Biden Administration Facilitates Foreign Governments to Increase Influence on Think Tanks

President Joe Biden’s State Department repealed a Trump-era policy that fostered more transparency from foreign policy think tanks, The New Republic first reported.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo implemented a new Department policy in 2020, which discouraged officials at the State Department from cooperating with think tanks that accepted foreign government funding without disclosing it publicly. Now, the Biden administration is no longer upholding that policy, the State Department confirmed to The New Republic.

The Pompeo rule did not require think tanks to disclose their foreign donors — however, he noted that it was a “request,” and that Department officials would take into account which organizations were complying with that request when deciding who to work with.

“The unique role of think tanks in the conduct of foreign affairs makes transparency regarding foreign funding more important than ever,” Pompeo said at the time. Staffers will “be mindful of whether disclosure has been made.”

Certain autocracies have become highly influential over major American think tanks in the past decade. The United Arab Emirates, in particular, is the biggest foreign donor to a number of think tanks ranging from the Atlantic Council to the Middle East Institute.

The Center for American Progress, a leading Democratic think tank, began advising Emirati officials on how to lobby the United States after receiving major donations from the country, according to The New Republic. 

The Biden administration did not elaborate on why the policy had been revoked, beyond just confirming that it had been revoked.

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