Dozens of scholars at research and policy institutes do double duty as lobbyists or consultants for corporations involved in legal or regulatory disputes with the government, The New York Times writes in the second article in a series detailing ties between nonprofit think tanks and big business.
The dual roles are often undisclosed by scholars who work with companies to promote agendas in areas such as military spending, internet regulation, and energy production while producing papers and testifying to Congress about those issues under the think-tank imprimatur, according to the Times, which teamed with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting to examine 75 policy institutes across the ideological spectrum.
Prominent think tanks’ research carries weight in policy debates because it is viewed as independent and disinterested. Some groups say researchers’ corporate associations reflect their engagement with a variety of experts in policy fields, but others are revising their conflict-of-interest policies to address concerns over corporate influence, the Times writes.
Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy opinion piece about safeguarding nonprofit independence from donors.