Corporate Responsibility

Holding Corporate America Accountable.

As we learned from the 2008 financial crisis, decisions made in company boardrooms can upend the lives of millions of Americans.

CfA exposes some of the worst corporate offenders, including Wall Street investors who attempt to influence Washington regulators for personal financial gain; corporations who conceal political spending from shareholders; chief executive officers who receive unmerited, astronomical compensation; and predatory lenders who work to undermine the regulatory efforts of government agencies.

Highlights

CfA works to hold powerful and well-connected corporations accountable for their actions. In August 2017, CfA filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to follow up on a Seattle Times/Center for Public Integrity investigation into predatory lending practices of Clayton Homes, one of the nation’s largest mobile home sellers.  In the wake of the expose, several members of Congress had requested that the CFPB investigate the matter and take action.  Now, Clayton is expanding into selling modifiable homes costing $250,000 or less. Clayton is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, which has been building the company into the mobile-home industry’s biggest manufacturer and lender. As the company expands its footprint to reach more Americans, it is imperative to know whether the government found any wrongdoing and, if so, what actions were taken.

In January 2017, we called on federal authorities to investigate OneWest Bank for using potentially illegal tactics to foreclose on as many as 80,000 California homes.  Steve Mnuchin, who was nominated and later confirmed for the position of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, previously served as the CEO of OneWest.

Shortly after Donald Trump was elected President, CfA asked the Obama administration to publicly release information regarding security for Trump Organization properties around the world. CfA sought to ensure that the Trump Organization was acting ethically while providing for the safety of guests and visitors worldwide.

Continue reading about our Corporate Responsibility work below.

 


Campaign for Accountability works to hold powerful and well-connected corporations accountable for their actions.

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In the fall of 2016, CfA launched an investigation into solar companies that exploit vulnerable consumers.  Previously, in August, two consumer watchdogs had warned government regulators about the exploitative contracts used by solar companies.  Following these warnings, CfA asked state Attorneys General for copies of consumer complaints about solar panels.  A review of the complaints revealed a widespread pattern of apparent fraud and abuse by solar companies.  CfA called on several states to open investigations into solar companies and protect consumers from these deceptive tactics.

In December 2017, CfA released a report highlighting the findings of its year-long investigation into the unscrupulous sales practices of the rooftop solar industry. CfA’s investigation found consumers filed more complaints against SolarCity and Vivint Solar than any other company.

In April 2016, CfA launched the Google Transparency Project (“GTP”), a comprehensive research initiative to help the public track the company’s influence on our government, policies and everyday lives. The GTP assembles materials cataloging Google’s influence in a single place and makes it searchable by any user. Notably, the GTP website was an Interactive Media Awards Winner in 2016, winning the Best in Class Award in the Association Category.

Highlights from the GTP include our report detailing How Google Makes Millions Off of Fake News, our analysis of Google’s Support for Hillary Clinton, our interactive feature exploring Google’s White House Meetings, and our report Google’s Silicon Tower, which detailed the influence of Google-funded academics and experts at academic and government conferences. In July 2017, CfA further explored the relationship between Google and academia in Google Academics, Inc. CfA identified 329 research papers published between 2005 and 2017 on public policy matters of interest to Google that were in some way funded by the company.

In September 2018, CfA successfully posed as a Russian troll farm and ran politically divisive ads on Google’s platforms, targeting U.S. audiences. U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) subsequently cited CfA’s research on Capitol Hill.

In June 2018, CfA launched the BlackRock Transparency Project to track the political influence of the world’s largest asset manager. Highlights from the BlackRock Transparency Project include our reports on BlackRock’s “Access and Influence” Business Model, BlackRock’s leaky “Chinese Wall”, BlackRock’s role in the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and BlackRock’s questionable infrastructure deals in Mexico. We’ve also tracked the revolving door between BlackRock and key government agencies.

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