Non-profit

Brookings Institution

The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.. (link)
Website:

www.brookings.edu/

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

53-0196577

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $67,901,806
Expenses: $85,684,378
Assets: $568,244,186

Type:

Think Tank

Formation:

1972

President:

John R. Allen

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The Brookings Institution is an American think tank aligned with the political establishment which conducts research and policy analysis on foreign policy, metropolitan policies, and economics. The Institution has its main office in Washington, D.C. and satellite offices in Doha, Qatar; Beijing, China; and New Delhi, India.

The Institution’s predecessor organization, the Institution for Government Research, was the first think tank in the United States. Since its founding in the early 20th century, the Brookings Institution has been one of the most prominent and well-funded think tanks in the world. The University of Pennsylvania rated the Institution the most influential think tank from 2016 to 2018, though it was surpassed by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 2019. 1

The Institution identifies as independent and non-partisan and has been associated with both sides of the political spectrum by media outlets. However, the Institution has been consistently critical of President Donald Trump, and its employees donate overwhelmingly to Democratic candidates.

History

In 1916, industrialist Robert Brookings founded the Institution for Government Research, the first private think tank in America. The Institution first gained acclaim when its economists helped President Warren Harding formulate legislation to create the US Bureau of the Budget. In 1922 and 1924, Brookings created two sister organizations to support the Institution’s work, the Institution of Economics and the Robert Brookings Graduate School of the Washington University in St. Louis. In 1927, Brookings merged the three organizations into the Brookings Institution. 2

Throughout the middle of the 20th century, the Institution’s economists continued to work closely with government officials on a wide range of fiscal and foreign-policy issues. For instance, Leo Pavlofsky, the head of the Institution’s international studies department, helped design the United Nations and the Marshall Plan for the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. And in the mid-1970s, Institution personnel successfully pushed for the creation of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. 3

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Institution’s policy priorities shifted more toward the domestic economy. Institution economists assisted in designing President Ronald Reagan’s tax policies culminating in the 1986 Tax Reform Act. In the 1990s, the Institution encouraged and designed policies to decentralize federal welfare programs back to states and localities. 4

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Institution shifted more of its policy emphasis to foreign policy, with many of its scholars being outspoken supporters of George W. Bush’s neoconservative foreign policies. 5 In the 2010s, the Institution expanded its scope to support environmentalist policies. 6

Political Ideology

The Brookings Institution does not identify with any ideology but is often associated with identifications across the political spectrum. At different times, the New York Times has referred to the Institution as centrist, 7 conservative, 8 and liberal. 9 A 2005 study from the Quarterly Journal of Economics concluded the Institution was centrist. 10 Over 4,000 ratings from AllSides.com came to the same conclusion. 11 The group has been identified as aligning with the broader political establishment. 12

Political Contributions

As a 501(c)(3), the Institution is not legally permitted to give political campaign contributions. However, employees and executives of the Institution have given over $850,000 to Democratic candidates since 1996, or 96% of the total federally reported contributions by people reporting Brookings as their employer. In the 2016 election cycle, Democrats received over $154,000 while Republicans received no disclosed contributions. 13 As of August 2020, in the 2020 election cycle, Brookings employees have given Democrats $113,000, with Presidential nominee Joe Biden (D-DE) receiving almost $36,000 and former presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend), and Bernie Sanders (D-VE) each receiving under $5,000. Meanwhile, Republican candidates have received $45 through a single donation to President Donald Trump. 14

Leadership

Most of the executives and board members of the Brookings Institution have worked for previous presidential administrations. 15

John R. Allen

Current Brookings president John R. Allen is a retired military officer who was appointed by President Barack Obama to head the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. He also spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for president. 16

Ted Gayer

Executive vice president Ted Gayer worked in the administration of President George W. Bush. In 2003 and 2004, he served as on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. From 2007-2008, he was the deputy assistant secretary for Economic Policy at the Department of the Treasury. 17

Glenn Hutchins

Co-chair of the board Glenn Hutchins is a financier and current board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In 1992, he was on President Bill Clinton’s transition team and then served as a special advisor on economics and health care policy for two years. 18

Suzanne Nora Johnson

Co-chair of the board Suzanne Nora Johnson is a former Goldman Sachs and AIG executive. In the 2016 election cycle, she contributed over $33,000 to Democratic candidates. 19

Jennifer Berlin

Vice president of strategy and operation Jennifer Berlin worked as a senior advisor to the Department of Defense under President Obama and President Trump from 2015-2017. Previously, she served as the acting director of public affairs of President Obama’s Department of Commerce. From 2007-2010, Berlin worked as Senator Jack Reed’s (D-RI) deputy press secretary. From 2005-2007, she worked as a program coordinator for the Council on Foreign Affairs, a centrist think tank. 20

Amy Liu

Vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program Amy Liu is a policy analyst who has worked at the Institution for over 20 years. Prior, she worked as a special assistant in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration. In 2013, she served as a special advisor to the US Secretary of Commerce under President Obama. 21

Trump Administration

The Brookings Institution has been consistently critical of President Donald Trump’s administration. In 2016, shortly after Trump’s election, an Institution article stated, “for many whites, and especially for white men, a vote for Donald Trump was a cry of pain.” 22 An October 2017 article made an early case for President Trump’s impeachment on the grounds of obstruction of justice. 23 In March 2020, an Institution article declared Trump’s administration a “failed presidency” for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 24 The Institution has also tracked the employment turnover rate in the White House, claiming in April 2020 that 85% of Trump’s initial presidential team had been fired. 25

Funding

In 2019, the Brookings Institution received over $102 million in revenue, over $78 million of which came from donations from a wide array of organizations. 26

Among the Institution’s largest donors are the  Hewlett Foundation, Arnold Ventures, and the Hutchins Family Foundation, three left-of-center grantmaking foundations which each donated over $2 million in 2019 alone. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Kresge Foundation, three of the largest private foundations in the United States and major supporter of left-wing causes, all gave between $1-2 million. The left-of-center Carnegie Corporation of New York, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Annie E. Casey Foundation gave between $500,000 and $1 million, as did the libertarian Charles G. Koch Foundation. 27

Left-of-center donors in the $250,000-$500,000 range include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Omidyar Network Fund, Tides Center, and Walton Family Foundation, as well as former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke 28 (who is also a distinguished fellow at the Institution 29). Left-of-center donors in the $100,000-$250,000 range include Democracy Fund, Joyce Foundation, New Venture Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Andrew H. and Ann R. Tisch Foundation. 30

Foreign government funding

The Institution receives considerable funding from foreign governments, with eight government donors giving at least $100,000 in 2019. That year, the Institution received more than $2 million from the Embassy of Qatar, one of the organization’s largest long-term donors. The government of Norway gave the Institution between $500,000 and $1 million. Government donors in the $250,000-$500,000 range include the Australian government, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Taiwan’s Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, and the Turkish Industry Business Association. Finally, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs both gave between $100,000 and $250,000. 31

Criticisms

Government Funding

Forbes contributor Adam Andrzejewski has accused the Brookings Institution of soliciting federal funds in exchange for policy influence. From 2008 to 2017, the Institution earned $20 million in contracts from federal agencies. These contracts include $23,000 from President Obama’s Office of the President for employee training, $6,135 for individual fellowships from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and $50,000 for a two-day seminar. 32

Andrzejewski also claimed to have found instances of the Institution supporting specific policies that benefit agencies after receiving funding from them. For instance, the Institute billed the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for $1.8 million, and later published a paper praising USAID’s foreign activity. 33

Foreign Influence

In September 2014, the New York Times published a report alleging that foreign governments were buying influence at American think tanks which named the Brookings Institution as a major recipient of foreign funds alongside the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Atlantic Council. The report cited some legal scholars who claimed that such funding ties violated the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act which requires groups paid by foreign governments that influence domestic policy to publicly register as foreign agents. 34

In 2007, the Institution opened a branch office in Doha, the capital of Qatar. In 2013, the government of Qatar agreed to make a $14.8 million donation to the Institution over four years. Though the terms of the donation were confidential, former Institution visiting fellow Saleem Ali claimed that the Institution strategically left out information on public reports which could hurt Qatari interests. 35

The Institution also received considerable donations from the government of Norway, which funneled $5 million into US policy influencers in 2013 in an attempt to boost American foreign aid. 36 Both the governments of Qatar and Norway have been big donors to the Institution ever since. In 2019, Qatar gave over $2 million and Norway gave between $500,000 and $1 million, according to the Institution’s annual report. 37

According to a Washington Post report, between 2016 and 2018, the Institution received $300 thousand from FutureWei Technologies, an American subsidiary of Huawei, a Chinese tech giant with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. In October 2017, the Institution published a report on smart city development which praised Huawei’s technology. 38

Corporate Influence

In August 2016, the New York Times published an article critical of the influence of business interests on think tanks which singled out the Brookings Institution. In the early 2010s, the Institution received $400 thousand from the Lennar Corporation, one of the largest real estate development companies in the United States. Confidential emails would later reveal that the Institution promised Lennar “donation benefits,” including setting up connections with elected officials. The Institution even named a major Lennar executive as one of its senior fellows. Similar arrangements were formed between the Institution and other corporations, including JPMorgan Chase, K.K.R, Hitachi, and Microsoft. 39

Associations with the “Steele Dossier”

During the 2016 Presidential election, interests associated with the Democratic Party and the campaign of Hillary Clinton commissioned Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research into Republican nominee Donald Trump; the most prominent product of that research was a private intelligence report of alleged illicit connections between President Trump and the Russian government compiled by former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele known as the “Steele Dossier.” 40 In July 2020, the “primary subsource” for the Dossier was revealed to be Igor Danchenko, a Russian national, Ukrainian attorney, and former researcher at the Brookings Institution from 2005-2010. 41

While working at the Institution, Danchenko was mentored by future Trump White House adviser Fiona Hill, who would later testify at President Trump’s impeachment proceedings. In 2016, Hill reconnected with Steele, an old friend. Eventually, Hill connected Danchenko with Steele, and the latter paid the former to use personal Russian sources to dig up dirt on President Trump. Meanwhile, Steele also connected with then-Institution president Strobe Talbot who shared his anti-Trump stance. 42

Danchenko’s sources would serve as the basis for the crucial and most outlandish findings in the Steele dossier. Danchenko’s sources for the dossier were eventually revealed to be childhood friends with no connections to the Kremlin with whom Danchenko would “drink heavily,” while gathering the supposed intelligence. 43

References

  1. “2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report.” University of Pennsylvania. June 18, 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=think_tanks.
  2. “Brookings Institution History.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/about-us/Brookings-institution-history/#:~:text=The%20Brookings%20Institution%20traces%20its,issues%20at%20the%20national%20level.&text=In%201916%2C%20Robert%20S.
  3. “Brookings Institution History.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/about-us/Brookings-institution-history/#:~:text=The%20Brookings%20Institution%20traces%20its,issues%20at%20the%20national%20level.&text=In%201916%2C%20Robert%20S.
  4. “Brookings Institution History.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/about-us/Brookings-institution-history/#:~:text=The%20Brookings%20Institution%20traces%20its,issues%20at%20the%20national%20level.&text=In%201916%2C%20Robert%20S.
  5. Yglesias, Matthew. “Very Serious Indeed.” Atlantic. August 24, 2007. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2007/08/very-serious-indeed/45957/.
  6. “Brookings Institution History.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/about-us/Brookings-institution-history/#:~:text=The%20Brookings%20Institution%20traces%20its,issues%20at%20the%20national%20level.&text=In%201916%2C%20Robert%20S.
  7. Deparle, Jason. “Next Generation of Conservatives (By the Dormful).” New York Times. June 14, 2005. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/14/politics/next-generation-of-conservatives-by-the-dormful.html.
  8. Glaberson, William. “Closing Guantanamo may not be easy.” New York Times. November 16, 2018. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/world/americas/16iht-gitmo.1.17859399.html.
  9.  Redburn, Tom. “ECONOMIC VIEW; Friedman And Keynes, Trading Pedestals.” New York Times. September 24, 2000. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/24/business/economic-view-friedman-and-keynes-trading-pedestals.html.
  10. Groseclose, Tim; Milyo, Jeffrey. “A Measure of Media Bias.” Quarterly Journal of Economics. November 2015. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20110608074559/http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/groseclose/pdfs/MediaBias.pdf.
  11. “Brookings Institution.” AllSides.com. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.allsides.com/news-source/Brookings-institute.
  12. Klein, Ezra. “The Problem With Brookings,” American Prospect. February 27, 2007. https://prospect.org/article/problem-brookings/.
  13. “Brookings Institution.” Open Secrets. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/totals?cycle=A&id=D000032148.
  14. “Contributions.” Open Secrets. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/totals?cycle=A&id=D000032148.
  15. “Brookings Leadership.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/about-us/Brookings-leadership/.
  16. “4-Star General Delivers Forceful Case For Clinton at DNC.” CBS Philly. July 28, 2016. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2016/07/28/4-star-general-delivers-forceful-case-for-clinton-at-dnc/.
  17. “Ted Gayer.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/experts/ted-gayer/.
  18. “Glenn H. Hutchins.” Federal Reserve Bank of New York. April 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.newyorkfed.org/aboutthefed/orgchart/board/hutchins.
  19. “Democratic Congressional Committee Campaign.” Open Secrets. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?sort=A&cmte=C00000935&cycle=2016&Page=4.
  20. “Jennifer Berlin.” LinkedIn. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-berlin-800182b/.
  21. “Amy Liu.” Brookings Institute. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/experts/amy-liu/.
  22. Reeves, Richard V. “Middle America’s malaise helped Trump to victory, but he has no cure.” Brookings Institution. November 28, 2016. Accessed August 6, 2020.  https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2016/11/28/middle-americas-malaise/.
  23. Berke, Harry H.; Bookbinder, Noah; Eisen, Norman. “Presidential obstruction of justice: The case of Donald J. Trump.” Brookings Institution. October 10, 2017. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/research/presidential-obstruction-of-justice-the-case-of-donald-j-trump/.
  24.  Kamarck, Elaine. “Trump’s failed presidency.” Brookings Institution. March 16, 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/03/16/trumps-failed-presidency/.
  25. Tenpas, Kathryn Dunn. “And then there were ten: with 85% turnover across President Trump’s A Team, who remains?” Brookings Institution. April 13, 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/04/13/and-then-there-were-ten-with-85-turnover-across-president-trumps-a-team-who-remains/.
  26. “Annual Report 2019.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019-annual-report.pdf.
  27. “Annual Report 2019.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019-annual-report.pdf.
  28. “Annual Report 2019.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019-annual-report.pdf.
  29. “Ben S. Bernanke.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/experts/ben-s-bernanke/.
  30. “Annual Report 2019.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019-annual-report.pdf.
  31. “Annual Report 2019.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019-annual-report.pdf.
  32. Andrzejewski, Adam. “Brookings Institution – The Progressive Jukebox Funded by U.S. Taxpayers.” Forbes. June 2, 2017. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamandrzejewski/2017/06/02/Brookings-institution-the-progressive-jukebox-funded-by-u-s-taxpayers/#640d74375e53.
  33. Andrzejewski, Adam. “Brookings Institution – The Progressive Jukebox Funded by U.S. Taxpayers.” Forbes. June 2, 2017. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamandrzejewski/2017/06/02/Brookings-institution-the-progressive-jukebox-funded-by-u-s-taxpayers/#640d74375e53
  34. Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke; Confesorre, Nicholas. “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tank.” New York Times. September 6, 2014. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/us/politics/foreign-powers-buy-influence-at-think-tanks.html.
  35. Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke; Confesorre, Nicholas. “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tank.” New York Times. September 6, 2014. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/us/politics/foreign-powers-buy-influence-at-think-tanks.html.
  36. Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke; Confesorre, Nicholas. “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tank.” New York Times. September 6, 2014. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/us/politics/foreign-powers-buy-influence-at-think-tanks.html.
  37. “Annual Report 2019.” Brookings Institution. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.Brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019-annual-report.pdf.
  38. “Huawei Paid Brookings to Write Favorable Reports.” Think Tank Watch. December 11, 2018. Accessed August 6, 2020. http://www.thinktankwatch.com/2018/12/huawei-paid-Brookings-to-write.html.
  39. Lipton, Eric; Williams, Brooke. “How Think Tanks Amplify Corporate America’s Influence.” New York Times. August 7, 2016. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/us/politics/think-tanks-research-and-corporate-lobbying.html.
  40. Williams, Katie Bo. “Five things to know about Fusion GPS.” The Hill. August 25, 2017. Accessed March 21, 2018. http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/347858-five-things-to-know-about-fusion-gps
  41. “Igor D.” LinkedIn. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/igordanchenko/.
  42. Sperry, Paul. “Meet the Steele Dossier’s ‘Primary Subsource’: Fabulist Russian From Democrat Think Tank Whose Boozy Past the FBI Ignored.” RealClear Investigations. July 24, 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2020/07/24/meet_steele_dossiers_primary_subsource_fabulist_russian_at_us_think_tank_whose_boozy_past_the_fbi_ignored_124601.html.
  43. Sperry, Paul. “Meet the Steele Dossier’s ‘Primary Subsource’: Fabulist Russian From Democrat Think Tank Whose Boozy Past the FBI Ignored.” RealClear Investigations. July 24, 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020. https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2020/07/24/meet_steele_dossiers_primary_subsource_fabulist_russian_at_us_think_tank_whose_boozy_past_the_fbi_ignored_124601.html.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1940

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Jun Form 990 $67,901,806 $85,684,378 $568,244,186 $61,109,184 Y $47,454,002 $738,145 $2,345,253 $5,533,852 PDF
    2020 Jun Form 990 $79,395,655 $94,943,466 $492,547,778 $56,583,614 Y $63,041,977 $1,124,071 $4,204,899 $6,106,063 PDF
    2019 Jun Form 990 $103,852,338 $94,913,486 $529,123,659 $57,774,287 Y $78,330,045 $469,961 $4,388,059 $5,063,535 PDF
    2018 Jun Form 990 $96,886,932 $98,957,742 $531,848,060 $57,064,943 Y $65,378,153 $555,991 $3,744,717 $5,876,787 PDF
    2017 Jun Form 990 $112,894,566 $100,059,312 $525,211,269 $58,729,261 Y $96,843,646 $419,585 $3,726,411 $5,008,949 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $109,394,429 $104,635,286 $473,918,510 $59,631,373 Y $90,539,102 $0 $3,037,932 $4,559,807 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $106,387,190 $107,926,103 $482,069,162 $61,160,022 Y $76,694,383 $0 $13,894,953 $4,591,824 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $106,526,578 $99,568,985 $496,001,963 $52,763,951 Y $89,488,748 $0 $2,624,735 $3,888,041 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $100,602,993 $96,726,329 $462,634,222 $58,394,541 Y $80,276,594 $0 $5,459,389 $4,190,841 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $130,784,440 $93,962,754 $436,930,915 $55,622,853 Y $114,836,670 $0 $3,495,177 $4,124,064 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $100,222,125 $88,922,671 $410,039,317 $55,596,127 Y $86,934,790 $0 $3,397,856 $3,200,993 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Brookings Institution

    1775 MASS AVE NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-2103