In 2012, three major changes happened in the policy world inside the Beltway: three presidents of three conservative and libertarian think tanks stepped aside, and now we have three new presidents in their place.
At Cato, long time president Ed Crane left as part of a settlement ending a long and bitter battle between him and Charles and David Koch. The battle was over who controlled the Cato Institute, after former chairman William Niskanen died. In the end, the shareholders’ agreement that was in place was dissolved, Ed Crane left, the Koch brothers agreed to be hands off, and in came John Allison, former CEO of BB&T bank. While I wrote a fond tribute for Mr. Crane when he left, I look forward to Allison’s tenure and I hope for the best.
At the other libertarian think tank in DC, the founder and president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is also preparing to step down. Fred Smith will leave on New Year’s (though he’ll stick around to keep fighting the good fight), to be replaced by Mercatus VP Lawson Bader. Bader has experience on Capitol Hill and in think tanks, and as being the “kilts guy.” (His Twitter handle is @LibertyNKilts, for crying out loud.) He’s a great choice for such an esteemed institution as CEI.