Archives for November 2012

Cause of Action Responds to U.S.Government’s Attempt to Dismiss Ralls Corp. v. Obama et al.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                       CONTACT:      

NOVEMBER 28, 2012                                           Mary Beth Hutchins, 615-337-3710

Cause of Action Responds to U.S. Government’s Attempt to Dismiss Ralls Corp. v. Obama, et al.

WASHINGTON – Cause of Action (COA), a government accountability group, responded today to oral arguments in the case Ralls Corp. v Obama, et al challenging a shut-down of a Chinese-owned wind farm project in Oregon.  CoA filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the American landowners and the American company Oregon Windfarms whose property and companies were a part of the Ralls Corp. wind farm project that was shut down by the federal government, specifically under the direction of both the President and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Amber Abbasi, Cause of Action’s Chief Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, said:

When the federal government ignores the Constitution and the President acts beyond his authority, America’s job creators and therefore the American people are the ones who suffer. This court must therefore hold that Ralls’s claims are properly subject to its review.

Cause of Action filed its amicus brief on November 12, 2012. The brief can be found here.

Cause of Action represents the American-owned green energy company Oregon Windfarms, which originally designed the “Butter Creek Projects”—a group of four wind farms that started development and were sold to Ralls Corporation before the government intruded. CFIUS, an agency created during the Cold War era to review the implications of foreign investments in the United States on our national interest, sought to undo the wind farms’ sale to Ralls and prohibit third parties from purchasing the project companies. Its efforts were followed by a presidential order asserting even broader authority over the sale. The halted deal not only harms Ralls, but it also discourages investment in the United States and threatens the rights of American property and business owners.

Of additional concern to Cause of Action is how the federal government is spending taxpayer dollars through CFIUS. Instead of focusing on credible national security threats, the government has decided to target a company which the FAA and the Navy have already determined does not pose a threat. Add that to the detriment brought to consumers who would have benefitted from a lower cost energy supply from these wind farm projects and it is clear that this is yet another example of federal government power exceeding its proper limitations with damaging effects.

About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses investigative, legal, and communications tools to educate the public on how government accountability and transparency protects taxpayer interests and economic opportunity. For more information, visit

To schedule an interview with Dan Epstein, Cause of Action’s Executive Director, or Amber Abbasi, Cause of Action’s Chief Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, contact Mary Beth Hutchins, or Briton Bennett,



Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act signed into law

At Cause of Action, we are always interested in whistleblower protection. In fact, the fight for government accountability depends on whistleblowers from within the government who are willing to step forward to hold our government accountable.

Today, President Obama signed into law the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), furthering protection for those who report government waste, fraud and abuse.

After many years spent in development, the WPEA was presented to the Senate and unanimously passed on November 14, 2012. Soon after, on November 21, President Obama waived the rescission of $11.5 million in funds for several department and agency inspectors generals so they could continue their long-term investigations. The waiver applies to the departments of Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, National Science Foundation and Small Business Administration. The waiver also applies to the Department of Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration.

The new law puts into effect many positive changes:

(1)    It increases protections for whistleblowing to Congress.

(2)    It increases agency responsibility to inform prospective whistleblowers of their rights.

(3)    It requires Inspector Generals to directly appoint assistant IGs for whistleblower protection and investigation purposes.

(4)    It specifically outlines the need to protect against censorship of data and research at federal agencies.


Read more about the WPEA here and listen to Executive Director, Dan Epstein, discuss it here.

Blow the Whistle here.

The Hill: When foreign investment and national security collide

When foreign investment and national security collide

by Dan Epstein

November 27, 2012

As part of the arms race between the United States and Russia that fueled the Cold War, Congress established the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) under the Defense Production Act of 1950. CFIUS’s purpose was to review transactions that could result in the control of a U.S. business by a foreign person to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States. CFIUS, the only committee of its kind in the world, is an artifact of Cold War-era fears about Soviet threats to America, but it is having the very real effect of reigning terror upon job creation in America.

CFIUS, like any taxpayer-funded institution under our constitution, has limited powers. CFIUS may only review certain “covered transactions” that could result in foreign control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the United States. It may not bar a covered transaction from taking place, it may not arbitrarily or capriciously make decisions without supporting evidence, and it may not engage in the unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process.
Yet CFIUS has done all of these things.

On June 28, 2012, Ralls Corporation, a Delaware wind turbine company, informed CFIUS of its intent to build power-generating windmills by acquiring and controlling the assets of four wind farm projects in Oregon (“Project Companies”). Prior to Ralls’s acquisition of the Project Companies the Federal Aviation Administration issued “Determinations of No Hazard” for each of the twenty planned turbines. But on July 25, 2012, CFIUS determined that because Ralls is owned by executives of China’s Sany Group, “there are national security risks to the United States that arise as a result of the Transaction,” and ordered the Project Companies to cease all construction and operations of these wind farms.

The Navy wrote to the Oregon Public Utility Commission on Ralls’ behalf, saying the placement of the wind turbines “may have negative security implications” but recommending that the requested approvals be issued. In the same letter, the Navy added that it “appreciat[ed]” Ralls’s “cooperation and consideration” in agreeing to move their wind farms. Does this sound like the activities of a company looking to threaten American national security interests?

On July 26, 2012, in an effort to address CFIUS’s concerns, Ralls informed CFIUS that it sought to sell the Project Companies, as several American buyers expressed interest. But on August 2, 2012, CFIUS amended its order, prohibiting Ralls from any further construction or operations on its property, mandating that it remove its belongings from the property, prohibiting access to its own property, and prohibiting Ralls from selling goods associated with the wind farms until all items are removed, the companies notify CFIUS, and CFIUS does not object.

On September 12, 2012, Ralls filed a complaint against CFIUS in federal district court in Washington, D.C. and filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against CFIUS’s order. Ralls argued that the authority to block the Project Companies’ transactions, if any, lies with the president, who, under the Defense Production Act may take action “to suspend or prohibit any covered transactions that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” and “shall not be subject to judicial review.” Sound Orwellian? On September 28, 2012, via Executive Order, President Barack Obama halted all of Ralls’ attempts broadly citing “credible” national security concerns. In other words, an unaccountable, unreviewable Committee has become President Obama’s latest political tool, this time at the sacrifice of job creation – even green energy jobs.

Obama’s logic is as follows: any company owned by two Chinese nationals is prima facie a national security risk. CFIUS claimed the wind-farm sites are all within or near restricted air space. But this argument seems dubious given the fact that wind turbines already operate in this area.

The Wall Street Journal described the move as politically calculated as “voters in the industrial Midwest, including Ohio and other battleground states . . . have lost millions of manufacturing jobs over the past decade.” But if anything, the Ralls transaction means creating U.S. jobs via foreign capital injection instead of outsourcing those jobs back to China. The most plausible explanation seems to be that anti-China resentment sells.

On October 1, 2012, Ralls amended its initial complaint to include President Obama as a defendant arguing that the order exceeds the president’s statutory authority. President Obama has not only shut down a job-creating, environmentally-friendly business deal in the name of politics, he has done so in a way that violates Constitutional due process and judicial review.

Cause of Action, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting government abuse, is going to court to challenge the president’s arbitrary abuse of power. CFIUS and the president must be held accountable for actions that limit economic growth and threaten free enterprise in the name of politics, or, worse, xenophobia.

Epstein is the executive director of government accountability group Cause of Action, based in Washington, D.C.


XP Technology Retains Cause of Action in DOE Cronyism Suit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                CONTACT:

NOVEMBER 23, 2012                                                                        Mary Beth Hutchins or Briton Bennett





WASHINGTON – Cause of Action, a government accountability organization, now represents San Francisco-based XP Technology in its November 14, 2012 lawsuit against the federal government concerning the U.S. Department of Energy’s denial of XP Technology’s loan guarantee application under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (AVTM) loan program.


XP Technology’s complaint, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, alleges that “corruption and negligence” pervaded DOE’s decision to award loan guarantees to Ford, Nissan, Tesla Motors, and Fisker Automotive for the development of electric vehicle technology.
“The Department of Energy has acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner at the expense of American small businesses that have sought to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil,” asserted Scott Douglas Redmond, XP’s lead investor.


About XP Technology:
In development for nearly a dozen years, with millions of dollars in resources already invested, XP Technology., is on a mission is to develop the safest, most affordable vehicle with the lowest total cost of operation (TCO) and the best power-to-weight ratio powered by alternative energy. The battery pack is capable of dramatically exceeding the range of any shipping electric vehicle with four passengers. However, it could reach 300 miles with the continuous and hot-swappable charge of an optional XP Auxiliary Power Unit.  For more information on XP Vehicles, please visit


About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses investigative, legal, and communications tools to educate the public on how government accountability and transparency protects taxpayer interests and economic opportunity. For more information, visit


All legal inquiries should be directed to Cause of Action’s Executive Director, Dan Epstein, at 202-400-2720. Media inquiries should be brought to the attention of Mary Beth Hutchins, or Briton Bennett,



Amber Abbasi: Questioning FDA Regulation of Private Sperm Donation, speech at Columbia Law School

Video: Questioning FDA Regulation of Private Sperm Donation



AP: Judge eyes challenge to Delaware Bloom Energy deal

Judge eyes challenge to Delaware Bloom Energy deal 

“”What we’re asking for is for the court to permit free competition,” said Amber Abassi, a lawyer for Cause of Action, a Washington D.C.-based legal advocacy group. The group is representing FuelCell Energy and Delmarva ratepayer John Nichols. Private attorneys hired by the state to represent Markell argued Wednesday that the suit should be dismissed because FuelCell has made no effort to conduct business in Delaware and thus cannot show that it has been harmed. David McBride, an attorney representing Markell, told Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke that it would be a “travesty” for the court to blow up the Bloom Energy deal with no assurance that FuelCell Energy would step in.”

Read the full story here.

Greenwire: Profile of Cause of Action, the watchdog group could be the “busiest advocacy group”

The most active nonprofit you’ve never heard of

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