Fox News.com: ACORN Misused Federal Grant Funds, Report Says

Read the full story here. Fox News

“This report confirms that ACORN and its rebranded affiliates have used fiscal sponsorship in an illegal and abusive manner to launder taxpayer funds into its own coffers,” said Daniel Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonprofit government watchdog that has monitored the actions of ACORN over the years.”

Politico’s Morning Energy Report: CoA Files Amicus Brief re: EPA

Read the full story here. Politico

“The Institute for Liberty, Americans for Prosperity, Center for Rule of Law, Cause of Action and National Black Chamber of Commerce are also worried about the effect of EPA’s final utility MACT rule for mercury and air toxics, which is due out Dec. 16. In an amicus brief filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the groups say EPA needs another year to study the rule’s impacts on electric-grid reliability because the agency has rushed into a rulemaking without a clear understanding of how many power plants will close and what the effect will be on power generation.”

 

CoA Stands Up Against Government Regulation of Private Choices

Cause of Action has just filed a brief before the FDA on behalf of Trent Arsenault, a Bay Area man who has been ordered by the federal government to “cease manufacture” of sperm. Over the last six years, Mr. Arsenault has helped thirteen couples conceive by donating his gametes to them at no cost. Many of these couples would otherwise have been forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars at a sperm bank without any guarantee of results. Trent does not take any compensation for his services and donates simply out of his desire to help those in his community having trouble conceiving.

Despite this, the FDA last year classified Trent as a “firm” which is a “manufacturer of human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products.” As such, the FDA ordered Trent to cease “manufacture” of his gametes unless he complies with regulations that normally apply to sperm banks. Compliance with these regulations would cost tens of thousands of dollars and be practically impossible for Mr. Arsenault as he does not own, nor operate out of, a laboratory. Trent has asked for an opportunity to tell his side of the story at a hearing, but the government opposed his request.

Cause of Action has decided to represent Mr. Arsenault because we are outraged at the intrusion of the FDA into the private lives of Trent and the people he helps. The FDA admits that if Mr. Arsenault was a “sexually intimate partner” with the couples that he helps that he would be beyond their regulation, but they offer no definition of what that term means. The FDA should not be in the business of deciding who is, and is not, sexually intimate, especially when doing so interferes with private individuals’ ability to start a family.

Read Cause of Action’s Brief.


The Washington Examiner: Cause of Action: NLRB former Chairman and General Counsel engage in ex parte communications

Cause of Action:  NLRB former Chairman and General Counsel engage in ex parte communications

“Cause of Action, a government accountability nonprofit, has obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act request showing then-NLRB Chairwoman Wilma Liebman, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon and NLRB Public Affairs Director Nancy Cleeland coordinating the board’s response to its own decision to sue Boeing for opening a factory in the right to work state of South Carolina. . . Cause of Action has obtained at least four emails sent to both Solomon and Liebman explicitly about the Boeing litigation. There is also a fifth email about the Boeing litigation, sent from Liebman herself, to Cleeland and Solomon. All of these communications appear to violate NLRB’s own rules.

Cause of Action has asked NLRB’s inspector general to investigate the apparently illegal coordination by Liebman, Cleeland and Solomon on the Boeing suit. But Congress must do more.”

Cause of Action Investigates Department of Energy Grants

Cause of Action filed a Freedom of Information Act request today with the Department of Energy in an effort to learn how the Department awards grants. In its request, Cause of Action attorneys noted that since 2009 the DOE has committed over $36 billion in financing for loans or loan guarantees, and information recently learned about the Solyndra affair has raised concern over how those grants were awarded:

In addition to Solyndra, several other companies have received billions of dollars in loan guarantees from DOE to build renewable energy infrastructure. As with Solyndra, many individuals in key positions within these corporations have made political contributions to the President or the Democratic Party, raising the concern that these loan guarantees may have been granted through preferential treatment or undue influence – and therefore not to stimulate shovel-ready jobs.

Cause of Action believes the public has a right to understand how and why its tax-dollars are being spent.

Read the FOIA requests.

Image courtesy of Flickr user zackgrahamEE.

CoA Files Amicus Curiae Brief in EPA Case

Image source: Flickr user brandonwu

Asks Court to Extend EPA Rule-Making Deadline for MACT Utility Rule

Cause of Action, along with the Institute for Liberty and the Center for Rule of Law, filed a motion in Federal Court supporting the Utility Air Regulatory Group's motion to modify an EPA rulemaking timeline. Specifically, CoA seeks to participate in the EPA's “Utility MACT” rulemaking to bring to the Agency's attention recently released materials that cast doubt on its fundamental assumptions concerning Utility MACT's impact on reliable electric service a

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nd, those assumptions being no longer reliable, the complete absence of data or information supporting the Agency's approach of ignoring reliability. Particularly, EPA assumes that its Proposed Rule would not impair reliability and ended its analysis there. Yet a detailed preliminary assessment undertaken by the Office of Electric Reliability of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission demonstrates that Utility MACT is likely to cause far greater retirements of generating capacity than projected by EPA and pulls the legs out from under EPA's assumption of continued reliability.

According to a consent decree entered in this case, the EPA currently has until November 16, 2011 to promulgate final emissions standards, not nearly enough time to consider the new evidence the groups have brought forth. Thus, CoA and the other groups asked the court to extend that deadline in order for the EPA to take into account the new studies.

Image courtesy of Flickr user benchilada.

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CoA to National Mediation Board: Tell Us Who You Talked To

Cause of Action sent a Freedom of Information Act Request to the National Mediation Board asking for documents related to various labor unions’ involvement in recent Board rulemaking.  Specifically, CoA is concerned by the National Mediation Board’s recent decision to advance a rule which allows only a small minority of all eligible employees to determine union representation.  For over 75 years, the Board conducted union representation elections according to the principle that a union would be certified as the collective bargaining representative only if a majority of the eligible employees in the relevant craft or class voted in favor of union representation. This “Majority Rule” is stated directly in the text of the Railway Labor Act, which provides that “[t]he majority of any craft or class of employees shall have the right to determine who shall be the representative of the craft or class for the purposes of this chapter.  On May 11, 2010, the NMB issued a final rule, effective June 10, 2010, allowing a union to be certified as a firm’s collective bargaining representative based on a majority of votes cast, therefore abandoning the Majority Rule in favor of a Minority Rule.

CoA is particularly troubled by evidence tending to show that this change in the rule was the result of a predetermined effort to advance a partisan policy agenda.

Read the CoA FOIA Request.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user atache.