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December 07, 2021

Eleanor Eagan

Press Release

Department of JusticeTech

Watchdog Requests Correspondence Concerning Senior DOJ Officials’ Recusals

Today, the Revolving Door Project issued Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records reflecting any ethics advice given to any Senate-confirmed Department of Justice (DOJ) officials. The Project also requested any ethics advice given to Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General Anita Singh, whose husband is a member of Google’s antitrust defense team at law firm Vinson & Elkins. The Project is interested in which potential conflicts of interest do or don’t trigger ethics concerns within the Department, particularly as Big Tech companies engage in a cynical and specious campaign to use ethics rules to tie the hands of antitrust enforcers.  

December 03, 2021

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Ethics in GovernmentGovernment CapacityRevolving Door

Active Revolving Door Between Government and Contracting Industry Could Threaten Reform

Officially speaking, the federal government employs just shy of 3.6 million people (2.2 in the civilian workforce and 1.4 in the military). In reality, however, the number of people whose paychecks originate with the federal government (through grants or service contracts) is much larger — around 12 million according to recent estimates. This workforce, and the contracts that sustain it, rarely get much attention in public discourse. Yet, the federal government’s power to set standards and direct funds through contracting is not an insignificant one. President Biden has begun to tap into those powers with directives to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for federal contractors and institute a vaccine mandate for those same workers. These are strong first steps but they only scratch the surface of what is possible and what is needed to address the many problems that plague federal contracting. Fully harnessing that power, however, will likely require confronting a deep-seated problem: an active revolving door between the offices charged with granting and monitoring federal contracts and the companies that receive them. 

December 02, 2021

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

ClimateFinancial RegulationIndependent Agencies

Climate Finance Capacity Project: Commodity Futures Trading Commission

The Biden Administration was elected to office with an urgent mandate to change our current trajectory towards catastrophic climate change. Climate-focused financial regulation, or the regulation of markets to accurately account for climate risk and the social and material costs of climate-damaging activities, must be a part of this coordinated federal response in order to meaningfully address climate concerns at the governmental level. An agency that is particularly key to this goal is the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC is one of the smallest federal financial regulatory bodies and yet it is responsible for regulating one of the country’s largest markets, derivatives. While it was originally founded to regulate futures trading in commodities, the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 expanded the CFTC’s mandate to include swaps markets and broadened the agency’s role in regulating other derivatives, in part due to their extreme volatility and outsized role in the 2008 financial crisis. 

November 30, 2021

Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionClimateEthics in GovernmentExecutive Branch

Fossil Fuel Loyalist Mitch Landrieu Is Biden's Pick To Manage $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

President Biden signed the elusive bipartisan infrastructure bill into law on November 15th. It’s just the first part of a planned two-part infrastructure push, the other being the Democrat-only Build Back Better Act which Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have slashed to pieces. Yet Biden keeps calling the bipartisan bill he signed a climate bill. 

November 22, 2021

Press Release

2020 Election/TransitionClimateEthics in GovernmentFederal ReserveFinancial Regulation

RELEASE: Revolving Door Project Criticizes Biden For Choosing To Own Ethics Scandals And Deregulation By Renominating Powell

“We are extremely disappointed to see Biden renominate Jerome Powell as Chair of the Federal Reserve Board. Biden’s endorsement of Powell’s deregulatory agenda will greatly harm American families. Biden has an ambitious and urgent agenda on climate, financial stability, and addressing racial and economic inequality. Powell as Chair of the Federal Reserve will make it more difficult for Biden to ultimately be a successful president. Today is a win for the conventional wisdom and Establishment and a defeat for the planet and Joe Biden’s ultimate legacy.”

November 18, 2021 | The American Prospect

Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent AgenciesRevolving Door

How Biden Can Protect Students From Predatory For-Profit Colleges

The Biden administration inherited a morass of understaffed and undermined federal agencies, weakened by the Trump administration. It makes sense that building back the government’s capacity would be an uphill battle for the Biden administration, with so many years of policymaking undermined by his predecessor. What doesn’t make sense is the jarring number of cases in which the administration is going out of its way, at considerable cost, to uphold Trump-era policies that go against Biden’s stated agenda and the public interest.

November 17, 2021

Eleanor Eagan

Newsletter

ClimateDepartment of JusticeExecutive BranchFederal ReserveIndependent AgenciesTreasury Department

After Infrastructure Week

Congressional selfies and self-congratulations inaugurated the week, but a lot of hard work remains to translate the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) policies into real-life results. Given that those policies are (generously) middling and that the most promising ones are underfunded, turning these into winning programs will demand energy, creativity, competence, and a strong commitment to the public interest.

November 10, 2021

Dorothy Slater Hannah Story Brown

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionClimateIndependent Agencies

A Fossil Fuel-Aligned Investment Executive Is Biden's Final Nominee to Manage Federal Retirement Funds

Harvard President Larry Bacow announced mid-afternoon on September 9th that the Ivy League university — whose 53.2 billion endowment exceeds the GDP of over 100 countries — would officially end its investments in fossil fuels. That announcement set off a domino reaction of divestment announcements from Dartmouth, the California State University system, Boston University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Toronto, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Netherlands’ largest pension fund, and hundreds of other groups. They appear to see the writing on the wall that fossil fuel investments, beyond being morally egregious, are also no longer profitable.