Smith Richardson Foundation
last updated: February 22, 2009
Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.
Although often associated with the passel of foundations that buttress the American right-wing—including, among others, the Scaife, Castle Rock, and Bradley foundations—the Smith Richardson Foundation (SRF) donated the vast majority of its nearly $170 million in grants during 1996-2005 to educational institutions and scholarly endeavors. Its two largest grantees during that period were Yale and Harvard, both of which received more than $7 million. However, coming in at a not-so-distant fourth place was the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a cornerstone think tank of neoconservatism, which received just under $6 million during the period.1
Created in 1935 by H. Smith Richardson, son of medicine entrepreneur Lunsford Richardson, the inventor of Vicks VapoRub, the foundation is managed by members of the Richardson family, whose various drug companies have created a number of well known products, including Clearasil, Nyquil, and Oil of Olay cream.2
The foundation’s mission is to “contribute to important public debates and to help address serious public policy challenges facing the United States. The Foundation seeks to help ensure the vitality of our social, economic, and governmental institutions. It also seeks to assist with the development of effective policies to compete internationally and to advance U.S. interests and values abroad.”3 The foundation’s International Security and Foreign Policy Program, according to its website, has in recent years “sought to assist the policy community’s efforts to combat global terrorism by supporting projects on critical issues, such as improving intelligence gathering. Because the battle against terrorism will also be fought on the ideological front, the Foundation has supported projects on improving U.S. public diplomacy in order to promote democracy and to give foreign publics a better understanding of U.S. policies.”4
Together with the Olin and Bradley foundations, Smith Richardson has been a key supporter of AEI since the Ronald Reagan presidency, when the think tank emerged as an influential policy shop.5 SRF also helped foster the work of early neoconservative figures like Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz, and Irving Kristol through its support of the various institutions they have been helped lead, including The Public Interest, Commentary, and the Committee on the Present Danger.6
Today, despite its support for centrist-oriented think tanks like the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment,7 the foundation remains a major financier of neoconservatism, funding several other organizations frequently associated with that political faction, including Freedom House, the Hudson Institute, and the Manhattan Institute.8
From Reagan to Today
Leslie Lenkowsky, SRF’s director of research in the early 1980s who later served as head of the Corporation for National and Community Service in the George W. Bush administration, once said of the foundation’s work, “We don’t create ideas, we nurture them, a bit like fertilizer. … If the sprout is there, we make it grow into a mighty oak.”9 In particular, Lenkowsky thought that Podhoretz’s and Kristol’s ideas would “have a long-term impact” on how people thought about public affairs.10
Building on this support, Kristol helped convince Smith Richardson to back Jude Wanniski’s research on supply side economics. Wanniski’s publications served as a guide for Ronald Reagan’s economic policies when Jack Kemp, convinced of the theory’s merits by Kristol, brought it to Reagan’s attention.11
Lenkowsky also oversaw SRF’s efforts to fund college newspapers, including The Dartmouth Review, where a young Dinesh D’Souza got his start. As editor-in-chief, D’Souza used the newspaper to out homosexual students by investigating subscribers,including their parents. Files from the university’s Gay Student Alliance, apparently stolen, appeared in the paper, some of which contained “names and parts of letters written by lonely students.” D’Souza went on to be a key crusader against the so-called liberal bias in universities, beginning with his book Illiberal Education. SRF joined with other conservative foundations to fund much of this work.12
Devon Gaffney Cross succeeded Lenkowsky as SRF’s director of research, serving two years in that post during the mid-1980s. Gaffney Cross, the sister of Reagan-era defense official Frank Gaffney Jr.—head of the hawkish Center for Security Policy—has also served as a director of the neoconservative advocacy group the Project for the New American Century and worked as an advisor to the Lincoln Group, the controversial “strategic communication management” firm that was awarded a Pentagon contract to work in Iraq in 2004, “after military officials concluded that the United States was failing to win over Muslim public opinion.”13
In 1981, SRF provided seed money for the Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America (Prodemca), a hardline group involved in implementing U.S. foreign policy in Central America. In 1986, a member of Prodemca’s executive committee, Penn Kemble, an early neoconservative trailblazer, told the Washington Post that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), another SRF grant recipient, had given his group $400,000. According to Sidney Blumenthal, Prodemca had been “funneling most of the money to opponents of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.” Prodemca spokespersons denied using NED-supplied monies to secure newspaper ads supporting U.S. funding for the Contras.14
Also in the early 1980s, Smith Richardson teamed up with other conservative foundations to support the Capital Legal Foundation, which in 1984 was involved in defending Gen. William Westmoreland in his suit against CBS for a documentary made about his Vietnam years. The lawsuit turned political when Westmoreland’s lawyers complained that the law firm CBS employed was creating an unequal playing field in the courtroom. CBS lawyers countered that conservative philanthropies such as Scaife (the largest backer), Olin, and Smith Richardson were “using the general to advance their own objectives: to legitimize the Vietnam War, intimidate the media, and lower the legal obstacles to libel judgments.”15
In 2000, SRF provided startup funds to the Dui Hua Foundation, an International Republican Institute-sponsored organization that addresses issues concerning Chinese political prisoners. Also regarding China, SRF sponsored a RAND study that analyzed hypothetical scenarios were the United States to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.16
SRF has also been a major backer of controversial domestic policy programs and causes. It supported the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), which has litigated free speech cases and advocated against “political correctness” codes—most notably by defending professors accused of sexually harassing students. Said CIR’s director of research, Robert R. Detlefsen, “Many of our clients would be white male college professors because these are the folks who find themselves victimized by political correctness.”17
The foundation supported the American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, a research initiative created to assess the business impact of environmental regulations which in 2001 was given the dubious distinction of being named the Clean Air Villain of the Month by the Clean Air Trust. Described as a “polluter friendly” organization, the Trust accused the center of trying to associate smog cleanup operations with higher cases of skin cancer among the population.18 Then-AEI president Christopher DeMuth was a contributing analyst to the project; Robert W. Crandall and Clifford Winston represented Brookings.19
In November 2003, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal opened an investigation into the funding practices of Smith Richardson and The Beinecke Foundation—both based in Connecticut. The Boston Globe reported that SRF’s top executives—Peter Richardson, Marin Strmecki, and Robert L. Coble—had their vehicles paid for by the foundation. Richardson, whose annual salary at the time was $364,000, drove a $63,000 Audi A8 luxury sedan, while the other two, whose annual salaries were $225,000, owned an Audi station wagon and Jeep Cherokee, respectively, which each cost roughly $36,000.20
Reported the Boston Globe: “In an interview, Richardson said he could not recall how the cars were approved by the foundation, which funds public policy research. Of his Audi, Richardson said, “I wanted to get a safe sedan.” Smith Richardson also spent $6,700 for a portrait of a family benefactor, $2,600 on a chair, and bought four lamps at $1,300 a piece.”21
Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.
Please click the following link to bookmark this page:
If the link doesn't appear don't worry, your browser doesn't support this function.
Try pressing 'ctrl + d' on a PC or 'cmd + d' if your using a Mac.
Smith Richardson Foundation Résumé
- Yale University, $992,283
- Harvard University $869,931
- Center for Strategic and International Studies $499,105
- American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research $1,328,250
- Manhattan Institute $348,304
- Northwestern University $352,945
- Boston University $408,545
- America Abroad Media $1,225,360
- Nonproliferation Policy Education Center $409,676
- Johns Hopkins University $796,354
- Brookings Institution $1,049,210
- The Rand Corporation $1,806,181
- Columbia University $749,250
- Corporation for the Advancement of Policy Evaluation $3,217,155
- National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. $794,190
- New River Education Fund $469,740
- Wisconsin Project On Nuclear Arms Control $330,000
- Tufts University $500,000
- Yale university Press $225,000
- United States Military Academy $690,744
- University of Maryland Foundation, Inc. $346,644
- New Leaders for New Schools $447,900
- Freedom House $300,000
- Center on Education Policy $405,000
Smith Richardson Foundation
60 Jesup Road
Westport, CT 06880
“The mission of the Smith Richardson Foundation is to contribute to important public debates and to help address serious public policy challenges facing the United States. The Foundation seeks to help ensure the vitality of our social, economic, and governmental institutions. It also seeks to assist with the development of effective policies to compete internationally and to advance U.S. interests and values abroad. This mission is embodied in our international and domestic grant programs.”22
Board Members and Key Staff (2009)
Peter L. Richardson, trustee chairman and president of the foundation; Dr. Marin J. Strmecki, senior vice president; Ross F. Hemphill, vice president and chief financial officer; Dr. Arvid R. Nelson, secretary; and Karia W. Frank, assistant secretary; Dr. Nadia Schadlow, Senior Program Officer, International Security and Foreign Policy; Allan Song, Senior Program Officer, International Secuirty and Foreign Policy; Mark Steinmeyer, Senior Program Officer, Domestic Public Policy 23
Board of Governors (2009)
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jane B. Preyer, Christopher DeMuth, Adele Richardson Ray, Stephen Goldsmith, Lunsford Richardson Jr., Peter L. Richardson, Fred C. Ikle, Stuart S. Richardson, Roderick MacFarquhar,, Gen. Edward C. Meyer (Ret.), E. William Stetson, Arvid R. Nelson, June E. O’Neill, Martin Feldstein, Lawrence Sherman, R. James Woolsey, and Edward F. Zigler.24
Revenue (2007) 25
Top Grantees (2007) 27
Right Web is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
The Right Web Mission
Right Web tracks militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy.
1. Mediatransparency.com, “Smith Richardson Foundation Grant Recipients,” http://www.mediatransparency.org/recipientsoffunder.php?funderID=6.
2. Dana Canedy, “H. S. Richardson, 79, Dies; Heir to Vicks Cold Remedies,’ New York Times, July 31, 1999.
3. Smith Richardson Foundation, “Mission,” http://www.srf.org/mission/ (accessed February 10, 2008).
4. Smith Richardson Foundation, “History”; Smith Richardson Foundation, “International Security and Foreign Policy Program,” http://www.srf.org/grants/international.php (accessed February 10, 2008).
5. See Irving Kristol’s comment on the importance of Olin and Bradley to AEI, in Irving Kristol, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an In Idea, Free Press, 1995, page 33.
6. Bernard Weinraub, “Institute Plays Key Role in Shaping Reagan Programs,” The New York Times, January 14, 1981; Bernard Weinraub, “Foundations Assist Conservative Cause,” The New York Times, January 19, 1981; Kathleen Teltsch, “400 Intellectuals Form ‘Struggle for Freedom’ Unit,” The New York Times, February 19, 1981
7. Foundation Center, Smith Richardson Foundation 990 IRS Form, 2007, http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org//990pf_pdf_archive/560/560611550/560611550_200712_990PF.pdf
8. Foundation Center, Smith Richardson Foundation 990 IRS Form, http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org//990pf_pdf_archive/560/560611550/560611550_200712_990PF.pdf
9. Bernard Weinraub, “Foundations Assist Conservative Cause,” The New York Times, January 19, 1981
10. Bernard Weinraub, “Foundations Assist Conservative Cause,” The New York Times, January 19, 1981
11. David Shribman, “Washington Talk; Neoconservatives and Reagan: Uneasy Coalition,” The New York Times, September 27, 1981; Walter Goodman, “Irving Kristol: Patron Saint of the New Right,” The New York Times, December 6, 1981
12. Dudley Clendinen, “Conservative Paper Stirs Dartmouth,” The New York Times, October 13, 1981; Evan McKenzie, “Right-wing Money Creates a Political Issue,” St. Petersburg Times Florida, June 26, 1991
13. Jeff Gerth and Scott Shane, “U.S. Is Said to Pay to Plant Articles in Iraq Papers,” The New York Times, December 1, 2005; Devon Gaffney, Research Director, Engaged to Marry Jay Cross in June,” The New York Times, April 9, 1989.
14. Sidney Blumenthal, “Grantee of U.S. Endowment Funds Sandinista Opponents; Group’s Advertisements Urge Aid for Rebels,” The Washington Post, March 19, 1986
15. David Margolick, “Westmoreland V. CBS: Legal Drama Intensified by 2 Contrasting Lawyers,” The New York Times, May 31, 1984; George Lardner Jr., “Pittsburgh Millionaire Financed Westmoreland’s Suit against CBS; Scaife, of New Right Causes, Paid Much of $3 Million Tab,” The Washington Post, February 28, 1985
16. Julie Chao, “China Invites Activist to Discuss Prisoners,” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, May 1, 2000; Ching Cheong, “U.S. Think Tank Tests Out War Scenarios,” The Straits Times (Singapore), December 1, 2000; Rosenberg, “John Kamm’s Third Way,” The New York Times, March 3, 2002
17. Evan McKenzie, “Right-wing Money Creates a Political Issue,” St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 1991; James Andrews, “Conservative Law Groups Adopt Liberals’ Model,” Christian Science Monitor, October 3, 1994; Davidson Goldin, “Law Center Wages a Fight against Political Correctness,” The New York Times, August 13, 1995
18. Cindy Skrzycki, “Bringing Brainpower to the Commentary on Rules,” The Washington Post, October 9, 1998; Clean Air Trust: Clean Air Villain of the Month, November 2001
19. Cindy Skrzycki, “Bringing Brainpower to the Commentary on Rules,” The Washington Post, October 9, 1998; Clean Air Trust: Clean Air Villain of the Month, November 2001
20. Francie Latour and Beth Healy, “AG In Conn. Begins Probe: 2 Foundations for Charities are Eyed,” The Boston Globe, November 11, 2003; Francie Latour, “Spotlight Report / Charity Begins At Home; Costly Furnishings Come at Charities’ Expense,” The Boston Globe, November 9, 2003
21. Francie Latour, “Spotlight Report / Charity Begins At Home; Costly Furnishings Come at Charities’ Expense,” The Boston Globe, November 9, 2003
22. Smith Richardson Foundation, Our Mission, http://www.srf.org/mission/
23. Smith Richardson Foundation, Board of Trustees, http://www.srf.org/people/Trustees.htm (accessed February 11, 2009); Smith Richardson Foundation, Program Staff, http://www.srf.org/foundation/staff.php (accessed February 11, 2009).
24. Smith Richardson Foundation, Board of Governors, http://www.srf.org/people/Governors.htm (accessed February 11, 2009); Christopher Demuth, “Think-Tank Confidential: What I learned during two decades as head of America’s most influential policy shop.” Wall Street Journal, http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110010718
25. Foundation Center, Smith Richardson Foundation 990 IRS Form, 2007, http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org//990pf_pdf_archive/560/560611550/560611550_200712_990PF.pdf
26. Smith Richardson Foundation, Program Staff, http://www.srf.org/foundation/staff.php
27. Foundation Center, Smith Richardson Foundation 990 IRS Form, 2007, http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org//990pf_pdf_archive/560/560611550/560611550_200712_990PF.pdf