March 13, 2019 | The American Prospect
Richie Neal and Trump’s Taxes
As most House Democrats enthusiastically jump on the long-dormant congressional oversight train, one senior lawmaker has conspicuously chosen to stay on the platform. Under the leadership of Representative Richard Neal, the House Committee on Ways and Means has shown none of the zeal for oversight exhibited by its counterparts.
March 04, 2019
Revolving Door Project Reacts to Richard Neal's Announcement: Late and Weak
Don’t let the headline (“House Democrats prepare case to request Trump tax returns”) fool you: Richard Neal’s announcement of a plan to issue a request letter for Trump’s tax returns comes distressingly late — and projects to be vastly too modest in scope. Revolving Door Project, which has helped lead the way in spotlighting Neal’s shirking the need for serious Congressional oversight, notes the following problems with the request as reported by NBC News.
March 01, 2019
NY State Lawmakers Show How We Can Advance Reform in Face of Federal Gridlock
As federal policymakers shrink away from their campaign promises to request President Trump’s tax returns, state lawmakers are stepping up to take their place. On January 24, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill that would bar presidential and vice-presidential candidates from appearing on the ballot unless they released five years of federal tax returns. Meanwhile, there is growing momentum in New York for the TRUTH ACT, a bill which would require state tax authorities to release tax returns for any officials elected statewide, from State Comptroller and Attorney General up the ranks through to the President of the United States. That bill now has 78 cosponsors in the NY State Assembly (a majority) and 28 in the State Senate (four shy of a majority). If passed, New York state tax authorities will be required to release Trump’s tax records within 30 days. Those records would not just include income earned in New York state but worldwide income as well.
February 26, 2019 | The American Prospect
BlackRock’s ‘Greenwashing’ Threatens to Undermine Climate Action
Fake environmentalism is an especially rampant and worrisome form of corporate propaganda—indeed, there is even a specific term for it. Scientific American defined the “essence” of “greenwashing” as efforts “falsely conveying to consumers that a given product, service, company or institution factors environmental responsibility into its offerings and/or operations.” If you want an idea of how empty these promises tend to be, consider that Donald Trump once signed a “Business Leaders” letter in The New York Times urging then-President Obama to aggressively push for climate action at the 2009 Copenhagen talks.
February 25, 2019
Comment by Jeff Hauser to FTC on Proposed Consent Agreement in the Matter of Staples/Essendant, Inc.
The proposed merger between Staples and Essendant has been the target of a great deal of deserving criticism. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) decision and proposed consent agreement do not fully take into account the significant potential direct and indirect anti-competitive effects of this merger.
February 24, 2019 | Al Jazeera
Americans Should Fear Trump Apathy
Figuring out what is and is not an emergency in Donald Trump’s America is far from straightforward.
On February 15, in order to get funds to build a wall along the southern border of the United States, Trump declared a “national emergency”. And he did this even though the situation at the border is in no meaningful sense getting worse, let alone deteriorating rapidly enough to constitute an “emergency”. In fact, border crossings are actually declining, and as commentators across the ideological spectrum noted, Trump’s own words make clear that there is no “national emergency.”
February 21, 2019
NYT’s Whitewash of Revolving Door Figure, Robert Khuzami
In this widely read article on President Trump and the Justice Department, the New York Times characterized the Deputy US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Robert Khuzami, in an entirely inaccurate manner. Not only was the characterization factually wrong, meriting a correction on its own, but it also gives readers unwarranted confidence in Khuzami’s independence. Indeed, Khuzami’s actual professional history merits serious scrutiny from the Times. The February 19, 2019 article stated that, “The inquiry is run by Robert Khuzami, a career prosecutor who took over after Mr. Berman, whom Mr. Trump appointed, recused himself because of a routine conflict of interest.” (emphasis added)The phrase “career prosecutor” conveys to a reader that Khuzami was a nonpolitical appointment who had spent the vast majority of his career in nonpolitical public service jobs prosecuting alleged criminals. Neither meaning is close to accurate, and the distance from truth actually elides the reason why Khuzami’s central role ought to stoke fear rather than generate calm.
February 14, 2019
Letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Treasury Inspectors General
Dear Inspector General Wertheimer and Inspector General Thorson:
We write to request an investigation into whether officials at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) or Office of the Comptroller of the Currency leaked information about the agency’s plans regarding reform to the Government Sponsored Entities (GSEs) with intent to manipulate markets for the benefit of investors in preferred and common shares. Sharing this confidential, market-moving information with the intent of benefiting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s shareholders would represent a breach of securities law.
February 09, 2019 | The Daily Beast
‘Middle Class Joe’ Biden Courts Wall Street Oligarch, BlackRock’s Larry Fink
Ever since Donald Trump secured the presidency in 2016, there have been those who have argued that Joe Biden is the Democrats’ only chance at victory in 2020. Why? He plays well with working- and middle-class voters who might otherwise vote for Trump. While many question the merits of this assessment, it appears that at least one important figure has embraced this interpretation: “Middle Class Joe” Biden (his nickname, he assures us).
January 31, 2019
Oversight of Congressional Oversight: Assessing the House Ways and Means Committee
This post was last updated on September 27, 2019 Last fall, Democrats ran and won on an anti-corruption platform. The Revolving Door Project (RDP) is committed to ensuring that members of the new majority fulfill their promises to bring accountability to Trump, his powerful allies, and corporate bad actors. Oversight is an incredibly powerful tool that can shine a light on overlooked issues, unearth answers about clandestine misbehavior, and generate consensus around reforms.
January 29, 2019
How the Trump Team Might Make Some Hedge Funds Solvent Again
Eleanor Eagan and Jeff Hauser
Immediately following President Trump’s election, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s future generated renewed and robust interest. The Government Sponsored Entities’ (GSE) shares rallied on expectations that the Trump administration would take both entities out of conservatorship in a manner that rewarded all shareholders, including hedge-fund speculators. In the intervening two years, however, those expectations faded and shares in the GSEs underwent a slow decline.
January 28, 2019
Richard Neal Doth Protest Too Much
Jeff Hauser and Eleanor Eagan
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) has been criticized by many, including us, for his failure to pursue Trump’s tax returns in a timely manner. In an article in the Berkshire Eagle with the friendly title, “Neal lays groundwork on push for Trump tax returns,” Neal gave his constituents his side of the story.
Below, we annotate Neal’s claims.
January 25, 2019 | The Hill
Feckless Chairman Neal Allows Trump Team to Avoid Testifying
The executive branch has been overrun by individuals who have consistently consequences. It is, therefore, unsurprising that last week, two Treasury Department officials declined to make themselves available to speak with the House Committee on Ways and Means.
January 16, 2019
One Trump Appointee, Two Jobs, Too Many Causes for Concern
Eleanor Eagan, Jeff Hauser, and Adewale Maye
You have likely not heard of Joseph Otting, as he has generated comparatively little attention amidst the circus that is President Trump’s executive branch. However, he is a deeply problematic official who has quietly amassed power in critical agencies that receive far too little attention given their impact on the economy and housing. Amazingly, Otting seems to be using these agencies to act upon resentments he developed as a “controversial,” at best, banking executive, making him a perfect representative of why we are concerned by the revolving door problem in our federal government.
January 16, 2019
The Oversight Options Available to the House Ways & Means Committee
Eleanor Eagan and Jeff Hauser
As we wrote at the American Prospect in January, Neal should have requested Trump’s tax returns right away and after that easy part of the committee’s job was over, proceeded to more complex oversight. (alas, Neal has not yet taken our advice)
This oversight should be undertaken with the goal of not only educating the public about problems but also starting a conversation within civil society and among potential future presidents about ways new laws and better executive branch appointees can begin to fix what ails us as a society.
Given Neal’s difficulty taking the initiative, we have decided to provide his Committee with a proposed draft agenda. We hope that Neal takes note, reverses course and charges ahead on oversight.