Cause of Action Files Data Quality Complaint Against National Park Service


Faulty, Inaccurate, and Misleading Information Being Used to Shut Down California Family Business


WASHINGTON – Cause of Action, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting federal overreach, today filed a Data Quality Act complaint before the National Park Service for its intentional use of inaccurate, nontransparent, and deliberately misleading information in an attempt to deny a renewable permit to a California family business for use of national park territory.


When Kevin and Nancy Lunny’s permit, which allows their family business, Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC), to farm oysters in the Point Reyes National Seashore, expires in November, over two dozen Californians will lose their jobs, and DBOC, which has been operating for many years, will be forced to shut down, thereby cutting off a substantial amount of the Bay Area’s commercial oyster supply.


“The National Park Service should not be allowed to get away with using bad data to justify closing a small business,” said Amber Abbasi, chief regulatory counsel at Cause of Action. “The evidence clearly shows how NPS, despite being called out by another federal agency and a credible member of the National Academy of Sciences, is using junk science to bully a family business into shutting down. We’ve sent a complaint to the NPS urging them to adhere to their own information-quality standards for the use of scientific information and correct the Final Environmental Impact Statement. NPS needs to make clear that a neutral scientific analysis reveals that DBOC does not adversely impact the environment in Drakes Estero.”


Cause of Action filed the Data Quality Act Complaint with the National Park Service (NPS) on behalf of the Lunnys as well as National Academy of Sciences member and former Evan Rauch Chair of Neurobiology at the University of California Dr. Corey Goodman, who found substantial inaccuracies in the National Park Service, Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit (DEIS) and the March 2012 Atkins Peer Review Report put out by NPS.


Among the examples of inaccurate data NPS used against DBOC are the following:


NPS Claim: DBOC Causes a “Major Impact” to Soundscape.

Facts: NPS never took on-site measurements of noise generated by DBOC’s equipment. Instead, the DEIS used data from an obscure 1995 study, claiming this data was “representative” of noise generated by DBOC’s equipment in 2012.

  • DBOC uses a 20 horsepower (HP) and a 40 HP oyster boat.
  • But NPS cited fast high-horsepower racing and police patrol boats and 70 HP-plus jet skis operating at full throttle off of the New Jersey coast.

NPS Claim: DBOC Causes an “Adverse Impact” to Harbor Seals, Birds and Bird Habitat, or Visitor Experience and Recreation.


  • NPS ignores its own 281,000 time- and date-stamped photographs taken over a three-year period, none of which indicate that DBOC has an impact on Drakes Estero’s harbor seal colony.
  • NPS does not discuss highly probative, credible data—including on-site sound recordings captured by a sophisticated government microphone; NPS photographs, video recordings, and detailed logs; and GPS data—that contradict factual statements, data, and analysis in the DEIS.


Additionally, at least one other federal agency has found that the NPS has misused science to advance the public policy goals of certain NPS employees:

  • NPS’s improper treatment of those photographs was the subject of an investigation by the Department of the Interior that resulted in a finding of “administrative misconduct.”


Cause of Action Exposes OGE’s Failure to Act in GSA Spending Scandal

  Cause of Action Exposes OGE’s Failure to Act in GSA Spending Scandal

Watchdog Organization Calls on White House to Evaluate Careless Investigation and Lack of Oversight

WASHINGTON – Cause of Action released an investigative memorandum today detailing how the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) failed to detect ethics abuses by the General Services Administration (GSA), now infamous for the 2010 Western Regional Conference in Las Vegas that cost taxpayers $822,751.


The memorandum, The Office of Government Ethics Failed to Prevent Scandal at the General Services Administration, discloses years of mismanagement at OGE and waste at GSA that went unchecked until now.


“The enormous waste of taxpayer dollars by GSA over the last several years could have been prevented had GSA IG David Miller had the authority to investigate ethics abuses instead of the OGE maintaining that authority and simply ignoring its duties,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action (CoA). “Warning signs presented to OGE officials were ignored, and an OGE investigation bafflingly found GSA to be in compliance with ethics rules in 2010 during the time GSA employees were engaged in conflicts of interest and wasteful spending that violate both the letter and spirit of the Standards of Official Conduct.”


In addition to highlighting the failures of the OGE investigation, the memorandum also highlights several key gaps in the administration of the ethics program at the GSA.


“Quite obviously the GSA was running amuck with taxpayer dollars, and yet no one at the GSA seemed concerned. Perhaps this is because the person who should have been sounding the alarm—the Designated Agency Ethics Officer—didn’t exist; in fact, that position within the GSA sat vacant for at least four years,” said Epstein.


The memorandum is based upon the findings from CoA’s April 19, 2012, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to OGE asking for “all documents referring or relating to any Office of Government Ethics investigation into or determination made regarding the GSA’s compliance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch between January 1, 2009 and the present.”


Some of the key findings include:

  • In November 2010, one month after the Western Regional Conference, OGE reported to GSA Inspector General Brian Miller, that “GSA’s ethics program appears to be effectively administered and in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies”.  In fact, OGE considered GSA to have “model practices” in place.


  • OGE had both specific and prior knowledge that significant ethics risks existed at the GSA. GSA failed to fill a Designated Agency Ethics Officer (DAEO) position from 2007 to at least 2010. According to The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, all agencies are required to have a DAEO to supply ethics advice to employees. GSA has eleven regional offices with no full-time ethics officials.


  • According to documents produced by OGE, GSA’s ethics program is principally administered by eleven regional ethics offices. Yet OGE reviewed only five of GSA’s eleven regional offices for compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.


  • OGE lacks the oversight and accountability of an Inspector General. Any mismanagement or fraud within the Office of Government Ethics is subject to review only by OGE itself. OGE missed allegations of waste, fraud and mismanagement by GSA that occurred before and during OGE’s investigation of GSA. GSA’s ethics abuses were investigated and later documented by its own IG, not the OGE.


“In response to our findings we are sending a letter to the White House calling for the President to consider the cost to taxpayers involved in keeping the OGE as opposed to strengthening the roles of sitting Inspectors General,” continued Epstein.

The letter, addressed to President Obama, reads in part, “Given your commitment to ethics and transparency in government, we recommend that you have the Office of Management and Budget consider whether the OGE should be abolished and its authority transferred to the Inspectors General, who, as is the case with GSA IG Brian Miller, have the authority to address issues of waste, fraud, and mismanagement in the Federal Government.”


The full memorandum and letter to White House can be viewed here.




Cause of Action Sues FDA For Overreach Into Private Lives



FDA prohibits a form of artificial insemination, attempts to define relationships

WASHINGTON – Cause of Action, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court of Northern California on behalf of a Bay-Area woman whose plans to start a family have been blocked by overregulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Citing FDA regulations on sperm donation, Cause of Action states that the plaintiff’s ability to become pregnant through the means of her choice has been directly affected. Cause of Action argues that the right to procreate is fundamental and one that cannot be regulated by a government agency.

“We don’t think the FDA’s intentions are bad—they are trying to protect the public from communicable diseases—but this is literally stepping between two people who have agreed to have a child; the FDA should not regulate that,” said Cause of Action’s Chief Counsel for Regulatory Affairs Amber Abbasi.

Abbasi explains in Cause of Action’s complaint that the plaintiff wants to conceive a child by means of artificial insemination without a medical intermediary such as a donor bank, but is prohibited from doing so by FDA regulations.

Federal regulations set standards for manufacturing and distributing human cells, tissues, and tissue-based products, but they treat noncommercial, individual actors the same as commercial establishments, making any individual a potential human cells, tissue, and tissue-based product producer. Once an individual is labeled as a manufacturer, he is subject to the same regulatory standards as sperm banks. The FDA does exempt people engaged in sexually intimate relationships from the standard, but it is with the government’s attempt to define “relationship” that Abbasi and Cause of Action take the most issue.

“Essentially, the FDA is trying to define a personal relationship and regulate individuals’ intimate decisions,” said Abbasi. “These actions grossly exceed the reach of the FDA’s regulatory authority. If unchecked, it could set a dangerous precedent for the future.”

The lawsuit asks the federal district court to declare the FDA’s regulatory overreach unconstitutional, which will allow the plaintiff to start a family as she desires.

“This case really highlights how arbitrary regulations can take away freedom,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action. “Cause of Action is committed to exposing instances like these where the government is threatening freedom with rogue regulations.”

About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that uses public advocacy and legal reform tools to ensure greater transparency in government, protect taxpayer interests and promote economic freedom. For more information, visit

To schedule an interview with Amber Abbasi, Cause of Action’s Chief Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, contact Mary Beth Hutchins or Briton Bennett at 202-507-5880.


Cause of Action Sues Delaware Governor Markell And Public Service Commission To Stop Cronyism






Illegal Scheme Forces Ratepayers to Pick Up Tab for $133 Million Tariff-Subsidy


WASHINGTON – Government accountability group Cause of Action (CoA) filed suit today in federal court to challenge Delaware’s sweetheart deal with Bloom Energy, Inc. (Bloom). Governor Jack Markell and the members of the Delaware Public Service Commission are unconstitutionally discriminating against Bloom’s competitors and taxing a segment of Delaware residents to subsidize the crony company.

The suit is brought on behalf of individual plaintiff John Nichols, one of the Delaware ratepayers subject to a special tariff-subsidy created to pay for the deal, and a fuel cell manufacturer whose competitive place in the energy market has been thwarted by the state of Delaware’s scheme to prop up Bloom.

“Delaware has unconstitutionally undermined competitive markets to subsidize one favored company and forced a specific group of Delaware residents to pick up the tab,” said Amber Abbasi, CoA’s Chief Counsel for Regulatory Affairs. “Cause of Action is exposing this burden on taxpayers and businesses and is holding the Governor and the Public Service Commission accountable for violating the Commerce Clause and the rights of the people of Delaware.”

In late 2011, the Delaware Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act (REPSA) was modified solely to accommodate the state’s deal with Bloom. In return for Bloom’s promise to construct a manufacturing facility in Delaware, the state established a system of discriminatory eligibility requirements, subsidies, and energy-portfolio-standards multipliers that benefit Bloom. These requirements deny out-of-state companies equal competitive footing and increase costs for Delmarva ratepayers who might otherwise benefit from the competitive interstate market. According to a report by the Delaware Public Service Commission, the cost through tariffs to ratepayers will amount to $133 million.

“There’s no rational basis for forcing Nichols and other Delmarva ratepayers to fund Bloom Energy, while the rest of the state looks on.” stated Dan Epstein, Executive Director of CoA. “Governor Markell and the Public Service Commission are discriminating against competitive businesses in other states to prop up their cronies at Bloom, in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, and they must be forced to answer for their actions.”

In addition to filing suit against the Governor andthe members of the Delaware Public Service Commission, Cause of Action also filed two Freedom of Information Act requests regarding public comments submitted during the formation of the Bloom tariff and economic impact studies that were submitted in support of the tariff.

The complaint can be found here.

About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that uses public advocacy and legal reform tools to ensure greater transparency in government, protect taxpayer interests and promote economic freedom. For more information, visit

Cause of Action Demands Investigation of IRS’s Failure to Address Lobbying Violations



Lack of oversight of stealth lobbying uncovered by Cause of Action

WASHINGTON – Following an investigation into the oversight of lobbying disclosures, Cause of Action (CoA) uncovered that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) fails to monitor activities that could violate tax-exempt statuses, prompting CoA to send a request for investigation to the Treasury Department Inspector General concerning the IRS’s lack of action.

On March 22, 2012, Cause of Action wrote to Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of the IRS, to inquire about the IRS’s monitoring of tax-exempt organizations that house lobbying coalitions. These coalitions, as has been revealed in numerous media outlets over the past several years, dodge the Lobbying Disclosure Act by existing as loosely organized groups which are not incorporated under the law.  Concerned that lobbying coalitions are exercising political influence without paying taxes under the Internal Revenue Code, CoA sought to ensure that lobbying entities are paying taxes and are in compliance with IRS regulations.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request Cause of Action submitted, on May 14, 2012, the IRS responded that it was unable to locate any documents relating to the tax-exempt status of unincorporated coalitions residing at tax-exempt corporations, their fiscal sponsors, or any investigations by the IRS into these organizations.

“The inability of the IRS to produce any documents on oversight or investigation into stealth or coalition lobbying points to a gross lack of accountability by the federal government,” stated Dan Epstein, Executive Director of Cause of Action. “The burden now lies upon the Treasury Department’s investigators to examine why the IRS has turned a blind eye to numerous coalitions that have the potential to lobby with tax-exempt dollars, which is a clear violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.”

On June 8, 2012, CoA sent a request for investigation letter to J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) which states that “the IRS has failed to require lobbying coalitions to report their activities and the IRS has failed to conduct oversight over tax-exempt corporations that sponsor coalition lobbying without disclosing those activities. Moreover, the IRS, despite concerns by Congress and the media, has failed to conduct any investigations of lobbying coalition activities that may be inconsistent with the Internal Revenue Code.  As a result, we strongly request that you immediately investigate these matters.”

At the time of this release, CoA has not received a response from TIGTA concerning the request for investigation.

About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that uses public advocacy and legal reform tools to ensure greater transparency in government, protect taxpayer interests and promote economic freedom. For more information, visit



CoA Challenges Dept. of Energy In Lawsuit Over Burdensome Rulemaking Decision

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Media Advisory: Whistleblower Conference – Dan Epstein Joins Panel Discussion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         CONTACT:

Friday, May 18, 2012                                                  Mary Beth Hutchins,  202-507-5887




WHAT: A panel discussion on issues affecting whistleblowers as part of the annual Whistleblower Summit: Civil & Human Rights Conference.

WHEN:       Monday, May 21, 2012,  12:30pm—1:30pm ET

 WHO: Dan Epstein, executive director, Cause of Action will offer insight into the best litigation options for whistleblowers under current law. Cause of Action is a non-partisan organization that uses public advocacy and legal reform tools to ensure greater transparency in government, protect taxpayer interests and promote economic freedom. He will be joining other panel experts from various nonprofits and NGO’s.

 WHERE:    Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Room

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


MORE INFORMATION: The Summit is hosted by Make it Safe Coalition (MISC), an assortment of various public interest/advocacy groups including the Government Accountability Project, the International Association of Whistleblowers, the American Federation of Government Employees, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the Project On Government Oversight, the No FEAR Coalition, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Voices for Corporate Responsibility, and International Brotherhood of Teamsters; which focus on significant areas of public concern and individual rights, such as First Amendment, federal workforce, medical safety, national security, judicial reform, etc. See for more information on the conference.