The Crane Chronicles, Part III: Ed Gone Wild

The increasingly bitter and public shareholder dispute at Cato between Ed Crane and the Koch brothers has brought to light Ed Crane’s collaboration with the Democrat Media Complex, as well as troubling accounts of some of his past dealings with his Board.

In the Crane Chronicles Part I, we reported that Ed Crane partnered with left-wing New Yorker writer Jane Mayer to launch a smear campaign against the Koch brothers. Crane then used Mayer’s hit piece as justification for arguing that Cato should distance itself from the Kochs.

In the Crane Chronicles Part II, we reported on Crane’s antics at a Cato Board dinner at which he shouted at two of his board members before storming out of the room, leaving Cato donors, policy analysts, and senior managers in stunned silence.

In response to the Cato shareholder dispute, a number of industry insiders have described in unflattering terms the culture at Cato under Ed Crane’s leadership.

Steven Hayward of National Review recently stated, “I can also see how Crane can make Steve Jobs look warm and cuddly by comparison (I suspect Ed will regard this as a compliment).”

Erick Erickson of Red State described Crane’s actions throughout the controversy over Cato’s shareholder agreement more brusquely, calling Crane’s behavior “egregious” and “frankly rather spoiled.” Erickson concludes, “If Cato is to die, it will be because of Ed Crane’s leadership.”

While offering praise to Ed Crane, Forbes writer John Tamny concedes that, “Cato’s impish, irascible and very strident culture is a function of the man who runs it….the atmosphere at Cato events is probably quite unlike what one would witness at other think tank gatherings.”

In the latest development, perhaps emboldened by the raging shareholder dispute, former staffers of this gold-standard of libertarian think tanks have actively come forward to paint a disturbing picture of the work environment at Cato under Ed Crane’s leadership – suggesting that it is, at least according to them, hostile and degrading to women.

“It’s hardly the climate you would want your daughter working or interning in,” said one former Cato employee in an interview with Breitbart News. “Most of the scholars at Cato are fine, decent, and sincere people. But Ed Crane’s dismissive and degrading attitude toward women can make them feel more like meat than equals.”

“I think it’s pretty open knowledge inside of Cato that most attractive female professional staff members have been the target of unsolicited sexual advances by Ed Crane,” another former Cato employee told Breitbart News. Asked why such behavior was tolerated, the one-time Cato employee replied: “In a place with no formal system of redress there becomes a complacent attitude of ‘Oh, that’s just Ed.’ Or ‘He’s probably had too much to drink.’”

Contacted by email for comment, Director of Media Relations Chris Kennedy responded, "If anyone wants to cite any actual legal complaints ever made against Ed or other members of Cato's management, we'd respond to them. But we're not going to respond to baseless rumor and innuendo leveled by unnamed sources."

Certainly, these are stunning allegations (and similar allegations go way back). Cato is of such critical importance to the libertarian movement, that it is incumbent on its Board to full vet them. If accurate, they raise serious questions about how and why the behavior of Cato’s chief leader would be tolerated for so long by so many.

Part of the explanation, says one former Cato employee, is that, unlike other think tanks, “Cato has no real endowment”; its sizable operating budget is largely contingent on Crane’s ability to raise millions of dollars annually.

“Everyone’s paychecks hinge on Ed Crane’s ability to bring in the dollars,” explained on former Cato employee. “That means people tolerate behavior from Ed that Ed would never tolerate in others.”

The sense one gets from speaking to those closest to Cato’s culture is one of a leader with an authoritarian hold on power. As one former Cato staff member explained, “The gallows humor among Cato-ites holds that what Cato really stands for is this: ‘Crane And The Others.’”

***Note: In addition to and apart from these accusations about Ed Crane’s behavior, a recent blog post by Robert Wenzel of the Economic Policy Journal made mention of allegations of serious misconduct by a “top Cato official.” Lew Rockwell also commented on the allegations. Breitbart News cannot currently verify the accuracy of Mr. Wenzel’s allegations, or the identity of the “top Cato official” to which he refers.


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