In spite of the financial crisis and its consequences, Russia still remains a potentially attractive market, presenting some promising investment opportunities with the potential for dynamic growth in sales and profits. But foreign investors might be faced with several significant challenges while working in Russia, because informal practices—the spoken and unspoken understandings that complement or sometimes even contradict official procedures—often prevail over formal rules and laws.
In December 2010, the FIFA Committee awarded Qatar the right to host the World Cup in 2022. The day was historic on many levels: it was the first time a Middle Eastern country was awarded the right, the first time FIFA awarded two tournaments at the same time (with 2018 going to Russia), and it was the first time a country of that size was due to host such a major global event.
The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), says its website, “drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue,” and “combines politically-balanced policy making with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.” The BPC, which is often described in press accounts as a “centrist think tank,” is highly influential and the media and Congress treat its reports and pronouncements as consequential and weighty.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a local public health official. Budgets are tight. Childhood obesity is on the rise. And there is no playground in the heart of your city. When a story appears in the local paper about the need for such a playground, a fast food company comes to the rescue.
In our recent story for The New Republic, Ken Silverstein and I examined think tank scholars who simultaneously work as registered lobbyists. We knew of situations worth examining: a resident think tank fellow also representing Polish oil interests, and the director of a homeland security program lobbying for defense contractors, to name a couple. But we wanted to go beyond the anecdotal and gain context. Was this part of a larger system in which registered lobbyists have access to think tanks from the inside?
Scholars at these think tanks have attracted media attention as experts on everything from China’s defense spending, to drones and oil pipelines, to new toll lanes and Medicaid. Just in the past week, they’ve collectively released dozens of policy and research papers. They’re shaping decisions that impact our day-to-day lives.
Time was, Washington lobbyists followed a certain protocol at political fundraisers. They’d drink the bourbon, eat a few crab cakes, surrender their checks and move on. Anyone familiar with the form knew better than to ask a lawmaker for a favor while money was on the table—that’s what the morning after follow-up call was for.
To Jeff Connaughton, former lobbyist, White House lawyer, and Senate staffer, the disappearance of that small restraint is not a good sign.