Meet the AEI

I find myself wanting to know more the American Enterprise Institute in more detail.

Right Wing Watch has a very out of date page on them, with stats from 2003 and updated in 2006. That makes a useful snapshot from the past, though. Check out its board of trustees at that time, not to mention its finances.

Established: 1943

President/Executive Director: Christopher DeMuth

Finances: $24,934,545 (2003 income)

Employees: more than 50 resident scholars and fellows

Board of Trustees: Chairman Bruce Kovner (Caxton Associations, LLC); Vice Chair Lee R. Raymond (Exxon Mobil Corporation); Treasurer Tully M. Friedman (Friedman, Fleischer, & Lowe LLC); Gordon M. Binder (Coastview Capital, LLC); Harlan Crow (Crow Holdings); Christopher DeMuth (American Enterprise Institute); Morton H. Fleischer (Spirit Finance Corp.); Christopher B. Galvin (Motorola); Raymond V. Gilmartin (Merck & Co.); Harvey Golub (American Express Co.); Robert F. Greenhill (Greenhill & Co., LLC) ; Roger Hertog (Alliance Capital Management Corporation); Martin M. Koffel (URS Corporation); John A. Luke, Jr. (MeadWestvaco Corp.); L. Ben Lytle (Anthem, Inc.); Alex Mandl (Gemplus International); Robert A. Pritzker (Colson Associates, Inc.); J. Joe Ricketts (Ameritrade Holding Corporation); Kevin B. Rollins (Dell, Inc.); John W. Rowe (Exelon Corp.); Edward B. Rust, Jr. (State Farm Insurance Co.); William S. Stavropoulos (Dow Chemical Co.); Wilson H. Taylor (CIGNA Corp.); Marilyn Ware (American Water); James Q. Wilson (Pepperdine University) Publications: Monthly newsletter, dozens of books and hundreds of articles and reports each year, and a glossy policy magazine, The American Enterprise.

It’s considered a think tank; RWW calls it that; but its board is corporate corporate corporate. James Q Wilson is the only one identified with a university as opposed to a corporation.

Principal Issues

  • American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a think tank for conservatives, neoconservatives, and conservative libertarians.
  • Areas of interest include: America’s “culture war,” domestic policy and federal spending, education reform, neoconservatism, affirmative action, and welfare reform.
  • President George W. Bush has appointed over a dozen people from AEI to senior positions in his administration. AEI claims that this is more than any other research institution.

Can AEI really be considered a research institution? Is it considered as such by any actual legitimate researchers? Is it, in short, an “Institute” in the same sort of way the Tobacco Institute is an “Institute”? Does it do any kind of research other than searching for the conclusions its sponsors are looking for?

I suspect the answer is no, but I don’t know for sure.

Background and History

  • Most of AEI’s Board of Directors are CEOs of major companies, including ExxonMobil, Motorola, American Express, State Farm Insurance, and Dow Chemicals.
  • Big donors include the top conservative foundations, including Smith-Richardson Foundation, the Olin Foundation, the Scaife Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
  • Corporate supporters have included: General Electric Foundation, Amoco, Kraft Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, General Motors Foundation, Eastman Kodak Foundation, Metropolitan Life Foundation, Proctor & Gamble Fund, Shell Companies Foundation, Chrysler Corporation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, General Mills Foundation, Pillsbury Company Foundation, Prudential Foundation, American Express Foundation, AT&T Foundation, Corning Glass Works Foundation, Morgan Guarantee Trust, Smith-Richardson Foundation, Alcoa Foundation, and PPG Industries.
  • Kenneth Lay, CEO of Enron, was until recently on the board of trustees of American Enterprise Institute. Other famous former trustees include Vice President Dick Cheney.

None of that inspires confidence, or suggests that AEI is anything other than a conservative corporate advocacy organization.



  1. Barb's Wire says

    My understanding was that they are very much involved in writing conservative policy, often which are then brought to congress as is and tabled with no changes…. just as AEI wrote it.

  2. mildlymagnificent says

    AEI is just one among many – far too many – organisations with very specific agendas and very skilled operators working against the public interest.

    They cut their teeth on sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt about the health risks of tobacco and the Risks To Freedom of government involvement in such “personal choices”. I’d highly recommend reading Naomi Oreskes & Erik M Conway’s Merchants of Doubt to get the full flavour of these poisonous people and their horrible ideas. Or watch the video documentary based on the book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *