Ed Crane (political activist)

Ed Crane
Edward Harrison Crane

(1944-08-15) August 15, 1944 (age 75)
NationalityUnited States
InstitutionCato Institute (1977–2012)
FieldEconomics, politics, social science, culture
School or
Libertarian economics
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
University of Southern California (MBA)
President of the Cato Institute
In office
1977 – October 1, 2012
3rd Chair of the Libertarian National Committee
In office
Preceded bySusan Nolan
Succeeded byDavid Bergland
2nd Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee
In office
Preceded bySusan Nolan
InfluencesLudwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman

Edward Harrison Crane (born August 15, 1944) is an American libertarian and co-founder of the Cato Institute. He served as its president until October 1, 2012.[1]

In the 1970s, he was one of the most active leaders within the Libertarian Party.[2] He directed the Party as its National Chair from 1974 to 1977,[3] worked on John Hospers's Presidential bid and managed Ed Clark's 1978 campaign for Governor of California. In 1980, Crane served as Communications Director to the Libertarian Party Presidential ticket of Clark and Vice Presidential candidate David Koch.[4] In 2012, Ed Crane stepped down from Cato's board.

Crane has been a member of the board of various political organizations, including Americans for Limited Government, a group that assists grassroots efforts throughout the country, and the Center for Competitive Politics. Crane is also a member of the Mont Pelerin Society.

Tenure at Cato Institute[edit]

In 1977, with the funding of Charles Koch and the assistance of Murray Rothbard, Crane established the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank.

While at Cato, Crane grew the organization: from a staff of 10 and a budget of $800,000 when it first opened in San Francisco, to a staff of 127 and a $21 million budget in a newly renovated building in Washington, DC.[5] He retired from Cato in 2012.[6] In 2013 Crane launched Purple PAC, a super-PAC that supports candidates and causes consistent with the libertarian philosophy.[7]

In 2018, several former Cato employees alleged longtime sexual harassment by Crane, and Politico reported that he settled one such claim in 2012. Crane denied the allegations.[8]

Political views[edit]

Crane is politically libertarian.[9] To him, the core principles of libertarianism are personal liberty, free markets and limited government.[10]

He was supportive of then-presidential candidate Ron Paul on issues such as cutting spending, lowering taxes, support for a non-interventionist foreign policy, protecting civil liberties and promoting Austrian economics. "Support for dynamic market capitalism (as opposed to crony capitalism), social tolerance, and a healthy skepticism of foreign military adventurism is a combination of views held by a plurality of Americans," he states in his column. "It is why the 21st century is likely to be a libertarian century. It is why the focus should be on Ron Paul's philosophy and his policy proposals in 2012."[11]

In 2016 he supported presidential candidate Rand Paul. It was reported that Crane had stopped raising money for the Purple PAC that was supporting Rand; but Crane stated that the PAC was still operating and it wasn't shutting down.[12] He stated, "I'm still 'standing with Rand,' as they say, and there's no one else I can think of supporting."[13]


  1. ^ "Cato Institute Welcomes New CEO, Announces Changes to Board". Cato Institute.
  2. ^ Weigel, David. "Ed Crane steps down to end the Koch brothers' attempted coup at Cato, and libertarians cheer". Slate.com. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  3. ^ Morin, Richard (May 9, 2002). "Free Radical; Libertarian—and Contrarian—Ed Crane Has Run the Cato Institute for 25 Years. His Way". Washington Post. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  4. ^ Jackovich, Karen G. (September 22, 1980). "Ed Clark Is the Libertarian Party's Headstrong Candidate for the White House". People. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  5. ^ Staff Editorial (October 23, 2012). "Ed Crane's Freedom Legacy". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  6. ^ In 2012, a shareholder dispute arose between Crane and Charles and David Koch. Crane accused the Kochs of trying to take control of the organization. The Kochs contended that the shares of deceased shareholder William Niskanen should have been offered to the Institute first, and not passed to his widow. Crane later said that he spoke to New Yorker reporter Jane Meyer that he was a source on her article condemning the Koch brothers.Weigel, David (March 22, 2012). ""Who the Hell is Going to Take a Think Tank Seriously If It's Controlled by Billionaire Oil Guys?" Cato's President Speaks". Slate. Retrieved December 10, 2012. As part of the dispute settlement, the Cato shareholder agreement was dissolved and Crane agreed to retire. Vogel, Kenneth P. (June 26, 1980). "Cato, Koch brothers settle ownership fight". Politico. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  7. ^ http://purplepac.org/about/
  8. ^ "Former Cato employees describe years of harassment". POLITICO. 8 February 2018. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  9. ^ https://www.haas.berkeley.edu/groups/pubs/calbusiness/winter2004/alumni4.html
  10. ^ https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/free-radical-libertarian-contrarian-ed-crane-has-run-cato-institute-25-years-way
  11. ^ https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-ron-paul-matters
  12. ^ https://reason.com/blog/2015/09/29/politico-overstates-his-dropping-out-ins
  13. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/09/29/pro-rand-paul-pac-isnt-shutting-down-just-asking-paul-to-be-more-libertarian/

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Susan Nolan
Chair of the Libertarian National Committee
1974 – 1977
Succeeded by
David Bergland