Think Tank Funding
Since the 1970s in the US, oil industry money was invested in conservative think tanks through business people like billionaire Republican Richard Mellon Scaife and Mobil Oil. Chemical industry money was invested through foundations such as the Olin Foundation. Lynde and Harry Bradley invested manufacturing money, Smith Richardson invested pharmaceutical money, and the Koch family invested energy money.
This influx of money meant not only that conservative think tanks proliferated but that other think tanks moved towards the right. As Jerome Himmelstein points out in his book To the Right: ‘The political mobilization of big business in the mid 1970s gave conservatives greater access to money and channels of political influence. These helped turn conservative personnel into political leaders and advisers, and conservative ideas, especially economic ones, into public policy.’
A dozen or so foundations provide most of the funding for most conservative think tanks including the AEI, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Hoover Institution (see table below).
Donations by Selected Foundations to Selected Think Tanks 1985-2002
|Hoover Institution||AEI||Heritage Foundation||Cato Institute|
|Sarah Scaife Foundations||$7.6 million||$4.4 million||$17 million||$1.8 million|
|Lynde and Harry Bailey Foundations||$1.7 million||$15 million||$13 million||$560,000|
|John M. Olin Foundation||$5 million||$7 million||$8 million||$800,000|
|Koch Family Foundations||$5000||--||$1 million||$12.5 million|
|Smith Richardson Foundation||$1.3 million||$4 million||--||--|
|Selected Corporate Foundations||$128,000||$1.6 million||$341,000||$241,000|