In an email Wednesday morning to its board of directors and obtained by POLITICO, Atlantic Council President Frederick Kempe announced that the New American Engagement Initiative would soon be hosted by the Stimson Center, a group of much smaller foreign policy oriented DC think tank. He excluded any mention of the original funder of the initiative.
“After more than two years with the Atlantic Council, the New American Engagement Initiative will be moving to the Stimson Center in the coming days,” he wrote. “Since its launch, we have framed the aspiration of the initiative as injecting creative approaches and thinking into increasingly complex geopolitical challenges – from Putin’s war in Ukraine and related nuclear issues to new aspirations of the Sweden and Finland to NATO membership and their security implications.”
It’s unclear how much funding the Council will have to return, if any, as the New American Engagement Initiative moves to Stimson. At the time of the announcement, the Council said Koch’s donation would be in the form of a five-year grant.
When asked if the Atlantic Council chose to end the grant because of a potential impact Koch’s name would have on fundraising, Miriam Smallman, spokesperson for the think tank , denied that was the reason, pointing out “[W]We had another great fundraising year.
“Over the next month, the New American Engagement Initiative team will complete an amicable transition from the Atlantic Council to a new home and focus on the Stimson Center,” Smallman said in an email. . She said the initiative’s co-directors, Preble and Burrows, “approached Stimson with an interest in expanding” into areas where Stimson “has a long history of leadership.”
Koch’s philanthropic group did not return a request for comment.
David Solimini, director of strategic communications at the Stimson Center, said the organization was approached by the leadership team of the New American Engagement Initiative. But he declined to say whether the Stimson Center would receive the remainder of the Koch grant. He noted that the think tank had accepted funding from Koch in the past. In 2021, the Stimson Center brought in $112,180 in general support from the Charles Koch Institute.
The Atlantic Council was not the only think tank to receive funding from Koch as part of the effort that led to the New American Engagement Initiative. Koch distributed the remainder of the $10 million in grants to the Center for the National Interest, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the RAND Corporation.
The Council’s staff reshuffle is the latest example of turmoil over think tanks accepting funding from Koch or the feathered ruffled take on the war in Ukraine. Two experts from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft — launched, in part, thanks to a $500,000 donation from Koch — recently resigned from the organization. National security analyst Joseph Cirincione, a former nonresident senior fellow, said he decamped from the Quincy Institute because of his stance on the war in Ukraine. And another Quincy affiliate, retired Major General Paul Eaton, announced his resignation from the board in June.