The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), once called the “epicenter” of the neoconservative intellectual movement by Newsweek, is one of the oldest think tanks in the United States. While AEI was originally a domestic policy think tank dedicated exclusively to promoting “free, competitive enterprise” at home, over the decades AEI has entrenched itself in every field of policy debate and has become an especially prominent voice on foreign policy issues, such as the invasion of Iraq. The think tank’s historical influence has extended to the White House, as President Ronald Reagan appointed several dozen AEI scholars and fellows to work in his administration and President George W. Bush appointed over 20, including Vice President Dick Cheney. AEI is governed by a Board of Trustees that includes executives from companies such as Molson Coors Brewing Company, State Farm Insurance, and Cigna Corporation.

Notable Facts:

  • Every year, AEI confers the Irving Kristol Award in recognition of individuals “who have made exceptional intellectual and practical contributions to improve government policy, social welfare, or political understanding.” The award is named for the late Irving Kristol, AEI senior fellow emeritus, who is “widely considered to be the founder of American neoconservatism,” according to AEI. Past winners include Dick Cheney, Alan Greenspan, Charles Krauthammer, David Petraeus, Paul Ryan, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.
  • In March 2010, former Bush speechwriter David Frum abruptly resigned from AEI after seven years as a fellow. While the parties provided conflicting accounts of his departure, it was widely reported that Frum was fired over his criticism of conservatives and the Republican Party.
  • On September 13, 2001, an AEI scholar published a column in the Wall Street Journal suggesting that Iraq had been involved in the 9/11 attacks. In October 2002, AEI began hosting “a monthly conference series titled ‘Post-Saddam Iraq,’ which…addressed the process of Iraq’s potential transition to a democratic regime.”
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Grants In
Grants Out
Total Expenses
12015$272,670,682$84,616,388$80,950,119$0$38,611,315View 990
22014$222,403,155$64,011,505$62,435,926$0$35,435,906View 990
32013$199,952,163$45,780,708$43,305,253$0$31,797,938View 990
42012$154,989,249$38,831,796$36,460,964$0$32,235,853View 990
52011$153,771,226$34,577,193$31,138,309$0$29,030,559View 990
62010$138,205,460$13,185,521$12,427,227$0$13,967,167View 990
72009$137,496,414$52,524,255$47,301,847$183,124$25,662,670View 990
82008$108,177,680$50,952,567$58,988,984$943,167$29,924,825View 990
92007$93,018,056$40,910,056$34,063,743$0$27,126,721View 990
102006$77,407,132$27,796,809$20,643,029$0$23,453,052View 990
112005$72,465,483$33,671,688$31,870,055$0$21,396,857View 990
122004$56,058,276$20,124,853$18,058,612$0$19,911,935View 990
132003$51,191,488$24,934,545$22,848,885$0$19,324,796View 990
142002$39,594,217$17,199,157$15,519,675$0$17,560,831View 990

2 transactions on record as a donor.

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1American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy ResearchUniversity System of Maryland$183,1242009+
2American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy ResearchFoundation for Defense of Democracies$943,1672008+
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