but related company that continued to represent the the United Arab Emirates government in Washington, charged with helping create a "public diplomacy program" for the United Arab Emirates. This excerpt from the filing shows that the United Arab Emirates government, through its lobbyist, has continued to consult with C.S.I.S. to discuss the "UAE study tour" and "discuss Gulf Roundtable programming."
Gulf Analysis Paper Funded by U.A.E., Published by C.S.I.S.
C.S.I.S. also has used money from the United Arab Emirates to fund a series of scholarly papers that address issues important to the emirates and the United States, such as the apparent use of cyberattacks by Iran to target certain Persian Gulf states.
Gulf Roundtable Event, Featuring Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman in March 2013
At this event, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praises the United Arab Emirates as an important security partner. After he speaks, the emirates' ambassador to the United States is offered the microphone to ask the first question, from the audience, pressing General Dempsey to reiterate the commitment of the United States to helping protect its friends, like the United Arab Emirates, in the Middle East.
U.A.E.: "Most Credible and Capable Allies"
The officials from the United Arab Emirates, who sponsored the C.S.I.S. event, obviously were pleased with the outcome. The United Arab Emirates Embassy Facebook page highlighted a remark by General Dempsey praising the emirates as an important American ally.
9. CSIS in Japan: Decades of Collaboration
Japan is a longtime donor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which has a program devoted to defining a strategic agenda for United States-Japan relations. The research group has organized events in cooperation with Japan government interests, bringing together members of Congress, as well as trade officials from the United States and Japan, to discuss issues important to both countries.
FARA Filing by Jetro
One of many records showing Japan's relationship with C.S.I.S. and other think tanks. C.S.I.S does not disclose how much money it has received from foreign governments, but public records provide a glimpse into money from Japan, and its Japan External Trade Organization, among other Japanese-government donors.
C.S.I.S. International Councilors-Japan is Invited In
Jetro gets invited to attend meetings at C.S.I.S. through which it can interact with multiple policy makers and prominent public figures in Washington--provided important access for the group.
Payments to C.S.I.S. From Japanese Government Interests
An examination of Foreign Agents Registration Act filings shows Japanese government interests have been paying C.S.I.S. for "research and consulting" for more than a decade and participating in meetings at the think tank. In the past four years, Jetro has given C.S.I.S. at least $1.1 million while co-organizing a seminar on Asia Pacific Economic Integration.
Japan Government Officials and Visiting Scholars
The Japan program at C.S.I.S. lists visiting fellows from various areas of the foreign government, including the Ministry of Defense and the Public Security Intelligence Agency. C.S.I.S. says the program is "charting a new direction to define a strategic agenda for the U.S.-Japan relationship."
Japan's Lobbyists Seek Help Establishing TPP Caucus
Months before its official launch in October, Akin Gump lobbyists representing the Japanese Embassy worked with members of Congress and staff members to create the Friends of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a caucus devoted to the free-trade agreement. In December, they discussed an event at C.S.I.S.
Friends of the TPP at C.S.I.S.
C.S.I.S. hosted a discussion with members of Congress who are co-chairmen of the Trans-Pacific Partnership caucus. The event, moderated by a C.S.I.S. scholar, helped the caucus and the Japanese government publicly highlight their support for the negotiations.
C.S.I.S. has also served as a venue for talks on economic issues of importance to Japan. Here is one such seminar, which featured Japanese and American experts and government officials--and a chance for Japan to make clear its priorities.
Jetro Gives Keynote Speech at C.S.I.S.
At the eighth seminar in cooperation with C.S.I.S., the chief executive officer of Japan's external trade group spoke about how the government's participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations would bolster business opportunities. Japan had recently decided to join the talks, he said, "making the timing of this seminar most auspicious."
Japan Chair--at C.S.I.S. funded in part by Japan
CSIS's Japan Chair Michael Green has received funding from the Japanese government since 2006. The program he runs published papers that help identify issues of importance to Japan and the United States.
Statements by C.S.I.S.
Here is a response to a question from The New York Times from a spokesman for C.S.I.S.