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Hudson Statement on New York Times Story About Think Tanks and ‘Corporate Influence’

Hudson Institute

A story in today’s New York Times asserts that a number of prominent Washington think tanks “are pushing agendas important to corporate donors…. sometimes without disclosing their connections to [those] corporate interests.” Hudson Institute—whose October 2015 report Sharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict is briefly referenced at the end of this story—would like to clarify two key matters about its own work that the Times has either obscured or misstated.

First, contrary to what the Times reports, no one representing Hudson Institute originally “approached Huntington [Ingalls Industries] officials” seeking financial support for our October 2015 aircraft carrier report, nor were Huntington officials ever offered, in “exchange” for such support, an “opportunity to suggest revisions” of a substantive nature to any subsequently published Institute research. Instead, it was Huntington Ingalls Industries that first approached Hudson with a proposed contribution to the Institute’s newly-created Center for American Seapower, a portion of which eventual contribution was later used to defray the costs of Sharpening the Spear. Nor was Huntington Ingalls ever promised, or permitted to exercise, editorial control over that report. Hudson sought Huntington’s review of the report’s preliminary drafts for purposes of factual accuracy only; consistent with longstanding and formal Institute policy, the arguments and conclusions in Sharpening the Spear were always—and completely—for Hudson and its researchers to determine and control.

Second, it is simply not the case that Hudson was ever guilty of a “failure to disclose” financial support from Huntington Ingalls Industries for the Institute’s Center for American Seapower and its October 2015 aircraft carrier report. As the Times was made aware long before today’s story was published, that report’s coauthor, Hudson adjunct fellow Bryan McGrath, happily and explicitly acknowledged Huntington’s financial support to other journalists on the same day Sharpening the Spear was first released. A similar public acknowledgement was made at a press conference about the report a few days later on Capitol Hill. And Hudson’s 2015 Annual Report prominently lists Huntington Ingalls Industries among the Institute’s “$100,000+” donors for last year. We have “subsequently revised” printed copies of Sharpening the Spear simply to include a direct reference to Huntington’s support that was originally omitted due to an editing error. In short: Nothing about that report or its funding sources has ever been a secret.

Other Washington think tanks can speak for themselves, but Hudson Institute remains fully confident in—and proud of—the policies and procedures it has in place to protect the integrity, independence, and reputation of its research. And we remain committed to funding-disclosure practices that have recently earned us a 4-star “broadly transparent” rating from the think-tank monitoring organization transparify.org.