Talk:Atlas Economic Research Foundation

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Mission - "Johnny Appleseed" of antiregulation groups

For close to three decades, a Virginia-based organization has been quietly working as the Johnny Appleseed of antiregulation groups. Atlas Economic Research Foundation is on a mission to populate the world with new "free market" voices. In its 2013 Year in Review report, the CEO reflects on the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and adds that many walls remain to be torn down, one of which is "the collusions between governments and unions." In the same report Atlas announced that it worked with "478 think tanks in 85 countries."[1]

Who funds Atlas

The funding comes from corporate and institutional sources. From 2007 to 2012, the foundation received $3,398,898 from the Templeton Foundation, $996,124 from the Earhart Foundation and $925,000 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation. The Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation both support the Atlas Economic Research Foundation economically, and donations from the former amounted to $136,122 during the same period.[2]

The biggest corporate donor is ExxonMobil, which has contributed $967,500 since 1998.[3] ExxonMobil itself (then Exxon) discloses contributions of $65,000 in 1998[1] and of $50,000 during 2002.[2]

Ironically, Atlas requires its protégé think tanks to be "independent." "That is, independent of corporations, independent of governments, independent of political parties and even independent of universities," Atlas President Alejandro A. Chaufen said in an April 1999 interview.

In a May 1998 fundraising pitch to tobacco giant Phillip Morris, Chaufen explained that keeping its think tanks off the dole of political parties, universities, government agencies and lobbies "helps keep their ideas and recommendations untainted by real or perceived political or organizational ties" and "helps protect them and us against potential scandal. Think tanks tied to politicians and parties can easily become instruments of corruption. Indeed, in several instances, public officials have enriched themselves and their allies through the 'think tanks' they control," Chaufen wrote.[3]

In 1995 alone Philip Morris contributed $475,000 to Atlas according to an internal budget document released as part of the settlement of the legal action brought by several U.S. states' attorneys general. In 1997, despite a tight budget, PM staff recommended Atlas receive $150,000 because of the organization's ability, through its events and public advocacy work, to "positively impact the regulatory environment, particularly in Latin America." The think tanks fostered by Atlas, PM staff wrote approvingly, results in "an improved operating environment for all PM businesses."

More recently, Atlas has gained financial support the late British mutual fund businessman, John Templeton, and the Templeton foundation is today the biggest single donor. In conjunction with Atlas, the Templeton Foundation has established the Templeton Freedom Prizes for Excellence in Promoting Liberty. The prizes, $10,000 for the winner and $5,000 for the runner up are awarded to "market-oriented poverty programs; for ethics and values; for social entrepreneurship and for student outreach".

  1. Atlas Economic Research Foundation, "Year in Review 2013," organizational website, accessed Jun 17, 2014.
  2. Conservative Transparency, "Conservative Transparency," financial records, accessed June 20, 2014.
  3. Conservative Transparency, "Conservative Transparency," financial records, accessed June 21, 2014.