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When people talk about corruption undermining American democracy, they usually have in mind our broken campaign finance system or the outsized power of corporate lobbyists. What’s less noted, but no less important, is institutional corruption at Washington think tanks. In this compelling investigative monograph, Ken Silverstein uncovers the rise of a pay-to-play ethos at these institutions.
While think tanks are generally deemed to be independent and scholarly, Silverstein lays out how nowadays many can effectively serve as unregistered lobbyists for their major donors. And unlike lobbyists and members of Congress, think tanks are not subject to financial disclosure requirements, so they reveal their contributors only if they choose to. Silverstein traces this increasingly murky world, showing how corporations and other big donors use think tanks to advance their political agendas and financial interests.
Bio: Ken Silverstein is an investigative reporter based in Washington, DC. He has been a Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and at Open Society Foundations. He served as Washington Editor of Harper’s Magazine from 2006 to 2010. Previously on the staff of the Los Angeles Times, Silverstein has also written for Mother Jones, Wallpaper, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Slate, Salon, and many other publications. He is the author of a number of books, including The Secret World of Oil and The Radioactive Boy Scout. This monograph was produced as part of his Investigative Journalist Lab Fellowship at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics (http://www.ethics.harvard.edu)