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September 08, 2014

Foreign Governments Seek U.S. Sway Via Think Tank Donations

Prominent policy institutes have received tens of millions of dollars in recent years from foreign governments looking to promote their interests in Washington, according to The New York Times. Lobbying experts say the arrangements raise questions over whether the nonprofit groups, whose purportedly independent research plays a role in shaping U.S. policy debates, are acting as agents of foreign powers without registering as such.

Influential think tanks such as the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Atlantic Council are major recipients of foreign funds. Oil-producing nations, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Norway, are particularly active donors.

In contracts and internal documents, foreign governments often state directly that the giving is aimed at promoting national interests. Some scholars contend the funding has led policy groups to refrain from criticizing donor governments and pursue research that supports donors' agendas. Top think-tank officials say their organizations' work is not influenced by the giving.