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Director, Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Dr. Ben Freeman is the Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, where he works to expose how foreign governments are influencing U.S. public policy and elections. This work builds upon his book, The Foreign Policy Auction, which was the first book to systematically analyze the foreign influence industry in the U.S.

Before launching the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative, Dr. Freeman was the Deputy Director of the National Security program at Third Way. Prior to joining Third Way, he served as the National Security Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight from 2011 to 2013, where he spear-headed creation of the “Foreign Influence Database,” a repository of propaganda distributed by foreign agents that was previously unavailable online.

Dr. Freeman earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, completing a dissertation that investigated the ability of foreign governments to effectively lobby for economic and military assistance from the United States. Upon graduation, Dr. Freeman taught in the Political Science Department and the Bush School of Government and Public Policy at Texas A&M. His work has appeared in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, Politico, and CNN, and he has testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Recent Features



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Recent Publications

Lobbying in the U.S. by Countries in Africa: An Overview

By Ben Freeman

This report analyzes foreign lobbying filings from countries in Africa between 2016 and 2020, spotlights the top spenders from these countries on foreign lobbying during this time period, and discusses the implications for U.S. foreign policy.

Turkey's Lobby in the United States

by Ben Freeman

A detailed look in the relationship between Ankara and Washington, and what has made made U.S.-Turkey relations more strained than ever before.

The Saudi Lobby in 2020

by Ben Freeman

At every turn, however, the Saudi monarchy has been able to rely on an expansive and entrenched collection of lobbying and public relations firms in the U.S. that have worked to minimize the damage from these transgressions. Despite the best efforts of the Saudi lob- by, it has become increasingly clear that Saudi Arabia has lost the battle for the Beltway and seen its influence in Washington dramatically decline. In response, the Kingdom has done what any monarchy with millions to spend on influence in America might do: shift its influence operations to the states.

Restoring Trust in the Think Tank Sector

by Ben Freeman

Given public distrust of the U.S. policymaking process, think tanks have a valuable opportunity to take tangible and necessary steps to help reinstill public confidence in the government’s ability to address our nation’s economic, health, environmental, and foreign policy challenges.

The Taiwan Lobby

by Holly Zhang and Ben Freeman

American democracy has continually seen influence domestically from international players pushing their own portfolio of preferences. Taiwan's complicated relationship with China and their uniqueness as a state barring for sovereignty are no exception, in an effort to maintain a democratic stronghold the island of Taiwan lobbies within American borders. In this new report, a full analysis of these lobbying efforts is conducted and synthesized.

Latest News

US: New legislation seeks to target foreign funding behind congressional testimony

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

The CIP report [] found that several Middle Eastern countries were among the top foreign donors to Washington-based think tanks. The UAE and Qatar were among the top ten countries donating to these institutions, donating $15.4m and $8.5m respectively, according to the report. Morocco, meanwhile, was included in the top 20 countries with donations totaling $2.8m.

Erdogan Is Focused on His Image. Don't Disturb Him With Femicide

Ben Freeman cited

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

In October, the Washington-based Center for International Policy published a report detailing Turkey’s lobbying activities, including the companies it hired to promote Turkish policy and the amount of money it paid.

The Epic Foreign Policy Fail of the Turkey Lobby

By Ben Freeman

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

While we say much about successful foreign influence efforts, we almost never ever talk about foreign influence fails. That changes today. I present to you, perhaps the greatest foreign influence fail in recent memory: The Turkey lobby.

Joe Biden Promised To Take On Saudi Arabia Over Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis Won.

Ben Freeman quoted

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

“By enlisting trusted community members across the United States to help peddle the best possible version of the kingdom, the Saudi lobby has given its brand a homegrown, American-as-apple-pie shine,” analysts Ben Freeman, Brian Steiner and Leila Riazi of the Center for International Policy think tank wrote in April.

The FEC's Appalling Decision to Allow Foreign Money to Corrupt State Ballot Initiatives

Ben Freeman interviewed

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

Ben Freeman discusses the FEC's decision to allow foreign money to corrupt state ballot initiatives on the Background Briefing podcast with Ian Masters.

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