❮ Return to Our Work

Blog PostNewsletter | May 22, 2024

RDP Work Round-Up: Memorial Day Edition

Anti-MonopolyClimate and EnvironmentCryptocurrencyExecutive Branch

This newsletter was originally published on our Substack. Read and subscribe here.

As we head into Memorial Day Weekend, we’re taking some time to review recent work at Revolving Door Project—boosting pieces we want to make sure readers here see, and staying focused on priority areas for our team. Here’s hoping the extra time in your week gives you some space to go down a revolving rabbit hole (or two) with us, whether on the crypto industry’s continuing efforts to influence how they’re regulated, or on Scott Sheffield, the former fossil fuel CEO engaged in an oil price-fixing scheme. 

Our New Courts Oversight Website Is Live!

With our collaborators at Take Back the Court and True North Research, we recently launched our Supreme Transparency website, which hosts a running database “expos[ing] amicus brief filers’ ties to right-wing court-whisperers.” Building on ProPublica’s shocking revelation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ friendship with billionaire Harlan Crowe—and other conservative justices’ ties to wealthy right-wingers—our team found that “nearly one out of every seven amicus briefs [examined] was filed or joined by an organization with close ties to one of the right-wing powerbrokers we’re tracking. In several higher-profile cases, conservative groups connected to the justices’ benefactors make up an even higher percentage of briefs.”

The site will continue to be updated periodically, so check back for more. 

Meet the GOP Donor Colluding with OPEC & US Oil Producers to Constrain Supply and Drive Up Prices 

This month, the FTC exposed how Scott Sheffield, former CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, conspired with US oil companies and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to “keep oil output artificially low,” which led to higher gasoline prices and bigger profits for fossil fuel executives. As our Kenny Stancil reported, “Sheffield has personally spent more than $750,000 to shape energy policy in his favor at the federal and state levels,” based on our review of campaign finance data.

Despite this horrifying revelation—and our work with allies to convince them not to—FTC still approved ExxonMobil’s acquisition of Pioneer, highlighting the need for adequately resourced antitrust agencies. As FTC Chair Lina Khan acknowledged earlier this year, FTC’s resources are strained, preventing the agency from applying sufficient scrutiny to shady actors involved in corporate consolidation. 

Given that Sheffield embodies the corporate greed underlying recent cost-of-living struggles, we’re also pushing President Joe Biden to condemn him publicly and consistently. As our Jeff Hauser noted: “The Biden White House’s ongoing silence speaks volumes about what happens when corporate revolvers like Jeffrey Zients and Anita Dunn determine the daily message. We need Zients and Dunn to go against their past tendencies and seize this perfect opportunity to aggressively crack down on corporate villains who routinely exploit Americans.”

DOJ’s Sluggishness on White Collar Crime Isn’t Limited To Trump

As my colleague Andrea Beaty and I wrote for the Prospect last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco have not lived up to their stated goal of cracking down on white-collar crime. Instead, DOJ has continued to drag its feet on prosecuting corporate wrongdoing, with only slight increases over the historic low prosecutions of the Trump era and a continued reliance on leniency agreements, even when dealing with recidivist corporations who refuse to learn their lesson. While the painstakingly slow prosecution of Donald Trump is a high-profile and salient example heading into election season, the problem is more systemic than that. That’s why we echo the calls of our friends at Public Citizen to reverse the DOJ’s “tendency in recent years to avoid criminally charging the largest corporations.”

Yes, We’re Still Beating the Drum on Underfunding of Crucial Regulatory Agencies

FTC isn’t the only critical federal agency charged with protecting us from corporate excesses that’s being underfunded. As our Fatou Ndaiye recently wrote, the FDA, FEMA, EPA, and IRS also struggle without adequate staffing to fulfill their mandates, leaving Americans exposed to insufficient oversight of pharmaceutical companies, limited capacity to respond to fossil-fueled climate disasters, and continued rampant tax evasion by billionaires. 

FTX Is Gone, But Crypto’s Influence Remains

Our friends at The American Prospect reported on Tuesday that Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi may back a longtime crypto-industry priority this week, which would finally achieve Sam Bankman-Fried’s one-time goal of seeing the industry regulated by the weaker CFTC. This may surprise those who believed the industry’s priorities died alongside FTX, but it’s worth re-reading our Henry Burke’s piece from March on how crypto has redoubled its political pressure campaigns and how this time they’ve been flying under the radar. 

The Need for a Pro-Consumer Insurance Regulatory Agenda 

As Kenny and Jordan Haedtler, a climate financial policy consultant to the Sunrise Project and Climate Cabinet, explained in a recent report, insurance regulation is shaped to a significant degree by a conservative trade group called the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Outsourcing public policy-making power to an unaccountable private organization that exists outside the democratic process is proving disastrous as the worsening climate crisis upends insurance and housing markets across the United States. As Republicans pursue an industry-friendly agenda of bailouts and deregulation, Democrats must start providing a climate-sensible and pro-consumer alternative, as Jordan and Kenny wrote for the Prospect last month. 

Follow the Revolving Door Project’s work on whatever platform works for you! You can find us on that website formerly known as TwitterBlueskyInstagram, and Facebook

Want more? Check out some of the pieces that we have published or contributed research or thoughts to in the last week:

USA Today Helps Corporate Landlords Deflect Blame For Housing Crisis

Realtors Partied, Spent Big and Lobbied Hard. Then It All Came Crashing Down.

I Don’t Think Jonathan Chait Read the Book on ‘Solidarity’ He Reviewed

The Real Entitlement Crisis: Good Reporting Is in Short Supply

Anti-MonopolyClimate and EnvironmentCryptocurrencyExecutive Branch

More articles by Emma Marsano

❮ Return to Our Work