Ethics in Government

April 06, 2022

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post Ethics in GovernmentFederal Reserve

Congress Should Heed the Lessons from the Federal Reserve's Ethics Scandals

After a stream of stories throughout the pandemic revealed seemingly rampant congressional insider trading, laughable disclosure practices, and nonexistent enforcement, Congress appears finally to be feeling the pressure to clean up its act. In recent weeks, lawmakers have introduced a flurry of new bills to limit conflicts of interest and help restore public trust in our governing institutions.

As they begin to forge a piece of consensus legislation, they should consider that members of Congress were not the only political leaders to violate public trust throughout the pandemic period. The trading scandals within the Federal Reserve system, for example, revealed material ethical deficiencies that have yet to be satisfactorily addressed. It’s important to recognize that these deficiencies are not unique to the Federal Reserve and that they represent an ongoing threat to public trust in other powerful corners of the executive branch as well. To rebuild that trust in government, lawmakers must learn the lessons of the Federal Reserve scandals and develop fixes for these deficiencies there and elsewhere.

March 31, 2022

Letter Anti-MonopolyEthics in Government

Letter to the Center for Judicial Ethics on Big Tech Creating Expert Conflicts of Interest

We are a diverse coalition of advocacy organizations with a strong interest in the fair and neutral application of the law by courts. We write to express our concern about the growing problem of bias and conflicts of interest that arise from Big Tech funding the careers of the legal experts that judges draw on to understand the law and support their decisions. We ask that the Center for Judicial Ethics assist judges to avoid citing to experts and academics with obvious conflicts of interest as they adjudicate the many cases regarding the Big Tech platforms. We further ask that you encourage judges to require comprehensive disclosure by experts hired by Big Tech platforms.

March 30, 2022 | Revolving Door Project Newsletter

Eleanor Eagan Hannah Story Brown

Newsletter

Corporate CrackdownDe-TrumpificationEthics in GovernmentIndependent Agencies

Build Back Cheaper, and Other Failures of the Centrist Imagination

Across the Biden administration, officials have promised (long overdue) accountability for corporate criminals. But talk is cheap. We at the Revolving Door Project are eager to see serious action to back it up. Our latest analysis, released yesterday, shows the administration is falling short of its ambitious rhetoric. We found that it “pursued at least 24 prosecutions and rulemakings to crack down on white-collar crime this winter, but took no action against at least 48 crimes or abuses.” You can read more about those cases in our brand new tracker. Our team will add updates regularly and share a biweekly news round-up with newsletter subscribers.

March 28, 2022

Mekedas Belayneh

Blog Post Anti-MonopolyDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchTech

The DOJ Should Follow Its Own Guidance on FOIA Administration

The celebration of Sunshine Week earlier this month underscored the importance of the continued effort to ensure effective administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and its central role for open democracy. Passed by Congress in 1966, FOIA allows citizens to request unpublished records and information from the federal government. Watchdog organizations have long relied on records obtained from FOIA requests to hold the government accountable to public interests. But, the system comes with a plethora of flaws that prevents adequate timeliness and transparency. Endless backlogs, increased usage of exemptions, partially redacted documents, and outright denials leave much to be desired in the administration of FOIA today.

March 15, 2022 | The American Prospect

Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed ClimateCorporate CrackdownDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

Where the Government’s Environmental Lawyers Stand

Joe Biden pledged that as president he would hold polluters accountable. But in 2021, the number of criminal cases against polluters referred to the Justice Department dropped even lower than the year before. At best, DOJ officials have set their sights on bringing environmental crime enforcement back up to Obama-era levels—but not exceeding them. That’s a decidedly muted goal; environmental crimes enforcement was higher under George W. Bush than Obama, and has always been underfunded.

February 11, 2022

Hannah Story Brown

Letter EducationEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

Coalition Letter to Education Secretary Cardona: Withdraw All Oppositions to Student Debt Discharge in Bankruptcy Court

Dear Secretary Cardona:

We are writing today to thank the Department of Education for committing to reform its practices on opposing and appealing student loan discharges in bankruptcy court. Our organizations call on the Department to immediately withdraw oppositions to individuals seeking undue hardship discharges in bankruptcy proceedings while these reforms are being implemented.

February 11, 2022

Hannah Story Brown

Press Release EducationEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

Advocacy Organizations Ask Education Department to Stop Opposing Student Debtors in Bankruptcy Court

A coalition of 17 advocacy organizations called on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to immediately withdraw his department’s opposition to student borrowers seeking to discharge their debt in bankruptcy court while the Department reviews its bankruptcy policies in a letter on Thursday. The letter can be read here. 

February 01, 2022

Letter Anti-MonopolyEthics in GovernmentTech

Coalition Calls On Secretary Raimondo to Release Calendars

We write to express our concern about your refusal to release your calendars and its implications for public trust in your department and this administration. As a public servant, the American people have a right to know who you meet with, when you meet with them, and what you discuss. In the absence of proactive disclosure, and with other routes to obtaining this information subject to extensive delays, the public is being left in the dark about who may be influencing the country’s trade and economic policy, and how. This is all the more alarming in light of your recent comments that favored Big Tech and contradicted Biden administration policy. We ask that you immediately address this grave threat to public trust by releasing your calendars, retroactively and at regular intervals moving forward. 

January 31, 2022 | The American Prospect

Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed 2020 Election/TransitionDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive Branch

Garland Has Yet to De-Trumpify His Office of Legal Counsel

One former employee of the Office of Legal Counsel, upon quitting her job during the Trump presidency, described the OLC’s work to The Washington Post succinctly: “using the law to legitimize lies.” Three years later, and a year after Trump left office, most of those legitimized lies remain intact.

January 24, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post ClimateEthics in GovernmentInteriorRevolving Door

Revolver Spotlight: Tommy Beaudreau Is Big Oil’s Back Door to Biden’s Interior

President Biden nominated Tommy Beaudreau to be his Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior last April, and he was confirmed to the position by June. Unfortunately, though Biden seeks to be seen as a climate champion, Beaudreau was, and is, a uniquely terrible choice to help helm a climate-focused administration. His revolving door record is extensive, his conflicts of interest are nearly unprecedented, and his (re)installment at the highest circles of the Department of the Interior was ultimately a win for oil and gas conglomerates.