New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Most Bundling Information Remains Undisclosed

After the Federal Election Commission (FEC) formulated a rule on reporting campaign contributions bundled by lobbyists, many were concerned that it was too narrow and would not quite capture very much information. Now, we see those points were not misguided. The situations under which a member of Congress is legally required to disclose a lobbyist's fundraising are limited.

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White House "Hopes" Agencies Do Not Appoint Lobbyists to Advisory Committees

The White House has announced that federally registered lobbyists can not be appointed to agency advisory boards and commissions. These boards and commissions advise the federal government on policy. The White House blog post states; "Keeping these advisory boards free of individuals who currently are registered federal lobbyists represents a dramatic change in the way business is done in Washington.

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Administration Discloses Ethics Waivers Granted by Federal Agencies

In a blog post, the White House announced the administration has now consolidated and released ten ethics waivers granted by federal agencies. The waivers made the appointees exempt from conflict of interest and revolving door restrictions set forth in the President's Executive Order.

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White House to Voluntarily Release Visitor Logs

Today, the Obama administration made an important advance in executive branch transparency by agreeing to publish the White House visitor logs.  Norm Eisen wrote on the White House blog that, “Each month, records of visitors from the previous 90-120 days will be made available online.”  The White House agreed to this measure as part of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).  As part of this settlement, the Obama administration will also turn over some visitor logs belonging to the Bush administration.

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As Predicted, Agencies Reporting Relatively Few Meetings with Lobbyists

Despite President Obama's order that officials have to disclose their contacts with registered lobbyists that try to influence Recovery Act funding, the government continues to capture very little information. The Associate Press reports that "few such communications have been reported even though lobbyists say they are busier than ever with the multibillion-dollar stimulus.

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TARP Recipients' PACs and Lobbyists Donated $6 Million and Hosted 70 Fundraisers for Members

A new report by Public Citizen says that representatives of the banks that received the most money from the federal bailout have spent millions of dollars in campaign donations to Members of Congress. The study was based on the 10 banks that received the most funds under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and of five trade associations. Public Citizen analyzed fundraiser invitations collected by the Sunlight Foundation and campaign contribution disclosures.

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Bonner & Associates Update

A total of nine nonprofits' names have been used by the lobbying firm Bonner & Associates in letters falsely advocating opposition to climate change legislation. As an update to this controversy, investigators have recently found more letters sent to members of Congress. The Washington Post has copies of the letters.

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Sunlight Foundation & ProPublica Release Foreign Lobbying Influence Tracker

In 2008, K Street received $86 million from foreign sources to pursue their interests with representatives of the American people.  While states and populations abroad certainly have legitimate interests in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, the origins of much of that money are still largely shrouded in secrecy.  The data, until now, has been difficult for most Americans to access.  As a result, the Sunlight Foundation and ProPublica joined together to track which foreign governments and corporations are lobbying for representation in the U.S. Congress.

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Two More Ethics Waivers

Two more ethics waivers have been issued to White House associate counsels, permitting Chris Weideman and Jonathan Kravis to continue working on issues involving former President George W. Bush. A White House blog post announced that "authorization is needed because President Bush's counsel this summer joined a firm at which the two Associate Counsels formerly worked.

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Forged Letter Scandal Highlights Need for Greater Disclosure

In June, Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) received a letter that was supposedly authored by Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit group in his district. The letter urged him to oppose the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill designed to combat climate change. Perriello's office also received similar letters on letterhead from the local NAACP chapter. These letters turned out to be fake; they were sent by a lobbying firm hired by a trade group representing coal producers and power companies. Government ethics and transparency watchdog organizations responded, saying that using forged letters as part of a lobbying campaign is outrageous misconduct that harms the legislative process and highlights the need for increased disclosure.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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