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March 13, 2020 | Talking Points Memo

Max Moran

Op-Ed

Revolving Door

Trump’s Failing Coronavirus Response is Standard Issue Republicanism in 2020

“He’s got a certain talent for this,” President Donald Trump said of Vice President Mike Pence when entrusting him with the response to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. Pence’s perpetual grimace is the new face of the U.S. response to the coronavirus, after a chaotic week when the White House health team’s internecine squabbles and revolving-door corruption got a bit too public for Trump’s comfort. GOP operatives are likely relieved that their “adult in the room” has taken over. After all, Pence may be a fundamentalist zealot, but he is at least an actual “normal” policy-maker.

February 27, 2020 | The American Prospect

Andrea Beaty Eleanor Eagan Max Moran

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionRevolving Door

The Trump Administration’s Contemptuous, Pro-Corporate Response to Coronavirus

The COVID-19 coronavirus is nearly a global pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control’s latest statement warns Americans “to prepare, in the expectation that this could be bad.” Amid a global crisis like this, the public needs true leadership from the president and his top aides, and a highly competent government deserving of the people’s trust, with the capacity to effectively respond to incoming threats.But this is the Trump administration. So instead, we are being asked to put our faith in inexperienced political cronies, servicing the needs of corporations rather than the public, and contemptuous of science, scientists, and the idea of expertise.

February 21, 2020 | The American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionCampaign Finance

The Top Lawyer Bankrolling Democrats

The insidious influence of the wealthy over our politics, as Alexander Sammon wrote last month, is perhaps the defining issue of the 2020 Democratic primary. It’s the reason we at the Revolving Door Project have been yammering on about bundlers—the wealthy and well-connected volunteer fundraisers who almost inevitably end up receiving or influencing key jobs across the executive branch. Bundlers have driven the facile premise of both Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg’s campaigns: “I can’t be bought by the rich, because I am one of the rich who buys.” This was initially Donald Trump’s pitch, too. And the desire to reject the influence of bundlers raise hopes in Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s campaigns, largely driven by small dollars and people power.

January 31, 2020

Eleanor Eagan Max Moran

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionCampaign FinancePrivate EquityTech

Who Exactly Are Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg's Bundlers?

Eleanor Eagan | Max Moran

Beginning in the fall, the Revolving Door Project was one of a handful of voices drawing attention to Democratic primary candidates’ failure to release the names of their most important fundraisers. In op-eds, newsletters, and across other forums throughout the fall we repeatedly made the case that this consequential information could not stay hidden.

Why were we so insistent? A candidate’s list of top fundraisers, or bundlers, provides clearer insight than perhaps any other piece of campaign material into how a candidate would actually do the job of being president.

January 27, 2020 | InsideSources

Max Moran

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionCampaign Finance

The Issue Dividing Democratic Candidates Is Hidden in Plain Sight

Takes came in hot and heavy last weekend after the New York Times editorial board endorsed both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic presidential nomination, mercifully ending the paper’s self-aggrandizing pseudo-event widely compared to … that’s right … “The Apprentice.”

The Times split its endorsement due to the intra-Democratic cleave between what it termed a “radical” path represented by Warren and a “pragmatic” path represented by Klobuchar.

December 04, 2019 | The American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionAnti-MonopolyRevolving Door

Bloomberg News’ Curious Interpretation of Editorial Independence

Bloomberg News raised some eyebrows in the media world last week when reports leaked that it won’t investigate former New York mayor and Wall Street darling Michael Bloomberg as he (groan) runs for president. The news outlet also decided to refrain from investigating any other Democrats running, to maintain a level playing field, and added that the opinion page would publish no outside op-eds on the election as long as its owner remained a candidate.

October 23, 2019 | The American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

Tech

Moderate Democrats Back a Privacy Bill, Minus the Privacy

“We need to start thinking not just about ticky-tack privacy rules, but what’s the reason why companies invade our privacy? And one of those reasons is the behavioral advertising model … it’s often manipulative. So we have to think about how these businesses are incentivized and structured if we want to get to the root cause of massive surveillance in our economy today.”

So declared FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra at a hearing on online platforms and market power last week. Chopra, who’s earned a reputation as a crusader in his short term thus far, was opening the door to a far deeper conversation about Big Tech than one usually hears in Washington, even in the midst of the so-called “techlash.”

October 07, 2019 | The American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

Financial RegulationRevolving DoorTech

Freddie Mac Using Shady AI Company for Mortgage Loans

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage giant, is testing underwriting software from fintech firm ZestFinance. A creation of ex-Google executive Douglas Merrill, ZestFinance claims to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to spot trends in a borrower’s record that traditional lending models miss. This supposedly allows more credit to flow to borrowers who need and can afford it, allowing Freddie to issue more mortgages.

October 02, 2019 | The Daily Beast

Jeff Hauser Max Moran

Op-Ed

Congressional Oversight

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.

September 23, 2019

Max Moran

Blog Post

Congressional Oversight

Key House Democrats Are Giving Betsy DeVos A Free Ride

Max Moran
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

Jeff Hauser Max Moran

Op-Ed

Congressional Oversight

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 16, 2019

Max Moran

Blog PostFOIA Request

Revolving DoorTech

Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel's White House Connection

Max Moran
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

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.”