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Brookings president resigns after being accused of secretly lobbying for Qatar

Federal authorities said retired four-star general John Allen used his work email in efforts to influence US policy on behalf of Doha.

Reporting | Washington Politics

Retired four-star Marine general John R. Allen resigned his position as president of the Brookings Institution just days after reports emerged that Federal investigators accused Allen of secretly lobbying for Qatar.

“John Allen has resigned to ensure Brookings can continue to pursue its mission without distraction,” a Brookings spokesperson told Responsible Statecraft.

Allen — the former commander of NATO and allied forces in Afghanistan — had allegedly obstructed the investigation into his lobbying activities, provided a “false version of events” to federal agents, and used his Brookings email account to conduct secret lobbying work at the height of an economic embargo against Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

“​​I request that [sic] Board of Trustees of the Brookings Institution accept my resignation from the presidency of the institution as the Chief Executive Officer,” Allen wrote in a letter obtained by Responsible Statecraft dated June 12, 2022. He made no direct mention of the warrant accusing him of his illegal lobbying activities but said he was proud of his work at the think tank. 

His resignation letter concluded:

While I leave the institution with a heavy heart, I know it is best for all concerned in this moment. I also know the institution will be wisely guided by the Brookings Board of Trustees and will be admirably and competently led by the management that remains. The Brookings Institution is a national and international asset, and always will be. I wish the Board and every member of the Brookings family the very best in the challenging days ahead.

Allen’s letter of resignation can be viewed here. He has denied the allegations made by Federal investigators.

Federal investigators have not claimed that anyone at Brookings, other than Allen, was involved in the alleged secret lobbying for Qatar. But his alleged use of Brookings’ resources to conduct his work for Qatar raises questions about Brookings’ lucrative relationship with Qatar and the ethical implications of maintaining close ties to a foreign government. Qatar contributed tens of millions of dollars to Brookings over 14 years before the funding relationship ended last year.

“The integrity and objectivity of Brookings’s scholarship constitute the institution’s principal assets, and Brookings seeks to maintain high ethical standards in all its operations,” the co-chairs of Brookings' board of trustees said in an email to the “Brooking Community'' confirming Allen’s resignation. “Our policies on research independence and integrity reflect these values.”

ISAF Commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen (C) waits to testify before the House Armed Services Committee about "Recent Developments in Afghanistan" on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 20, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
Reporting | Washington Politics
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