I would like to make a few points in connection with your Ideas Industry column "Lobbyists Seen Lurking Behind Tank Funding" [Federal Page, Nov. 19]. First, wherever Steven Clemons may have had the experiences described in your report on his paper, it certainly was not at the Nixon Center.

Notwithstanding his identification as a Nixon Center "veteran," his tenure at the center was limited to a few months after our founding, and he had no meaningful experience related to the center's operations or programs.

More generally, the Nixon Center certainly has not been exposed to the calls or pressure from lobbyists that Clemons describes as if they were a part of his daily routine. The idea that companies could use a free evening of mass-produced hotel food and after-dinner speeches to influence government officials, members of Congress or congressional staffers is also a novel one. Few in Washington, or elsewhere, could be so cheaply bought.

Similarly, despite Clemons's claims, I suspect that few true think tanks would put their reputations -- which are their only real assets -- on the line by serving as mouthpieces for lobbyists. Any institution that did so would lose both its credibility and, as a result, any hypothetical utility in such a role.

-- Paul J. Saunders

The writer is director

of the Nixon Center.