Attorneys and Staff

James Valvo

Executive Director

James Valvo is Executive Director of Cause of Action Institute, where he has worked since 2013.

His expertise is in administrative law and government transparency. He was is a member of the 2016-2018 FOIA Advisory Committee at the National Archives representing the interests of the nonprofit requester community.

Prior to joining Cause of Action Institute, Mr. Valvo was the Director of Policy for Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation. In that role, he led a national policy team and advised more than 25 state chapters to educate and advocate for economic freedom.

Mr. Valvo graduated cum laude from American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science at American University as well, graduating summa cum laude with honors. He is the 2008 Harry S. Truman Scholar.

Mr. Valvo is a member of the Virginia and District of Columbia Bars, and is admitted to practice in several federal courts.

Lee A. Steven

Assistant Vice President

Lee oversees and manages both litigation and investigation matters for Cause of Action Institute. He has particular experience with the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act. Before joining Cause of Action Institute at the beginning of 2015, Lee spent many years in private practice with the international arbitration group of White & Case LLP in Washington, D.C. He represented both investor and State clients in international disputes across a broad range of industry sectors and advised sovereign clients, international organizations, and private parties on matters of public international law, international and cross-border dispute resolution, and bilateral investment treaties. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law (1998) and Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois (1985). In between college and law school, Lee also earned an M.A. in linguistics (University of Texas at Arlington, 1991).

Eric Bolinder

Counsel

Eric focuses his practice on administrative law, including litigation in both federal district and appellate courts. He also engages in strategic oversight of the Executive Branch through investigations, FOIA litigation, and other accountability measures.

During law school, Eric clerked for Senator Chuck Grassley’s Judiciary Committee staff, vetting nominees to the federal judiciary. Prior to joining the Cause of Action Institute, he worked as a Law Fellow with Senator Mike Lee’s Judiciary Committee staff.

Eric grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and is an avid sports fan. He spends much of his free time volunteering with his church, where he teaches classes on Christian Theology and Apologetics.

EDUCATION

J.D. Georgetown University Law Center, 2012
B.A. James Madison University, 2008

ADMISSIONS

District of Columbia Bar
Virginia State Bar
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Ryan Mulvey

Counsel

Ryan P. Mulvey has worked at the Cause of Action Institute since May 2013. His practice touches on various aspects of legal investigation and public oversight, as well as advocacy in the areas of administrative law and public access law. Ryan was graduated from the University of San Diego (2010) with a honors degree in history and political science. He earned his MA in Philosophy and JD from Boston University (2013). While a law student, Ryan completed internships at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, as well as the Office of the General Counsel of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. He served as Executive Editor for Notes and Comments at the Review of Banking & Financial Law. Prior to CoA Institute, Ryan worked as a research assistant for the second revised edition of the Heritage Foundation’s Heritage Guide to the Constitution (2014). He is admitted to the practice of law in New York State and the District of Columbia.

Michael Pepson

Special Counsel for Administrative Law

Mike Pepson is a Counsel at Cause of Action Institute. He has been involved in complex civil and criminal litigation in federal district and appellate courts and administrative litigation before federal agencies in a variety of matters, including statutory and constitutional challenges to federal regulations and agency decisions and Section 1983 challenges to state statutes.

Prior to joining Cause of Action Institute, he received his LL.M. from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Before then, he worked at a small criminal defense firm. He earned his J.D., cum laude, from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, where he was the Managing Editor of the Journal of Law, Philosophy & Culture, and B.A., cum laude, from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland.

He has also authored or coauthored articles on constitutional and transparency issues: Gmail.gov: When Politics Gets Personal, Does the Public Have a Right to Know?, ENGAGE, Vol. 13, Issue 2 (July 2012); Lego v. Twomey: The Improbable Relationship Between an Obscure Supreme Court Decision and Wrongful Convictions, 47 AM. CRIM. L. REV. 1185 (2010); Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right: Federal Death Eligibility Determinations and Judicial Trifurcations, 43 AKRON L. REV. 1 (2010); and Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Philosophical Perspective, 2 J.L. PHIL. & CULTURE 239 (2008). His work has been cited in the Harvard Law Review, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and members of Congress, and in Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit briefs.

Admitted only in Maryland. Not admitted in D.C. Practice limited to cases in federal court and proceedings before federal agencies pursuant to D.C. Rule 49(c).

Kevin Schmidt

Director of Investigations

Kevin Schmidt is Director of Investigations at Cause of Action Institute. He focuses on cronyism and corporate welfare, government spending, and trade. He is also a co-founder and contributor to FOIA Advisor, a forum designed to help the public learn more about the federal Freedom of Information Act. Kevin is a frequent FOIA requester with more than 6 years’ experience requesting public records from federal, state, and local governments. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Post, Washington Times, and Washington Examiner.

Kevin graduated from Kennesaw State University with a BS in political science in 2010, and later received an MA in political science from the University of Georgia in 2012. Prior to rejoining Cause of Action Institute in 2018, he worked as Director of Research for boutique public relations firm CounterPoint Strategies, where he provided crisis solutions and reputation defense to leading private equity firms, Dow 30 companies, private industrial firms, and prominent public figures. Kevin first joined Cause of Action Institute in 2012 to 2015 as Investigative Analyst and Social Media and Web Editor.

Kevin grew up in Marietta, Georgia and spends his free time playing softball, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball. He lives in Arlington with his wife and son.

Thomas Kimbrell

Research Analyst

Thomas Kimbrell joined Cause of Action Institute in 2017 as a Research Fellow. Born and raised in North Georgia, Thomas earned a Bachelor of Arts from California State University, Bakersfield before completing a M.A. in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Georgia. After graduating, Thomas pursued an entrepreneurial opportunity as the Operations Manager for a start-up company. Previously, Thomas worked as the Office Manager at a law firm in San Diego and as Department Lead at another firm in Atlanta.