Cause of Action to DOJ: Are Taxpayer Dollars Being Used to Lobby for Taxes and Legislation?


In a letter to the Department of Justice submitted on March 16, 2012, Cause of Action requests an investigation into a grant program through the CDC called Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) aimed at anti-tobacco and anti-obesity initiatives. Cause of Action investigators uncovered multiple instances where these grants may have actually been used for lobbying on tobacco and obesity legislation.

In October, 2011, CoA sent a letter to the Inspector General at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) requesting an investigation into the CPPW program. In February, CoA sent letters to 20 grant recipients citing potential violations of lobbying laws based on their reports of how the CPPW grant monies were either being used or were to be used. Since HHS has failed to respond to CoA’s request for investigation, we submitted a letter to the DOJ asking them to look into how these taxpayer dollars are actually being used.

See the letter here.



Department of Justice

FTJ to DOJ Re FOIA Lobbying Disclosure Act 8.30.2011

CoA Puts DOJ on the Spot in Lobbying Enforcement

 August 30: CoA demands lobbying compliance assurances; September 9: DOJ announces new compliance efforts.

On August 30, 2011, Cause of Action wrote to Keith Morgan, the Department of Justice official charged with enforcing the Lobbying Disclosure Act, stating “[w]hile significant progress has been made in implementing the provisions of the Act, we have serious concerns about the enforcement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (“LDA”).”

CoA reported that the U.S.Attorney’s  Office for the District of Columbia, which is charged with enforcing the LDA, receives thousands of referrals of potential LDA violators from Congress, yet the vast majority of these referrals remain pending, with no resolution. As it stands,135 referrals are still pending from 2007, when House and Senate officials referred 241possible LDA violations to the U.S.Attorney’s Office for follow-up action.

DOJ has now received referrals regarding 2,680 lobbyists ororganizations that have not filed required reports on their campaign contributions or other political spending. However, not one of these non-filers has been sent a non-compliance  letter by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Additionally, Senate officials have referred a cumulative total of 8,281 possible LDA violators to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

CoA demanded that DOJ provide all records pertaining to lobbyists or organizations that have not filed required reports on their campaign contributions or other political spending and requested records concerning DOJ’s enforcement efforts.

On September 9, 2011, the BNA reported “A Justice Department official said Sept. 9 that more aggressive action would be taken to achieve compliance with the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act[.]”

This official was DOJ’s Keith Morgan.

According to BNA, Morgan recently announced that his office will ramp up enforcement efforts and has made progress in an effort to create a database of potential LDA violators and to identify repeat offenders who appear to be ignoring the requirements of the law. Those identified are being contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and could be subject to fines.

BNA reported that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section currently has “about 50 pending investigations involving possible campaign finance violations or other public corruption charges. . . . DOJ’s Washington headquarters reviews all the cases and has become much more involved in litigating the matters in court.”  BNA referenced the DOJ’s current high-profile prosecution of John Edwards, the former Democratic senator and vice presidential candidate, on campaign finance charges.

Cause of Action has a dynamic and diverse legal staff whose wide range of experiences include congressional oversight and public interest litigation. CoA advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach. CoA employs public oversight as a tool to keep the federal government acting lawfully and to bring politicization and mismanagement to the public’s attention through:

• Litigation
• Freedom of Information Act Requests
• Ethics Complaints
• Internal Revenue Service Complaints
• Federal Election Commission Complaints
• Requests for Investigations