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The Lexington Institute is a conservative policy institute seeking to “inform, educate, and shape the public debate of national priorities in those areas that are of surpassing importance to the future success of democracy, such as national security, education reform, tax reform, immigration, and federal policy concerning science and technology.”
Lexington advocates limited government and strong libertarian principles, as laid out in its mission statement: “The Institute … actively opposes the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation, and strives to find nongovernmental, market-based solutions to public-policy challenges. We believe a dynamic private sector is the greatest engine for social progress and economic prosperity.”
But unlike other libertarian-leaning outfits like the CATO Institute, the Lexington Institute takes a generally favorable view of military spending. Because of its general advocacy in favor of Pentagon spending (if not always specific programs), and because it receives substantial support from military contracting companies, Harper’s magazine has called the institute “the defense industry's pay-to-play ad agency.” The magazine quoted Loren Thompson, the Institute’s chief operating officer, as saying, “I'm not going to work on a project unless somebody, somewhere, is willing to pay. This is a business.” A June 2008 report from the Mobile Press-Register noted that “almost all funding for … the Lexington Institute comes from the same defense contractors who frequently have a stake in the programs that [Thompson] writes about.”
Thompson has written in opposition to defense cuts by sequestration, or the automatic cuts to both military and domestic programs triggered by Congress’ inability to reach an agreement on the balance of cuts to each in 2011. In a June 2012 entry on the Institute’s “Early Warning” blog, Thompson cited an industry report claiming that substantial job losses would occur in a handful of presidential swing states if sequestration were to go through. “[O]bscure issues like sequestration of the military budget could be decisive in a tight November race,” he wrote. “That argues for doing something now to avert sequestration, rather than waiting for action by a lame-duck session of Congress after the election.”
In other recent publications, the institute has proposed ways to maintain an aggressive defense posture even if sequestration cuts go through. “Achieving market-level labor costs, engaging public-private competition, moderating red tape, using appropriate contracting approaches and sensible contract lengths can meet both currently planned costs cuts and sequestration-level cuts without impacting procurement, sustainment, readiness, manning, or strategy,” said an April 2012 Lexington report. Echoing several advisers to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, the report added, “First priority in defense must be keeping ships, aircraft, and tanks ready to support a long-term strategic posture and foreign policy driven by the global threat rather than by budget limitations.”
Merrick Carey and Don Soifer founded the Lexington Institute in 1998 to concentrate on eight topics: defense, homeland security, alliance relations, education, Cuba, immigration, international economics, and postal reform. The institute has eight core staff members. James Andrew Courter serves as Chairman, with Merrick Carey as CEO, Loren B. Thompson as Chief Operating Officer, Don Soifer as Executive Vice President, Philip Peters and Daniel Gouré as Vice Presidents, and Constance Baroudos and Monica Kern as Program Directors.
Trained as a lawyer, Courter is a former Republican congressman from New Jersey and the CEO and vice chairman of the IDT Corporation. In the House, Courter was a member of the House Services and Iran-Contra committees. He co-edited a 1986 document entitled “Defending Democracy,” which his bio says is “a collection of speeches and essays on matters of national security.”
Loren Thompson, a former military strategy professor at Georgetown University, is a frequent media commentator on national security and weapons issues, and the head of the Source Associates consulting firm. At Lexington he “oversees security studies, the institute’s largest project.”
Daniel Gouré has primary responsibility over the Institute’s national security program. A past member of the Pentagon transition team for the George W. Bush administration, he has had corporate affiliations with Science Applications International Corporation, SRS Technologies, R&D Associates, and System Planning Corporation. Gouré was previously deputy director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ International Security Program.
Of Lexington’s eight members, Thompson and Gouré write most extensively on defense issues. Gouré complements his written treatises on weapons systems with his work as a senior analyst for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a company that the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has accused of war profiteering.
Both Thompson and Gouré have also argued for dissolving NATO and relying solely on U.S. preemption, primarily because of “different values” between Americans and Europeans.
Lexington’s Philip Peters defies conservative thinking with his views on Cuba. On this issue, the Lexington Institute has established connections with more left-leaning groups like the Latin America Working Group, the Center for International Policy, and the Washington Office on Latin America. Peters frequently advocates lifting the embargo on Cuba and allowing Americans to freely travel to the country. He has praised the Obama administration’s reforms with respect to U.S. Cuba policy but noted that they are incomplete and limited. “It is clear that the Obama Administration is not seeking a major Cuba initiative, and is far more likely to act through incremental steps than bold strokes,” he wrote in March 2010.
Peters has also been a prominent advocate for a more lenient immigration policy. He criticized the Bush administration for the drop in the number of refugees allowed in the country and argues that the fear that some of these refugees might be future terrorists is unfounded due to the amount of time and bureaucratic hurdles refugees face in order to gain entry.
The Lexington Institute claims an annual revenue of approximately $2.5 million. Media Transparency reports that between 1998 and 2010, the Lexington Institute received $646,000 from the Smith Richardson Foundation. ExxonMobil donated $10,000 in 2002.
 Sean Reilly, “Analyst's switch stirs tanker talk,” Mobile Press-Register, June 9, 2008, http://www.al.com/news/press-register/index.ssf?/base/news/121300295470260.xml&coll=3.
 Loren Thompson, “Report On Defense Sequestration Finds Big Jobs Impact In Swing States,” Lexington Institute “Early Warning” blog, June 26, 2012, http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/-report-on-defense-sequestration-finds-big-jobs-impact-in-swing-states--?a=1&c=1171.
 Lexington Institute, “Meeting the DoD Sequestration Level Cost Cuts Without Cutting Strategy, Programs or Readiness,” April 2012, http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/meeting-the-dod-sequestration-level-cost-cuts-without-cutting-strategy-programs-or-readiness?a=1&c=1129.
 Daniel Gouré, “The Military Helicopter Industrial Base,” White Paper, April 1, 2005, http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/docs/532.pdf; The Center for Public Integrity, “Windfalls of War,” Science Applications International Corporation, http://www.publicintegrity.org/wow/bio.aspx?act=pro&ddlC=51.
 Loren B. Thompson, “Twilight of the Atlantic Alliance?” Issue Brief, June 30, 2003, http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/alliance.asp?aid=542; Loren B. Thompson, “NATO’s Decay and the Search for a Few Key Friends,” Remarks to the Heritage Foundation Conference on Global Alliances, June 26, 2003, http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/alliance.asp?aid=543
 Latin America Working Group, “Explore the Issue: U.S.-Cuba relations,” http://www.lawg.org/countries/cuba/explore.htm; Washington Office on Latin America, “Economic Shifts in Cuba,” http://www.wola.org/cuba/economic_shifts.htm.
 Philip Peters, “President Obama and Cuba,” Palabra Neuva, March 2010, http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/library/resources/documents/cuba/cuban-triangle/palabranuevamarch2010.pdf.
 The Lexington Institute, “Immigration Articles for 2003 and 2004,” http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/immigration.asp?yid=2004
 Lexington Institute, “2009 Form 990,” GuideStar, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/541/880/2009-541880642-0660115e-9.pdf
 Media Matters Action Network, “Conservative Transparency: Lexington Institute,” Media Matters, http://mediamattersaction.org/transparency/organization/Lexington_Institute/funders?year=-