Ben Freeman

Ben Freeman

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 PUBLICATIONS

REPORT
May 12, 2021

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.

The Saudi Lobby in 2020
REPORT
April 22, 2021

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.

The Taiwan Lobby
ISSUE BRIEF
April 14, 2021

Recent Proposals to Amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act: A Survey

by Ben Freeman, Brian Steiner, and Tarun Krishnakumar

This Policy Brief surveys recent proposals to amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act to identify key trends and areas of focus.

Recent Proposals to Amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act: A Survey

LATEST NEWS

May 4, 2021

The Rise of Restraint Is Shaking Up Washington

Ben Freeman quoted

Policy research is not free, and the world of nonprofit think tanks that help generate them is in fact a billion-plus dollar industry. “The theory is that think tanks serve as a kind of middle ground between academia and public policy,” said Ben Freeman, who studies think tank funding at the Center for International Policy, itself a think tank. “It’s like the ivory tower for policy nerds—so many great nerd worlds coming together.”

April 27, 2021

Qatar Adds US Lobbying Muscle After Saudi Rift, Trump's Snub

Ben Freeman quoted

"Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy and author of a 2020 report on Qatar’s lobbying operations, said the recent spate of engagements was 'something of an offensive hiring spree' for the country. 'If I’m Qatar right now, I see an opportunity in that you have a Biden administration that’s not cozied up to your adversaries, specifically Saudi Arabia,' he said. The crisis 'served as something of a lesson' for Qatar, which recognized it didn’t 'have immediate, indirect access to the policy makers they need to influence at that time,' said Freeman."

May 3, 2021

Justice ramps up Giuliani probe

Ben Freeman quoted

Ben Freeman, the director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, thinks that Giuliani may be more exposed to potential liability than he claims because of how broad the language is in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which governs the disclosure of work within the U.S. on behalf of foreign principals.

April 23, 2021

Tanks and Think Tanks: How Taiwanese Cash is Funding the Push to War with China

Ben Freeman quoted

“It would be naive to believe that Taiwan’s funding of think tanks is not pushing them to take pro-Taiwan or anti-China positions,” Ben Freeman, the director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, told MintPress, adding: After all, why would Taiwan keep funding think tanks that are critical of Taiwan? There’s a Darwinian element to foreign funding of think tanks that pushes foreign government funding to think tanks that write what that foreign government wants them to write. Taiwan is no exception to this rule.”