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American Enterprise Institute

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The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is an extremely influential, pro-business, conservative think tank founded in 1943 by Lewis H. Brown. It promotes the advancement of free enterprise capitalism[1], and succeeds in placing its people in influential governmental positions. It is the center base for many neo-conservatives.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

In August 2011, AEI President Arthur C. Brooks spoke at a "Leadership Dinner" sponsored by Reynolds American at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[2]

About ALEC

ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.


Originally set up as a spokesperson for big business and the promotion of free enterprisecite, the AEI came to major national prominence in the 1970s under the leadership of William Baroody, Sr.[3], during which time it grew from a group of twelve resident "thinkers" to a well-funded organization with 145 resident scholars, 80 adjunct scholars, and a large supporting staff. This period of growth was largely funded by the Howard Pew Freedom Trust [1].

Irving Kristol left the Congress for Cultural Freedom in the late 1960s to work at the AEI after the CIA's funding of CCF was widely revealed in the media following initial reports in Ramparts magazine. [4]

Ronald Reagan said of the AEI in 1988:

"The American Enterprise Institute stands at the center of a revolution in ideas of which I, too, have been a part. AEI's remarkably distinguished body of work is testimony to the triumph of the think tank. For today the most important American scholarship comes out of our think tanks – and none has been more influential than the American Enterprise Institute."

In 1986, the Olin and Smith Richardson foundations withdrew their support from AEI because of substantive disagreement with certain of its policies, causing William Baroody, Jr.[5][6][7] to resign in the ensuing financial crisis. Following criticism by conservatives that the AEI was too centrist, it moved its programme further to the right and became more aggressive in pursuing its public policy goals. [2]

Work on issues


More recently, it has emerged as one of the leading architects of the Bush administration's foreign policy. AEI rents office space to the Project for the New American Century, one of the leading voices that pushed the Bush administration's plan for "regime change" through war in Iraq. AEI reps have also aggressively denied that the war has anything to do with oil.

Tobacco issues

In 1980, the American Enterprise Institute for the sum of $25,000 produced a study in support of the tobacco industry titled, Cost-Benefit Analysis of Regulation: Consumer Products. The study was designed to counteract "social cost" arguments against smoking by broadening the social cost issue to include other consumer products such as alcohol and saccharin. The social cost arguments against smoking hold that smoking burdens society with additional costs from on-the-job absenteeism, medical costs, cleaning costs and fires.[3] The report was part of the global tobacco industry's 1980s Social Costs/Social Values Project, carried out to refute emerging social cost arguments against smoking.

Water Policy

At a conference on water policy hosted by AEI in 2006, William Morris, a Professor at Case Western Law School, argued that "markets are essential in providing people with water," because they "provide more information at a lower cost." Yet Morris also acknowledged the downfall of market water management, in the form of the "inevitable movement of water from poor rural areas to rich urban areas." [8]

Case Studies

NGO Watch

In June 2003, AEI and another right-wing group, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, launched a new website to expose the funding, operations and agendas of international NGOs, and particularly their alleged efforts to constrain U.S. freedom of action in international affairs and influence the behavior of corporations abroad. [4] AEI states that "The extraordinary growth of advocacy NGOs in liberal democracies has the potential to undermine the sovereignty of constitutional democracies, as well as the effectiveness of credible NGOs."[5] Ralph Nader responds with "What they are condemning, with vague, ironic regulatory nostrums proposed against dissenting citizen groups, is democracy itself." [6]

Casting Doubt on Global Warming

In February 2007, The Guardian (UK) reported that AEI was offering scientists and economists $10,000 each, "to undermine a major climate change report" from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). AEI asked for "articles that emphasise the shortcomings" of the IPCC report, which "is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science." AEI visiting scholar Kenneth Green made the $10,000 offer "to scientists in Britain, the US and elsewhere," in a letter describing the IPCC as "resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent." [7]

The Guardian reported further that AEI "has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil, and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of trustees," added The Guardian. [8]


Trustees, Officers and Advisors

"AEI is governed by a twenty-four member Board of Trustees, composed of leading business and financial executives, and its research agenda and appointments are reviewed by a Council of Academic Advisers, a group of distinguished outside scholars." [9]

Board of Trustees

"AEI is governed by a Board of Trustees, composed of leading business and financial executives."[10] As of 2009-12-31 they were:

Emeritus Trustees

As of 2009-12-31 the emeritus trustees were:[10]


Current: As of 2009-12-31, AEI's officers were: [12]

Officers in 2007

In 2007, the officers were:

  • Christopher DeMuth - President. Researches government regulation. He has been president of AEI since 1986.
  • David Gerson - Executive Vice President
  • Jason Bertsch - Vice President, Marketing
  • Henry Olsen III - Vice President, National Research Initiative
  • Danielle Pletka - Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies. Research areas include the Middle East, South Asia, terrorism, and weapons proliferation.



"AEI's Council of Academic Advisers...including distinguished academics from a variety of policy-related fields, advises AEI's president on the Institute's research agenda, publications, and appointments, and each year selects the recipient of the Irving Kristol Award."[14]

Current: As of 2009-12-31, they were:

  • James Q. Wilson, Chairman, Pepperdine University
  • Alan J. Auerbach, Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law, University of California, Berkeley
  • Eliot Cohen, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
  • Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University
  • Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Director, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University
  • Gertrude Himmelfarb, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, City University of New York
  • R. Glenn Hubbard, Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School
  • John L. Palmer, University Professor and Dean Emeritus, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
  • Sam Peltzman, Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business University of Chicago
  • George L. Priest, John M. Olin Professor of Law and Economics, Yale Law School
  • Jeremy A. Rabkin, Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
  • Richard J. Zeckhauser, Frank Plumpton Ramsey Professor of Political Economy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Current list of Adjunct Scholars

Current: As of 2009-12-31, they were:[15]

( A few of these (above) names are also present in the list titled "Alumni (who were Scholars and Fellows in June 2007)

(non-adjunct) Scholars and Fellows

Distinction between (non-adjunct) Scholars and Fellows

"A Scholar is someone with an advance degree in what they study, a Fellow is someone who has held some high position in government involving the areas they study," says AEI Resident Scholar Kenneth P. Green.[16]

Current list of (non-adjunct) Scholars and Fellows

(Current as of 2009-12-31) [17]

Personnel (old list, for archives)

(this list was present on SourceWatch, appears to contain a mixture of individuals from some of the other categories, and includes individuals who are no longer with AEI.)


Alumni (who were Scholars and Fellows in June 2007)

(Before updating to 2009-12-31, the Scholars and Fellows list was as of June 2007, from AEI. Links after each name were to their AEI personal Bio page.) A few of these individuals are actually current Adjunct Scholars (see list above).

  • Douglas J. Besharov; Education (vocational, high-school counseling, Affirmative Action, and student aid); Poverty (trends, causes, and remedies); Welfare reform (job training and program evaluation); Families (marriage, divorce, same-sex marriage, and nonmarital births); Child abuse/child welfare (foster care and delinquency); Preschool and child care (Head Start); Race and ethnicity (Affirmative Action and black middle class) - [10]
  • Mark Falcoff; Latin America - [11]
  • Ted Frank; Liability reform; Law and economics; Constitutional law; Medical malpractice; Antitrust policy; Regulation through litigation; Intellectual property - [12]
  • David Gelernter; American history; Religion, culture, and science - [13]
  • Reuel Marc Gerecht; Afghanistan; Iran; Intelligence; Middle East; Terrorism; Central Asia/former Soviet Union - [14]
  • James K. Glassman; Social Security; Economics; Technology and politics; Federal budget; Interest rates; Stock market; Taxes; Education - [15]
  • Jack Landman Goldsmith; International law (treaties and war powers); Sovereignty; Intelligence reform - [16]
  • Robert A. Goldwin; Constitutional studies; Education; Human rights and democracy - [17]
  • Christopher Griffin; Japan; Taiwan; Southeast Asia; India; Defense industrial cooperation in the Asia Pacific; China - [18]
  • Robert W. Hahn; Energy; Environment; Regulation - [19]
  • Herbert G. Klein; U.S. media and political issues; Presidential communications - [20]
  • Marvin H. Kosters; Income inequality; Labor issues - [21]
  • Michael A. Ledeen; Italy; Africa (Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe); Europe; Intelligence; Middle East; U.S. foreign policy; Iran; Leadership and the use of power; Terrorism; U.S.-China relations - [22]
  • James R. Lilley; Korea; China; Taiwan - [23]
  • N. Gregory Mankiw; U.S. economy; Fiscal policy; Entitlements; International trade policy - [24]
  • Mark B. McClellan, M.D.; Medical innovation; Medicare; Medicaid; Quality of health care; Health care policy - [25]
  • Joshua Muravchik; United Nations; Neoconservatism; History of socialism and communism; Arab-Israeli conflict; Global democracy, terrorism, and the Bush Doctrine - [26]
  • Sarath Rajapatirana; Economic policy reforms in Latin America; Macroeconomic policies of developing countries; Multilateral trade negotiations; Trade policies of developing countries - [27]
  • Joel M. Schwartz; Environment (air pollution, vehicle emissions, and chemical risks)   - [28]
  • Daniel Shaviro; Social Security; Medicare; Tax and budget policy - [29]
  • Fred Thompson; National security and intelligence (China, North Korea, and Russia) - [30]
  • Richard Vedder; Labor issues; Income inequality; Higher education financing; Fiscal policy; Immigration - [31]
  • Ben J. Wattenberg; Culture; Demographics; Public opinion/polls - [32]

Other alumni


The following was compiled by RightWeb.[18]


In 2006 AEI reported that its income was $28.4 million. Of this it states on its website that "individual contributions of more than $10 million provided the largest share of the revenue base, followed by $6 million in corporate support, and $4.7 million from foundations."[19]

Corporate donations

While the AEI acknowledges that it received over $6 million in corporate contributions in 2006, the donors are not identified in either its annual report or on its website. However, it is known that during 1997, Philip Morris contributed $100,000 to the Institute[20]. During 2007, ExxonMobil contributed $240,000 (including an addition $30,000 for the joint AEI Brookings "Judicial Education Program".)[21] (It is worth noting that AEI notes in its 2006 annual report that Lee R. Raymond, the now retired Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation is a member of the [22]

On its website it states that "national and multinational corporations who support AEI maintain close relationships with the Institute's scholars and regularly receive top-level research and analysis on specific policy interests and priorities. In addition, corporations provide important input to AEI on a wide variety of issues. Corporate involvement with AEI includes special invitations to public and private events; AEI's full slate of research studies, articles, books and other publications; access to our scholars, fellows, and senior management; and more."[23] It also states that "the Institute does not perform contract research and, with rare exceptions, does not accept government grants."[24]

It also claims that "a diversity of interests can render any individual conflict of interest small or de minimis. AEI has many hundreds of corporate, foundation, and individual donors, none of them accounting for more than a small fraction of the Institute's budget."[24] It also states that "AEI scholars and fellows are required to disclose in their published work any affiliations they may have with organizations with a direct interest in the subject of that work. AEI discloses the source of project-specific donations to research on subjects in which the donors have a material interest."[24]

Foundation funding

Media Transparency estimates that between 1985 and 2006, AEI received $44,636,101 (unadjusted for inflation) from the following funding sources[25]:

Amounts contributed by the Coors Foundation are not included.

Funding has come from many other sources, such as Amoco, the Kraft Foundation, and the Procter & Gamble Fund. AEI, unlike some think tanks, has no endowment - something which has led the organization into financial embarrassment in 1985 when its operating budget outstripped its donations by 25 percent (Newsweek, 1984).

Between 2001 and 2010, the Institute received $5.5 million from the Bradley Foundation[26] .

Contact Information

American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-862-5800
Fax: 202-862-7177
E-mail: info AT


American Enterprise - a bi-monthly magazine published by AEI. [34]

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Article on capitalism in the Wikipedia. Note that the Wikipedia states that "free enterprise" is another term for "capitalism".
  2. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Solutions for the States," 38th Annual Meeting agenda, on file with CMD, August 3-6, 2011
  3. "AEI's Diamond Jubilee, 1943-2003", an essay from the American Enterprise Institute's 2003 Annual Report.
  4. Saunders, F: The Cultural Cold War, page 419. The New Press,1999.
  5. William Baroody, Jr., Assistant to the President for Public Liaison: Files, 1974?77, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.
  6. "AEI's Diamond Jubilee, 1943-2003", an essay from the American Enterprise Institute's 2003 Annual Report.
  7. Todd Lencz, "The Baroody bunch - William Baroody Jr," National Review (, September 12, 1986.
  8. "Event Summary" American Enterprise Institute Events, accessed May 2009.
  9. AEI - Trustees, Officers, and Advisers. AEI. Retrieved on 2009-12-31. “AEI is governed by a twenty-four member Board of Trustees, composed of leading business and financial executives, and its research agenda and appointments are reviewed by a Council of Academic Advisers, a group of distinguished outside scholars.”
  10. 10.0 10.1 AEI - Board of Trustees. AEI. Retrieved on 2009-12-31.
  11. Robert Pritzker: Executive Profile & Biography. BusinessWeek. Retrieved on 2009-12-31. “Robert A. Pritzker - President and Director, Pritzker Foundation”
  12. AEI - Officers. AEI. Retrieved on 2009-12-31.
  13. Officers of AEI, accessed June 2007
  14. AEI - Council of Academic Advisers. AEI. Retrieved on 2009-12-31.
  15. AEI - Adjunct Scholars. AEI. Retrieved on 2009-12-31.
  16. Kenneth P. Green of AEI (2009-12-31). Comment on: Thin Kool-Ade. Only In It For The Gold. Retrieved on 2009-12-31. “...Resident Scholar, not Fellow. A Scholar is someone with an advance degree in what they study, a Fellow is someone who has held some high position in government involving the areas they study.”
  17. AEI - Scholars [and Fellows]. AEI. Retrieved on 2009-12-31. “Contact List of AEI Scholars and Fellows”
  18. Profile: American Enterprise Institute, RightWeb.
  19. "Finances", 2006 Annual Report, accessed December 2008.
  20. Matt Winokur, "Public Policy Groups", Philip Morris memo, April 21, 1997.
  21. ExxonMobil, 2007 "Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments", ExxonMobil website, accessed December 2008, page 1.
  22. American Enterprise Institute, "Board of Trustees", American Enterprise Institute website, accessed December 2008.
  23. American Enterprise Institute, "Corporations", American Enterprise Institute website, accessed December 2006.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 American Enterprise Institute, "AEI's Organization and Purposes", American Enterprise Institute website, accessed December 2008.
  25. "American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research", Media Transparency, accessed December 2008.
  26. Daniel Bice, Bill Glauber, Ben Poston. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. November 28, 2011.

External resources

  • NeoCon Europe American Enterprise Institute

External Articles


  • Scholars & Fellows -- List of Scholars and Fellows from AEI web site.
  • Archive of Scholars and Fellows pages from .
  • Media Transparency -- For a funding history of AEI.
  • John Saloma III, Ominous Politics, New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1984.
  • John B. Judis, Business and the Rise of K Street, Routledge Press, 2001.
  • Media Transparency, American Enterprise Institute for public policy research (profile), accessed January 2004.
  • RightWeb, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (profile), February 1991.
  • George W. Bush's February 2003 speech to the AEI about the future of Iraq.

General articles

  • "A Think Tank at the Brink," Newsweek, July 7, 1986.
  • Brian Whitaker, "US Think Tanks Give Lessons in Foreign Policy," Guardian (UK), August 19, 2002.
  • Ian Sample, "Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study," The Guardian, February 2, 2007.
  • Juliet Eilperin, "AEI Critiques of Warming Questioned: Think Tank Defends Money Offers to Challenge Climate Report," Washington Post, February 5, 2007.
  • Bill Berkowitz, "American Enterprise Institute takes lead in agitating against Iran", Media Transparency, February 26, 2007.
  • Jim Lobe, "Likudnik Hawks Work to Undermine Annapolis," Inter Press Service (, November 22, 2007.
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