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September 11, 2019

Max Moran

Blog Post

Independent AgenciesRevolving DoorTech

Google’s Settlement With The FTC Shows A Culture Of Corruption Thriving

The FTC’s pittance of a settlement with Google over serious violations of children’s privacy laws came and went through the news cycle with little more than a shrug from the public last month. That’s understandable; folks following Silicon Valley’s relationship with Washington right now are singularly focused on the concurrent state and federal-level antitrust inquiries into the biggest four tech companies, Google included. Moreover, as I wrote in the American Prospect yesterday, Google shields itself particularly well from prying progressive eyes, thanks to a combination of think tank donations, overtures to Democratic elites, and just offering highly functional products whose creepy surveillance downsides are little understood by consumers. But this is the Revolving Door Project, so we couldn’t let a corporate giveaway go by without looking at the personnel behind it. And as the aphorism, sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, goes: “history never repeats itself, but it often rhymes.” 

September 11, 2019 | The Daily Beast

Jeff Hauser

Op-Ed

Congressional Oversight

Trump’s Going to Manipulate the Government to Stay in Power

The power of an incumbent president to aid re-election by abusing the executive branch has in the past been limited by a few powerful forces: Presidential integrity; the fear of a scandal emerging in the media; and the prospect of aggressive congressional oversight.

Due to forces outside their control, the Democratic nominee won’t be saved by the first two “norms based” options. And as a result of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy of not “focusing on Trump,” the president has every reason to scoff at the prospect of aggressive congressional oversight, up to and including a genuine “go big” effort at impeachment.

September 10, 2019 | The American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

Tech

Google Is Like Facebook — But a Lot Smarter

Big Tech is facing an overdue crisis, but not all Big Tech companies are created equal. It’s useful to compare and contrast two of the biggest players at the center of these investigations: Facebook and Google.

Both have received constant negative press for the last few years, ranging from the stories on the Cambridge Analytica bombshell to Google’s non-stop internal chaos. Both received slaps on the wrist from the Federal Trade Commission, but both are now facing federal and state-level antitrust investigations.

Yet only one has become a full-blown bad guy to the Democratic party.

September 05, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Independent Agencies

August Update on the State of Independent Federal Agencies

Eleanor Eagan
The federal government’s forty independent federal agencies receive too little attention relative to their importance to our collective safety and prosperity. The Revolving Door Project has worked through multiple channels to shed light on these overlooked agencies and the threats that they face. We hope public education will generate pressure to safeguard the independence of these agencies and ensure that they are staffed with advocates for the public interest rather than corporate insiders. 

September 05, 2019

Max Moran

Blog Post

Independent AgenciesTech

Facebook Dodges Regulation With Wall Street’s Tactics — Confuse And Blame The Public

Max Moran
Facebook fulfilled an old promise last month in the most Facebook way possible: by sounding nice on paper and glossing over the details. Their new privacy tools are a laughably inefficient and insufficient set of measures, because fundamentally, they’re not trying to actually solve the stated problem: Facebook’s surveillance-based business model. It’s more proof that forcing individuals to protect themselves from the abuses of giant corporations is a cruel fantasy. This collective problem will require a collective solution. It’s about time regulators stepped in to do something about it. 

August 29, 2019 | The Daily Beast

Jeff Hauser Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionIndependent Agencies

2020 Dems Must Use Trump’s Incompetence Against Him

We tend to forget this as we watch the daily madness of the Trump presidency, but a president’s principal role is to run the executive branch. Above all, that consists of appointing personnel to thousands of roles across the administration and laying out a vision that inspires and drives that army of appointees towards common ends.

Thus, when Donald Trump assails Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (his own pick) as incompetent and/or malevolent in executing his critical role in helping manage the United States economy, he is unquestionably attacking his own judgment and fitness for office.

August 16, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Independent AgenciesRevolving Door

SEC Chief Accountant's Trip(s) through the Revolving Door are Emblematic of a Broader Problem

Eleanor Eagan
In May, Wesley Bricker, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Chief Accountant, announced that he was stepping down. Early last month, we learned where he had landed: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the “Big Four” auditors, as Vice Chair and Assurance Leader for the US and Mexico. With this move, Bricker has completed his fourth turn through the revolving door between PwC and the SEC. Although seemingly remarkable, his career trajectory is emblematic of the nearly nonexistent lines between regulators and those they are tasked with regulating. As this example makes clear, reforming agencies like the SEC so that they work for the public good will not just be a matter of choosing good commissioners, but of changing the culture and expectations for personnel throughout all echelons of these entities. 

August 01, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Independent Agencies

July Update on the State of Independent Federal Agencies

Eleanor Eagan
The federal government’s forty independent federal agencies receive too little attention relative to their importance to our collective safety and prosperity. The Revolving Door Project has worked through multiple channels to shed light on these overlooked agencies and the threats that they face. We hope public education will generate pressure to safeguard the independence of these agencies and ensure that they are staffed with advocates for the public interest rather than corporate insiders. 

July 30, 2019 | BuzzFeed News

Jeff Hauser Eleanor Eagan Max Moran

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionCampaign FinanceRevolving DoorTech

Mayor Pete Is Silicon Valley's Hottest New Startup

You might think Big Tech is facing an existential reckoning in Washington, based on recent congressional hearings with Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google. Add in Facebook’s $5 billion Federal Trade Commission settlement and the Trump administration pursuing antitrust inquiries into Big Tech while “looking into” Peter Thiel’s accusation that Google has been treasonously collaborating with China and it begins to sound consequential.

But if you look elsewhere — to the fundraising totals released by presidential candidates this month, and perhaps even to this week’s presidential debates — you can glimpse the seeds of the industry’s political revival.

July 28, 2019 | The Daily Beast

Jeff Hauser Max Moran

Op-Ed

Independent AgenciesRevolving DoorTech

Facebook and Equifax Scammed Customers — and Revolving-Door Corporate Lawyers Made Sure They Got Off Easy

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission made clear that dishonestly undermining Americans’ privacy can remain a part of a successful corporation’s business plan. The commission closed its investigations into the two most prominent corporate data breaches in recent memory. The Equifax hack and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal investigations have yielded back-to-back out-of-court settlements that are all bark, no bite.

July 22, 2019 | The American Prospect

Jeff Hauser

Op-Ed

Independent Agencies

The SEC Remains a Secondary Concern to Chuck Schumer

Already furious that Democrats aren’t standing up for themselves and the people who depend on them? Then … this article isn’t for you. Because we’re going to tell you about a seemingly inside baseball—but in fact quite consequential—way in which Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to be out-hustled by both Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

July 22, 2019

Max Moran

Blog PostFOIA Request

Anti-MonopolyRevolving DoorTech

Revolving Door Project Requests Info On Big Tech Regulators

Max Moran
The Revolving Door Project’s mission is to scrutinize the nexus of corporate power and the executive branch. In the United States, two agencies within the executive branch have the power to seek to break up a company: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division. That is why it is important that we research any entanglements undermining the FTC and DOJ Antitrust’s commitment to serving the public interest.

July 02, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Independent Agencies

June Update on the State of Independent Federal Agencies

Eleanor Eagan
The federal government’s forty independent federal agencies receive too little attention relative to their importance to our collective safety and prosperity. The Revolving Door Project has worked through multiple channels to shed light on these overlooked agencies and the threats that they face. We hope public education will generate pressure to safeguard the independence of these agencies and ensure that they are staffed with advocates for the public interest rather than corporate insiders. 

June 26, 2019

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

2020 Election/Transition

How Well Do Leading 2020 Candidates Understand the Executive Branch?

Eleanor Eagan
It is one of the many peculiarities of American politics that legislative laundry lists dominate presidential campaigns even though presidents have little power to get these promises enacted. That is not to say that these aspirational assertions do not matter. As a statement of values, they can mobilize support.  But while legislation is subject to the considerable influence of, well, the legislature,how a candidate intends to do the job for which they are running (i.e. managing the executive branch) is something for which they can be held directly accountable. And yet candidates tend to be much less forthcoming with their vision for actually running the federal government. That silence reduces presidential accountability to the public for how they wield the powers of the executive. 

June 25, 2019 | The American Prospect

Jeff Hauser Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionCampaign Finance

Do Pete Buttigieg’s Donors Know Him Better Than We Do?

In a field of 24 candidates, Democratic presidential hopefuls must attempt to stand out from the crowd, and Pete Buttigieg is no different. He foregrounds his personal story, relative youth, and roots in the country’s geographic center to pitch voters on a generational departure. “Such a moment calls for hopeful and audacious voices from communities like ours,” Buttigieg said in his announcement speech. “And yes, it calls for a new generation of leadership.”