News Release

“Notable Hypocrisy” Cited as Prominent Think Tank Urges Funding Disclosure by Witnesses at Capitol


WASHINGTON — A new report by one of the nation’s most influential think tanks, the Heritage Foundation, criticizes witnesses who testified on Capitol Hill without disclosing grants they had received from the U.S. government. But the report does not mention that the Heritage Foundation presented congressional testimony on American policies toward North Korea without acknowledging that Heritage itself had received $1 million funneled from the South Korean government.

The Heritage report assesses compliance with a “Truth in Testimony” rule, adopted by Congress in January 1997, requiring that witnesses who appear before House committees disclose federal grants and contracts received during the current and past two fiscal years. The report, released Tuesday, includes a “scorecard” listing non-compliant organizations.

But the Institute for Public Accuracy contended Wednesday that the Heritage Foundation has not adhered to the broader spirit of the funding-disclosure rule, which Heritage has long advocated.

“Evidently, as far as the Heritage Foundation is concerned, it’s of vital importance that witnesses on Capitol Hill disclose any grants from the U.S. government,” said Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute, a nationwide research consortium. “But Heritage presented formal congressional testimony, advocating particular U.S. policies toward the North Koreans, while failing to disclose that it had received sizeable contributions provided by the South Korean government. The hypocrisy is notable.”

In response to an inquiry from the Institute this week, Heritage Foundation public-relations director Cheryl Rubin confirmed that Heritage received a total of $1 million via the Korea Foundation from 1993 through 1995. She said that Heritage stopped receiving funds from the Korea Foundation in 1996.

The Wall Street Journal (8/10/95) reported that the Korea Foundation “is funded by South Korea’s Foreign Ministry” and “is an affiliate of the South Korean government, according to Yoo Lee, a spokesman for South Korea’s embassy” in Washington.

In February 1995, the president of the Heritage Foundation, Edwin J. Feulner Jr., submitted testimony titled “Clinton’s Flawed North Korean Nuclear Deal” to the House International Relations Committee. Feulner’s testimony did not mention that at the time his organization’s work on foreign-policy issues was being partly subsidized by the government of South Korea.

On March 19, 1996, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, Daryl M. Plunk, testified on “U.S.-North Korean Relations” before the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House International Relations Committee. The full text of Plunk’s submitted testimony included no disclosure of the Heritage Foundation’s big-money link to the South Korean government during the previous three years.

Plunk and other policy advocates from Heritage’s Asian Studies Center have presented testimony to House and Senate committees on many occasions. A laudatory new book about the Heritage Foundation, The Power of Ideas by Lee Edwards, states that Heritage established its Asian Studies Center in 1982 and raised an endowment for the Center of “more than $13 million over the next decade and a half, almost all of it from South Korean, Taiwanese, and other Asian foundations and corporations.”

The Heritage Foundation has continued to testify on Capitol Hill about Korea-related issues without noting its recent history of financial ties with the South Korean government. This year, for instance, on Feb. 24, Heritage policy analyst John P. Sweeney testified at a hearing on the Asian financial crisis held by the trade subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. Sweeney told the subcommittee: “We can assume that South Korea is going to do the right thing. Certainly they appear to be moving in the right direction.”

For more information, contact: Theresa Caldwell or Sam Husseini at the Institute for Public Accuracy, (202) 347-0020.