Third Way’s Response To Sen. Warren: Banks Should Disclose Donations

December 4, 2013 11:24 a.m.

The think tank Third Way said it agrees with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) call for major banks to disclose donations to think tanks.

“Our response is that we agree that all public companies should disclose who they give money to —not sure why she’s singling out these six but everybody should disclose in the interest of fairness to these shareholders. So we agree with her,” Third Way co-founder Matt Bennett told TPM on Wednesday.

Bennett’s statement is in response to a letter Warren wrote calling the CEOs of six of the country’s major banks to disclose donations to think tanks. Two days earlier, the president and senior vice president for policy at Third Way wrote an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal criticizing the economic populism of Warren and New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio (D). The op-ed seemed to spur Warren to write the letter. If it was, Bennett said it didn’t really address the content of the Journal op-ed.

“But we’re not sure how that’s related to the argument that we were making in the op-ed about entitlement reform and populism,” Bennett continued.

Bennett also said Third Way discloses its major donors on the Board of Trustees page of its website. 

“Our major donors are listed on our website and none of them are from those banks,” Bennett said. “And so we don’t think that that was directed necessarily at us,” Bennett continued. “I mean she was careful to make it about all think tanks on the left and the right. But we disclose our board of trustees and people can go and have a look for themselves. But no think tank discloses all of their donors —maybe one does. But no think tank in our space does.”

In a follow-up email, Bennett said, “This organization supported Dodd-Frank, featured Paul Volker, Sheila Bair and Gary Gensler at Third Way public forums, and strongly supported the ACA and every budget deal that raises taxes on the wealthy. Also, we have been at the forefront of the fights for marriage equality, immigration reform, and gun control.”

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