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FACT CHECK: Quincy Institute Says DC Think Tanks Have Too Many Foreign Conflicts of Interest

Claim: “Washington-based think tanks have been notoriously slow to implement the same conflict of interest policies and disclosures commonly implemented by journalists, academics, and scientists.”

Who said it: Eli Clifton, a senior adviser at the isolationist Quincy Institute and “Investigative-Journalist-at-Large” at Responsible Statecraft, the Quincy Institute’s online magazine.

Why it matters: Clifton was criticizing the Atlantic Council, a think tank that came under fire this week following a Washington Free Beacon report that its president published a glowing CNBC op-ed about the United Arab Emirates without disclosing that the group had taken millions from the Gulf monarchy.

After the Free Beacon reached out to the Atlantic Council, CNBC added a lengthy editor’s note to the story that noted the “obvious conflict of interest.” The Atlantic Council, meanwhile, added notes to its other stories about the UAE and acknowledged its failure to properly disclose the UAE donations in other stories on its website.

Context: Since forming in 2019, the Quincy Institute has been marred by a series of conflicts of interest involving scholars linked to foreign governments. Its cofounder is Trita Parsi, a pro-Iran activist accused of serving as a foreign agent of Tehran.

The European Parliament last year suspended Quincy contributor Eldar Mamedov over his undisclosed lobbying for Morocco and Qatar. Mamedov, who advised the European Parliament, has authored more than 50 articles for Quincy, none of which disclose his foreign influence work.

Amir Handjani, a non-resident scholar at Quincy, has been linked to a spy operation targeting critics of Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi, the authoritarian ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven kingdoms of the United Arab Emirates. Handjani has served as a fellow at the Atlantic Council as well.

Analysis: It’s true that the Atlantic Council shills for Turkey and once took donations from a shady Ukrainian energy firm linked to Hunter Biden. But the Quincy Institute has its fair share of foreign conflicts of interest, too.

As the old saying goes, those who live in corrupt houses shouldn’t throw around accusations of financial impropriety. Sure, Quincy’s claim about “Washington-based think tanks” may be true, but the institute glosses over the fact that its scholars are covered in just as much muck as the influence-peddlers at the Atlantic Council.

But this is a fact check. And like all fact checkers, we here at the Free Beacon are unbiased adjudicators. So, we have no choice but to evaluate the truth of the Quincy Institute’s claim in a vacuum—even though outside of a vacuum, this is a clear case of the isolationist pot calling the kettle black.

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