Federal Accountability

Holding Federal Officials Accountable.

Government officials sacrificing the best interest of the public for personal gain or profit is nothing new. CfA investigates corruption throughout the federal government, from Congress to the federal agencies. CfA exposes those who have betrayed the public’s trust to advance their own ends.


CfA has pursued accountability in both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

Legislative Branch

CfA has investigated numerous members of Congress and congressional officials.

For instance, CfA filed three ethics complaints against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). In January 2018, CfA asked the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate whether Rep. Nunes or HPSCI staff, acting at his direction, violated House ethics rules by leaking confidential information during the course of the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In March 2018, CfA renewed its request following a report in the New York Times that the committee leaked text messages between Senator Mark Warner and a Washington lawyer. Furthermore, in July 2018, CfA filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Nunes for apparently lying about his investments in several California companies.

Additionally, in June 2018, we filed an ethics complaint against U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) for failing to disclose PAC payments to his wife. CfA previously filed an FEC complaint against Sen. Crapo for failing to disclose any payments for the use of a lobbyist’s Capitol Hill condo for fundraising activities. Sen. Crapo amended his reports in response to CfA’s complaints.

In May 2018, CfA asked the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether two senators and 12 representatives violated congressional rules and criminal law by accepting campaign contributions from the payday lending industry shortly before or after taking official actions in support of the industry’s priorities. In October 2015, CfA filed a similar ethics complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against 11 representatives alleging collusion with the payday lending industry.

In March 2018, CfA called on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) to refer Blackwater founder Erik Prince to the U.S. Department of Justice for a criminal investigation into whether Prince provided false testimony to Congress regarding his meeting with Russian fund manager Kirill Dmitriev. In April 2019, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Chairman of the HPSCI, decided to refer Prince to the Department of Justice for investigation.

In May 2017, we filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) after he targeted the political activities of a Lakeland Bank employee in New Jersey.  Rep. Frelinghuysen announced his retirement from Congress in January 2018.

In January 2017, we filed a complaint against House staffers who potentially broke federal laws and House rules by surreptitiously working on President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order.

In 2015 and 2016, we filed complaints against United States Senator Bob Corker alleging he concealed information about his stake in several Tennessee hedge funds managed by his campaign donors.  Subsequently, the FBI and SEC opened investigations into Sen. Corker.

Executive Branch

CfA has also pursued accountability throughout the federal executive branch.

U.S. Department of the Interior

CfA has been working to hold U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and his department accountable. When Mr. Bernhardt was first nominated for the Interior Secretary position, CfA called attention to Mr. Bernhardt’s ethics problems. Moreover, CfA has called for investigations of Mr. Bernhardt’s relationship with his former lobbying client, Westlands Water District, and the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has confirmed it is reviewing the matter. Also, in June 2019, CfA also joined a coalition of watchdog groups in calling for an investigation of the Interior Department’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Awareness Process, and the Office of Inspector General has confirmed it is investigating the practice.

Additionally, CfA worked to hold former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke accountable. In June 2018, CfA asked the Office of Special Counsel to investigate whether Secretary Zinke violated the Hatch Act by tweeting a picture of himself wearing “Make America Great Again” socks while participating in the Western Governors’ Association’s annual meeting. On December 20, 2018, the Office of Special Counsel announced it had determined that Secretary Zinke indeed violated the Hatch Act. Furthermore, in September 2017, CfA called on the Office of Special Counsel and the Interior Department Inspector General to investigate whether Secretary Zinke violated conflict of interest laws and the Hatch Act by speaking at a team dinner for the NHL Vegas Golden Knights as part of his official duties. In October 2017, CfA also asked the Office of Government Ethics to investigate whether Zinke violated ethics rules that prohibit federal employees from endorsing private entities.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

In August 2018, CfA called for an investigation into U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s relationship with his former employer, the pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company, following a proposed rule change that would benefit Eli Lilly. Additionally, CfA has worked to hold the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services accountable through our reproductive rights work.

Environmental Protection Agency

CfA called for an investigation of Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler for multiple apparent lobbying disclosure violations. In response to CfA’s complaint, Wheeler’s former lobbying firm had to file amended lobbying forms.

U.S. Department of Transportation

In February 2018, CfA asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether Heath Hall, former Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, violated federal criminal law by willfully filing a public financial disclosure report in which he falsely claimed he would not be receiving outside income.

In September 2016, we called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to improve its ethics enforcement program after our Google Transparency Project (now the Tech Transparency Project) revealed that top NHTSA officials were in frequent contact with Google executives while working on federal guidelines for self-driving cars.

Continue reading about our Federal Accountability work below.

Campaign for Accountability investigates corruption throughout the federal government, whether it occurs in Congress or federal agencies.

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U.S. Department of Labor

Additionally, in February 2017, we filed a motion in the 21st Circuit Court in St. Louis County, Missouri to unseal the divorce records of Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor. Press reports suggested that Puzder’s divorce records contained allegations of domestic abuse, but these records were sealed following Trump’s nomination of Puzder. CfA successfully worked to unseal the divorce records, and Mr. Puzder withdrew himself from consideration shortly thereafter.

U.S. Department of Justice

In June 2019, CfA called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to open a criminal investigation into A. Mark Neuman, a former transition official at the Department of Commerce, and John Gore, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at DOJ, for having potentially committed perjury by lying about their efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

In 2016, CfA sued the Department of Justice to force the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to release its opinions that constitute a secret body of law. CfA has continued to fight for the disclosure of OLC opinions.

U.S. Department of the Treasury

In January 2017, CfA called on the Department of Justice and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to investigate OneWest bank for using potentially illegal tactics to foreclose on as many as 80,000 California homes. Before becoming Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin was the CEO of OneWest. In August 2017, CfA asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether Mnuchin made criminal false statements by lying to Congress about conduct by OneWest when Sec. Mnuchin was the bank’s CEO.

The Presidency & The White House

In July 2017, CfA filed a bar complaint against Trump Counsel Marc Kasowitz, alleging that he may have violated District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct.

In December 2016, we joined with Free Speech for People in calling on the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether the Russian government, which paid hackers to aid Donald Trump’s campaign, illegally influenced the presidential election.

In September 2016, we also pressed Donald Trump on the veracity of his financial disclosure forms and called on the Department of Justice to investigate.

Anti-Choice Movement

Finally, CfA is also working to hold the anti-choice movement accountable at the federal level. Please see our Themis Project page for more information.

Click here to read more about our work to advance reproductive rights.

CfA continues to advocate for open, ethical, and accountable government at the federal level. Click below to learn more about our latest efforts.

Next Priority

Reproductive Rights

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