Archives for 2012

Bloomberg News: Chicago Agency Overbilling U.S. Told to Change Mileage Claims

Read the full story here. Business Week

“Cause of Action, a Washington-based research organization, in a report last week suggested the federal government was slow to investigate “Chicago-style fraud” at the authority because Transportation Department General Counsel Robert Rivkin held the same post at CTA from 2001 to 2004 and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, was chairman of the agency’s board from 1995 to 2003.


The Cause of Action report cited a 2007 Illinois state audit that said Chicago’s transit system may have received as much as $5 million a year in extra U.S. funding for as long as 30 years. After its investigation, the FTA said the amount was closer to $700,000 to $800,000 a year….”

Press Release: FTA Confirms Overreporting by the CTA

FTA Confirms Overreporting by the CTA

Cause of Action’s Investigation Into Potential Fraud With Federal Grant Money Exposes CTA & the Department of Transportation


WASHINGTON – In the wake of Cause of Action’s investigation into potential fraud at the Chicago Transit Authority, new facts have emerged confirming not only overreporting by the CTA, but knowledge by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration of the overreporting.

FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff sent a letter to CTA on April 27, 2012 stating that FTA had “conducted an in-depth review regarding the way in which Vehicle Revenue Miles (VRM)” were reported. The conclusion of this review was that “CTA should revise its data for the 2011 Report Year to reflect the definition of ‘revenue service’.”

Cause of Action’s Executive Director Dan Epstein issued the following statement in response:

“FTA’s letter highlights two very important facts. First, CTA was, as Cause of Action suspected, violating the reporting manual used to calculate VRM, thereby improperly receiving federal grant money.

But secondly, FTA is revealing that it had knowledge of overreporting occurring, and by conducting a review of only 2011, it ignored the 2007 report presented by auditor Thomas Rubin that showed the same potential actions happening in fiscal year 2006.

It appears an explanation for why FTA limited its review to one year, and failed to disclose its findings to Cause of Action following our expedited FOIA request, is that there is clearly a politically motivated cover-up happening at the Department of Transportation.

Cause of Action’s revealing investigation into opaqueness and poor stewardship of tax dollars only further raises the spectre of corruption at the same agency Cause of Action revealed to have had two officials violate the Hatch Act.  Just as no punishment occured when Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act, no punishment will occur with a CTA that defrauded the American taxpayers. Cause of Action exists to fight this kind of corruption and show the American taxpayers exactly what is happening to their money in the hands of corrupt politicians.”

This revelation by the FTA raises a number of questions that Cause of Action views as critical to the public interest:

  1. Why did FTA not act on Thomas Rubin’s 2007 report of this exact behavior by the CTA?
  2. When did DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel decide to investigate the matter?
  3. Is there evidence to suggest that this same type of overreporting is happening at other transit authorities around the United States?
  4. Why hasn’t the FTA reported the CTA to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation in light of their overreporting and potential years of defrauding American taxpayers?
  5. How does the President explain the Chicago connections of Secretary LaHood, Robert Rivkin, Valerie Jarrett and himself in light of this misuse of taxpayer dollars?

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




Letter to CTA Confirms Overreporting of Mileage for Grant Money

As Bloomberg News reports, “The Chicago Transit Authority collected more federal aid than it should have after inflating mileage covered by its bus routes, the U.S. Transportation Department said.”

Confirming the investigation of Cause of Action released last week, the letter from the Federal Transit Administration found below, confirms that the CTA was overreporting its mileage and that DOT had knowledge of this.


FTA Letter to CTA

Final Administrative Appeal Letter to NPS

Final Administrative Appeal Letter to NPS

An update about Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Over the past few months, Cause of Action has been working to make sure the Lunnys, a family who runs Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC), are able to keep their oyster business open. With less than 45 days until the deadline for a decision, there are several updates on this important issue.

Recently, Cause of Action submitted a response to the National Park Service to have the information contained in their reports accurately reflect the situation at the Lunnys’ environmentally responsible, sustainable oyster farm in Point Reyes National Park.

The Lunnys’ struggle against the National Park Service has also caught the attention of the California state Fish and Game commission, who recently sent a letter of support for the Lunnys to the National Park Service.

On November 30, 2012 the Lunnys’ permit to lease land from The National Park Service will expire. Before that date, NPS is required to issue a final report assessing the scientific findings concerning DBOC’s effect on Drakes Bay. We hope that the NPS uses credible data when they make a decision that will affect the livelihood of not just the Lunnys, but their employees, and the community as well.


As of May 24, 2013, Cause of Action no longer represents Drakes Bay Oyster Company, the Lunny family, or Dr. Corey Goodman and will be withdrawing as counsel from the litigation.

Data Quality Act Facts

Fact Sheet on DQA Complaint concerning the National Park Service

  • After substantial inaccuracies were identified in two publications published by the National Park Service (“NPS”) regarding Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s (“DBOC”) alleged impact on the environment, thereby threatening the reissuance of their operating permits, Dr. Corey Goodman and DBOC owners Kevin and Nancy Lunny and submitted a Complaint on Aug. 7, 2012 to NPS requesting corrections based on the grounds the information was scientifically flawed.
  • Relevant publications:
    • (1) Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit (the “DEIS,” which purports to analyze the environmental impact of DBOC)
    •  (2) March 2012 Atkins North America, Final Report on Peer Review of the Science Used in the National Park Service’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit (the “Atkins Report,” which assessed portions of the DEIS)
    • (3) Sept. 2012 Scientific Review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit (the National Research Council’s “Scientific Review Report,” which reviewed the data and methods used in the DEIS and Atkins Report)
    • Since the Lunnys have a limited term permit allowing for the operation of DBOC, which will expire on Nov. 30, 2012, they requested an expedited correction to the errors in the DEIS and Atkins Report.
    • On Oct. 3, 2012 NPS responded to a Complaint filed by Cause of Action (CoA) on behalf of the Lunnys and Dr. Goodman.
    • On Oct. 16, 2012 CoA issued an administrative appeal letter to NPS rebutting their objections to our complaint.

Summary of new activity:

On Oct. 16, 2012, CoA submitted a letter to Margaret O’Dell at the National Park Service appealing the response from NPS on Oct. 3. Essentially, NPS continues to ignore the rules for how complaints should be handled and instead marches forward without regard for their false scientific data that could shut down a family business in the Bay area.

CoA argues that despite its claims to the contrary, NPS is statutorily obligated to consider the complaint, as it was submitted in accordance with the procedures prescribed by Director’s Order 11B. Under that order and the Information Quality Act, NPS is required to adhere to specified information-quality obligations. It has failed to do so and has inaccurately claimed that it possesses discretion over which proposed corrections it will address.

On November 30, 2012, the Lunny family faces the loss of their business due to the refusal of the NPS to correct the DEIS. Corrections based on accurate science would benefit DBOC, the Bay area, Drakes Estero, and ultimately, the Park Service itself.

110799462-Final-Administrative-Appeal-Letter-to-NPS (1)

WGN TV: CTA made millions by inflating mileage