Archives for March 2012

Dan Epstein on KMOX: Why we’re suing the White House over Administrative Earmarks

Dan Epstein – KMOX – St. Louis, MO, March 15, 2012

Dan Epstein explains why Cause of Action is suing the White House over the issue of administrative earmarks.

Dan Epstein in Philadelphia Inquirer: Is federal money being misused?

Read the full story here.

“Dan Epstein writes about the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant program that potentially issued federal grants that were used to lobby for higher taxes.

“Since March 2010, $230 million in federal grant money has been given to 30 states under the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative. Nearly $400 million more has been dedicated to the initiative for fiscal 2012. The grants were designed to educate the public on the hazards of tobacco use and obesity.

Instead of using the grant money to teach and inform citizens about those risks, though, some state and local governments may have wrongly spent it on lobbying, using federal tax dollars to influence policymakers and promote legislation and new taxes, according to an investigation by Cause of Action.”


Washington Free Beacon: Watchdog Group Finds Possible Examples of Insider Trading Among Congressional Staff

Read the full story here. Washington Free Beacon

“The Free Beacon reports on CoA’s letter to the House and Senate Ethics Committees regarding potential insider trading by Congressional staffers.

“A watchdog group is taking lawmakers and their underlings to task for insider trading.

Cause of Action, a nonpartisan transparency group, is demanding an investigation into allegations that congressional staffers have used legislative information to make lucrative stock investments.

‘There was a lot of focus on the members of Congress,’ said Mary Beth Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Cause of Action. ‘Our concern is that there is potential for staffers, as well as the members.’

Insider trading moved from Wall Street to Capitol Hill following the publication of Peter Schweizer’s Throw Them All Out, which documented numerous instances of congressmen and senators making suspicious financial transactions. The revelation led to an ethics investigation into the finances of Rep. Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.).

What many in the public do not realize, Hutchins said, is that the problem extends beyond elected officials.

‘We think that the taxpayers have the right to know that their tax dollars are being used properly,’ Hutchins said. ‘We thought it was important to look back and show the public what has happened in the past—what these staffers have done.’

The group sent a letter, which cited a Wall Street Journal study that found 72 suspect government employees, to ethics committees in both branches of Congress and both parties.

A Cause of Action review of financial disclosure forms found two staffers on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural resources who traded energy stocks and a senior staffer at the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, who traded in tobacco.”


CoA Asks House & Senate Ethics to Investigate Staffer Insider Trading

On February 14, 2012, Cause of Action submitted a letter to both the House and Senate Ethics Committees requesting an investigation into Congressional staff actions that might be deemed insider trading.

You can see the letter here.


Dan Epstein on Does it take a lawsuit for the White House to be transparent?

Read the full story here. Fox News

“Dan Epstein writes on today, “On his very first day in the White House, the president remarked “transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” So when Cause of Action asked the Office of Management and Budget(OMB) to release documents that might indicate some coordination between federal agencies and members of Congress on administrative earmarks, in addition to concerns that grant dollars were not being doled out competitively, there should have been no objection.

But the OMB has failed to release these documents. So Cause of Action is taking the White House to court, because taxpayers deserve to know if federal agencies are working behind the scenes with members of Congress to create pet projects with their tax dollars. In an era where transparency is not just touted, but promised, it is incredibly disappointing to be faced with an administration that refuses to cooperate.”

CoA’s Statement for the Record in FOIA Hearing before House Oversight Committee

Cause of Action submitted a statement for the record as part of a Congressional hearing on March 21, 2012 on FOIA technology. In an effort to educate the public and Congress on CoA’s experiences with FOIA requests and the problems with the current system of filing and receiving responses through the federal government, CoA offered the following statement: CoA Statement for the Record 3 19 2012

Human Events: Justice Department asked to investigate abuse of stimulus funds for lobbying

Read the full story here.

“Cause of Action, a non-profit government accountability watchdog group, wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder and asked him to investigate the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant program in depth, because “it appears that many grantees used grant dollars to lobby state and local officials for the creation of new taxes and other legislation.”

Contrary to dismissive statements made by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, this is against the law. Sebelius asserted that it’s only illegal when federal grant money is used to lobby the federal government, but in fact, it is illegal for such funds “to be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner… [a] jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law ratification, policy, or appropriation.”

Cause of Action gave the Attorney General a few examples of clear violations to get him started….”