October 04, 2019
Revolving Door Project Joins Partners to Tell Trump: Rescind Executive Order Cutting Federal Advisory Committees
Today, the Revolving Door Project joined civil society partners to call on President Trump to rescind his Executive Order on Evaluating and Improving the Utility of Federal Advisory Committees. This recent Trump executive order calls for the elimination of one-third of existing Federal Advisory Committees (FAC) that are not statutorily mandated. The Order claims to offer a remedy for a problem — bloat in the FAC system — that does not exist. It does identify an actual problem for corporate America, though — more input from civil society can indeed dilute corporate influence in the workings of the executive branch. The order is, therefore, nothing more than the latest in this administration’s string of attacks on independent expertise and the public interest.
October 03, 2019
CEPR's Impeachment Briefing
When Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry of Trump last Tuesday, CEPR’s Revolving Door Project (RDP) was already ahead of the news. RDP’s director, Jeff Hauser answered when reporters asked if Democrats would seek impeachment after the whistleblower allegations. Last year, he warned of then-Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh’s proven willingness to rule “that the president is unreachable by the law while in office.”
October 03, 2019 | The American Prospect
The DNC’s Debate Gambit Prevents Donor Accountability
Late last week, the Democratic National Committee announced that it would hold only one October debate (on the 15th, rather than the 15th and 16th), packing the 12 qualifying candidates onto a single stage. As others have highlighted, the overcrowding will likely mean even less substance and more quibbling. There is, however, another important and overlooked consequence of the DNC’s decision: The single debate will slip in hours before the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) third-quarter fundraising filing deadline, delivering an undeserved blessing to candidates who don’t wish to answer questions about their unsavory fundraising ties.
October 02, 2019 | The Daily Beast
Don’t Stop With Donald Trump, Democrats: Impeach Attorney General Bill Barr
It’s beyond redundant to say that Donald Trump must be impeached over the Ukraine scandal. The so-called transcript of his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelevsky released last week — really a collection of notes — was already damning evidence of the president manipulating foreign policy for his personal political goals. Then the actual whistleblower complaint reconfirmed and solidified the case. Trump’s White House counsel, Donald McGahn, even wrote a memo cautioning him that using law enforcement powers to target a political adversary would be illegal and clearly impeachable.
But if Democrats are going to uncover more information through aggressive hearings and ultimately impeach the president, they need to recognize their most powerful adversary: Attorney General William Barr.
October 01, 2019
September Update on the State of Independent Federal Agencies
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 27, 2019 | Talking Points Memo
Now That The Impeachment Probe Is Official, House Dems Must Ramp Up Other Oversight
In soliciting election interference from Ukraine’s president, Trump did what had long seemed impossible; he committed an offense that even the most impeachment-phobic lawmakers couldn’t ignore. You don’t have to agree that this behavior is materially worse than other known misconduct — we certainly don’t — to celebrate that this particularly flagrant misstep sent the Democratic caucus over the edge. And since House Democrats are no longer paralyzed by a fear of falling into an unwanted impeachment inquiry, it is our hope that the Democratic caucus will finally begin to act like the opposition party it was elected to be.
September 24, 2019
With Impeachment (Slowly) Underway, Other Oversight is Still Needed
Impeachment proceedings are officially underway, meaning that the tedious debate over whether or not to open an inquiry is (at least, hypothetically) behind us. Following revelations last week that President Trump has taken Congress’ refusal to impeach as a blank check, it is even becoming plausible that the days of Nancy Pelosi’s ridiculous ongoing opposition to impeachment are numbered. This is not to say that the impeachment fight is over; questions about the substance and style of the inquiry remain. Democrats, however, have crossed a major milestone. With the majority of the caucus no longer tied up by whether to even open an impeachment inquiry, it is time they turn their attention to the other, related oversight they have neglected. Only then will they begin to resemble the opposition party voters thought they were propelling to power last fall.
September 23, 2019
Key House Democrats Are Giving Betsy DeVos A Free Ride
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Education and Labor Committee five months ago. She sat down, cleared her throat, and proceded to dodge basic yes-or-no questions about everything from transgender rights to literacy programs to arming teachers for several hours. Through her evasiveness, and the many issues Democrats wanted to bring up, there was barely any discussion of the trillion dollar student loan crisis, a calamity chaining down a whole generation’s opportunity, and which is now larger than both credit card and auto loan debt. Over $1.4 trillion of the $1.5 trillion debt is part of the federal government’s student loan portfolio, which the Education Department oversees.
September 23, 2019 | Common Dreams
Why Are House Democrats Afraid to Wield Their Subpoena Power?
Does the Democratic leadership even want to wield power?
It’s hard to tell. Nine months into their House majority, Democratic committee chairs don’t seem to realize they have any powers at all besides the occasional sarcastic clap.
To be clear, Democratic House leaders possess a major power that Republicans can do nothing to block, obstruct, or impede: the power to issue and enforce subpoenas.
September 19, 2019 | Washington Monthly
The Kitchen-Table Case for Impeaching Trump
After months of waiting, the House Judiciary Committee has finally voted to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. With that tedious “will-they-or-won’t-they” question out of the way, the logical next question is: can impeachment succeed? The answer is a resounding yes. But getting there will require a strategic reorientation away from a sluggish and legalistic examination of Trump’s offenses via recalcitrant witnesses and toward a broader consideration of how his systemic abuses of power have materially hurt regular people.
September 18, 2019 | The American Prospect
Surprisingly Good News at the Consumer Product Safety Commission
Despite the fact that this administration has generally shown nothing but contempt for the public interest, revelations earlier this year about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s failure to take action to protect the lives of infants and children still stood out. Last week, however, one of its members set herself apart for a different reason: Outgoing Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle appears to have been afflicted by a rare case of a conscience. In a highly unusual move, she voted for a Democratic commissioner to succeed her as acting chair.
September 16, 2019
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel's White House Connection
Washington is awash with proposals for a new regulatory agency centered on Silicon Valley. Often lost in that important conversation is the fact that the executive branch already has some positions with a direct focus on the technology sector, though they are limited in scope and scattered across the alphabet-soup of agencies. Perhaps no tech-focused bureaucrat has the president’s ear quite like the Chief Technology Officer. The CTO is the White House’s top advisor on anything to do with technology and innovation, tasked with explaining the latest developments and guiding the thinking of the most powerful politician on earth.
September 11, 2019
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
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
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.