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October 31, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Congressional OversightDepartment of Homeland SecurityDepartment of JusticeEthics in Government

A Crisis Of (Un)Accountability: Amidst Profound Political Cruelty, Ethics Matter More Than Ever

The news was flooded in September with images, reports, and increasingly abhorrent context for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ trafficking of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard as a political stunt. DeSantis’ actions, and those of his aides, are of course potentially illegal, as was asserted by a Texas sheriff who opened a criminal investigation into the spectacle. This latest sadistic political posturing came at the cost of real people fleeing real persecution, but there is also a crucial piece of this awful puzzle that hasn’t been fully explored. Why did Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents, funded by federal dollars, allegedly forge documents for migrants knowing (even if the migrants themselves didn’t) that their flights were not destined for the locales DHS agents made their immigration proceedings beholden to?

October 28, 2022

Hannah Story Brown

Newsletter

Ethics in GovernmentGovernment CapacityIndependent AgenciesRight-Wing Media

Hack Watch: Debunking the Big Budget Bogeyman

It seems pretty incontestable that a big part of the media’s job is “informing the public of things they need to know.” Accordingly, the media’s coverage of how the government spends money is a spectacular example of how it fails. Congress has enabled a vacuum of sensible, accessible information about the appropriations bills it’s supposed to pass each year to fund government activity, and the media has not stepped in to fill the void.

September 02, 2022 | The American Prospect

Timi Iwayemi Alex Moss

Op-Ed

Department of CommerceEthics in GovernmentIntellectual PropertyPatent and Trademark OfficeRevolving Door

Trump’s Patent Director Pressured Judges to Rule in His Law Firm’s Favor

There are numerous ways for the Biden administration to implement these safeguards. One option would be to issue a broad executive order that sets a path to restore public trust in the Patent Office. This order would require that the USPTO create a publicly available record of intervention in appeal proceedings by staff other than APJs, and outline new ethics practices that would ensure key USPTO staff recuse themselves from matters involving prior clients or former employers, and refrain from representing clients or working for companies whose cases they decide for at least three years.

August 25, 2022 | Democracy Journal

Eleanor Eagan Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeEthics in GovernmentFinancial RegulationIndependent Agencies

Enforcement: The Untapped Resource

Chronic underfunding means that the agencies with the most laudable missions—the ones seeking to protect ordinary Americans from profit-driven exploitation—often struggle to go up against powerful corporate interests. Strengthening funding for enforcement to protect Americans from environmental, health, consumer, and labor standards violations is an existing, easily justifiable tool for changing that balance of power.

August 19, 2022 | The American Prospect

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed

Congressional OversightEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchRevolving Door

Where Has Congress Been on Trump Holdovers?

The public hearings conducted by the House Select Committee have exceeded many Democrats’ expectations, not only as conversation-changing political theater, but also as a venue to uncover vital information. For example, the country now knows that Secret Service text messages from January 6th were deleted from phones shortly thereafter in what the agency has called a “planned migration.” This is what congressional oversight activities should do: extract truths from the halls of power and pursue public accountability accordingly.

August 19, 2022 | InsideSources

Max Moran Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive Branch

Open Letter to President Biden on Executive Gun Control Actions

Dear President Biden:

Since the horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, nationwide calls for stronger gun control have intensified. On May 30, you told reporters that popular legislative proposals like an assault weapons ban and stricter background checks are up to Congress, saying, “I can’t dictate this stuff.”

July 29, 2022 | The American Prospect

Hannah Story Brown Glenna Li

Op-Ed

Congressional OversightEthics in GovernmentIRSRevolving Door

It’s Past Time to Replace IRS Chief Charles Rettig

Earlier this month, The New York Times broke the story that former FBI director James Comey and his former deputy director Andrew McCabe, both loathed and eventually fired by President Trump, also both underwent rare and intensive tax audits under the National Research Program, which studies tax compliance and calculates the “tax gap” (the difference between legally owed tax and what is actually paid). Out of around 154 million annual tax returns, the National Research Program selected just 5,000 tax returns in 2017 and 8,000 in 2019 to audit. Neither man knew the other had undergone the same audit until a Times reporter told them.

July 18, 2022 | Politico Europe

Eleanor Eagan Jeff Hauser

Op-Ed

Ethics in Government

To withstand authoritarian threats, ethics standards must be stronger

Earlier this year, many breathed a sigh of relief, after France’s far-right opposition candidate Marine Le Pen’s bid for the country’s presidency went down in resounding defeat for the second time in five years.

That she was able to reprise her role as a second-round presidential candidate, however, let alone pick up close to enough votes, attests to a troubling fact: In France, and elsewhere, the threat from right-wing populist movements is mounting — not receding.

June 30, 2022

Hannah Story Brown

Press Release

ClimateCongressional OversightEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

RELEASE: Impact of Supreme Court’s EPA Decision Can Be Minimized Through Decisive Executive Counteractions

Today the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in West Virginia v. EPA, curbing the EPA’s authority to establish carbon emissions caps under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act. It is a significant blow, and is further evidence of how far this empowered, extremist Supreme Court will go to erode the functions of our government and contravene the public interest. But it is not a lethal blow. Many tools to stave off the climate crisis and facilitate an equitable energy transition remain available to the EPA, to the White House, and to Congress. 

June 28, 2022

Andrea Beaty

Press Release

Anti-MonopolyDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentFTC

RELEASE: New Report Finds Extensive Revolving Door To Corporate Interests Undermines Robust Anti-Monopoly Enforcement

The Revolving Door Project published a new white paper, “The Revolving Door In Federal Antitrust Enforcement,” which presents new evidence of the extent and impact of the revolving door at both the leadership and staff levels between the Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission and corporate-aligned entities.