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Aug 8, 2016

DealBook Morning Edition - August 8, 2016: Think Tanks Becomes Vehicles for Corporate Influence by Amie Tsang

The New York Times
By Amie Tsang
Think Tanks Become Vehicles for Corporate Influence They are regarded as research centers independent of moneyed interest, but think tanks have to chase funds, too and, in the process, have pushed the agendas of corporate donors.
Thousands of pages of internal memos and confidential correspondence between the Brookings Institution and its donors, obtained by The New York Times and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, show that financial support bought assurances of “donation benefits,” which included setting up events featuring corporate executives with government officials. The donors included Lennar Corporation, one of the nation’s largest home builders; JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank; and the software giant Microsoft.
Similar arrangements exist at other think tanks. Executives reject any suggestion that they are tools of corporate influence campaigns and say they are simply teaming up with donors that have similar goals. But lawyers specializing in nonprofit law said the Brookings agreements raised questions. “Tax deductions are subsidies that are paid for by all taxpayers,” said Miranda Perry Fleischer, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. “And the reason the subsidy is provided is that the charitable organization is supposed to be doing something for the public good, not that specifically benefits the private individual or corporation in the form of providing them goods or services.”
America’s Failed State As debates drag on about Puerto Rico, the situation is getting worse on the ground, but it appears to be a land of contradictions. Patriots denounce Yankee imperialism and shop at Walmart. Unemployment is at 12 percent, but there is no one to pick the coffee crop. Some have fled for the mainland, fearing a situation like Detroit, but others still are staying or coming back in the hope that the coming federal oversight board will bring change.
Miguel A. Soto-Class, president of the Center for a New Economy, a research institute in San Juan, says people ask him regularly how to prepare. But he does not know because the situation has no precendent. Mary Williams Walsh talks to some of the people on the island grappling with the unknown.
On the Agenda Donald J. Trump will present his latest economic plan at the Detroit Economic Club at 11:30 a.m.
A Moment for More Women to Speak Up Experts expect the accusations against Roger Ailes, the former chairman of Fox News, and the comedian Bill Cosby to prompt more women to speak out, but some people worry that this could be another Anita Hill moment. Ms. Hill, a law professor, accused her former boss, then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, of sexual harassment. It raised awareness about workplace behavior, but Ms. Hill faced intense criticism.
The majority of harassment episodes still go unreported and some plaintiff’s lawyers contend that the risks of speaking out have actually increased. The charge of “troublemaker” might dog women who speak out for the rest of their lives. Still, the accusations against Mr. Cosby and Mr. Ailes could push employers to take discrimination claims more seriously.
Contact amie.tsang@nytimes.com
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