American Enterprise Institute

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is one of the oldest and most influential of the pro-business right-wing think tanks. It promotes the advancement of free enterprise capitalism, and has been extremely successful in placing its people in influential governmental positions, particularly in the Bush Administration. AEI has been described as one of the country's main bastions of neoconservatism.

American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

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.

Read the latest news on the American Enterprise Institute on the group's Right Wing Watch index page

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.



  • AEI sponsors and participates in debates and lectures on many issues.
  • AEI scholars have testified before Congress on a variety of issues.
  • Several AEI scholars have written articles in favor of government censorship of the arts.
  • Scholar Michael Novak has argued that prayer belongs in public schools and that it doesn't violate the establishment clause.
  • AEI scholars have advocated federally-funded school voucher programs.


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.


AEI Fellows and Scholars [partial list]

  • Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney and former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.
  • David Frum, a presidential speechwriter for President Bush, contributing editor to the right-wing magazine Weekly Standard.
  • Christina Hoff Sommers, anti-feminist crusader, author of Who Stole Feminism? How Women Betrayed Women.
  • Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, a book that asserted inherent intelligence differences between the races.
  • Ben J. Wattenberg, host of PBS weekly show "Think Tank."

Updated: August 2006

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