May 03, 2021
I was happy to see the New York Post take note of the work of the Revolving Door Project (RDP) at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. RDP has been very aggressive in vetting potential appointees in the Biden administration. It tries to prevent people with clear conflicts of interest from getting top-level jobs.
The immediate basis for the Post’s ire was the fact that Alex Oh was forced to step down from a top position at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Before getting the position at the SEC, Oh had worked at a major corporate law firm where she represented several of the country’s largest companies. One of these was Exxon-Mobil, which she defended in a suit claiming that claimed it was responsible for rape, torture, and murder committed by the Indonesian military in the vicinity of one of the company’s oil drilling operations. A judge in the case considered Oh’s conduct sufficiently egregious that he asked her to produce evidence that she should not be subject to sanctions. (Those interested in a fuller account of RDP’s case against Oh can read it here.)
The fact the Post did not agree with RDP’s position is not surprising, but what was striking was its description of the Center for Economic and Policy Research as a “well-funded and influential left-wing think tank.” While I like to think that CEPR is influential, as a co-founder and co-director for 18 years, I strongly dispute the claim that we are well-funded. My guess is that most senior Wall Street lawyers have annual salaries that exceed CEPR’s entire budget. Our office has a leaky roof, failing air conditioning and heating systems, and rodents.
The reality is that the people at CEPR do the work we do because we think it is important. We don’t get big bucks. People on the right may use politics as a path to personal enrichment, but that is not the way things work on our corner on the left. The Post is welcome to disagree with our work, but the idea that we are doing it for the money is a flat-out lie.