On March 6, 2019, CfA, represented by American Oversight, filed two Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) seeking records regarding the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back Title X funding for comprehensive family planning services.
On February 27, 2019, CfA submitted a comment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) warning the agency about seemingly unbiased academic studies that have been bought and paid for by the payday lending industry and have been used to lobby against regulations to protect consumers from payday lending companies.
Lobbying Disclosure Act Complaint Against Community Financial Services Association and Lobbyist Joi Sheffield
On February 25, 2019, CfA released a new report, Academic for Hire, revealing that a lawyer for the payday lending industry, Hilary Miller, funded, designed, and edited an academic study defending the payday lending industry. In conjunction with the report, CfA also requested an investigation into whether the Community Financial Services Association of America, and one of its lobbyists, Joi Sheffield, violated the Lobbying Disclosure Act by failing to disclose lobbying contacts with officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Letter Calling for Investigation of Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s Relationship with Former Lobbying Client, Westlands Water District
On February 19, 2019, CfA called on ethics officials at the Interior Department and the Office of Government Ethics to investigate David Bernhardt, the Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior, and his relationship with his former lobbying client, Westlands Water District, an agricultural conglomerate in California. While at Interior, Mr. Bernhardt initiated a review of Endangered Species Act protections for two endangered species of fish in California, an issue he advocated for while working as a lobbyist for Westlands.
On January 30, 2019, CfA filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging Human Life International, Inc., a nonprofit anti-choice organization based in Front Royal, Virginia, failed to report lobbying expenditures and engaged in prohibited political activities in support of its anti-abortion advocacy efforts in the Philippines.
On January 14, 2019, CfA again called on North Carolina officials to investigate whether Tim Moore, Speaker of the North Carolina General Assembly, improperly used his position to seek preferential treatment from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) regarding a property owned by his company, Southeast Land Holdings, LLC. Additionally, CfA called for an investigation into whether DEQ officials acted appropriately when they issued a Conditional No Further Action letter to Speaker Moore’s company in September 2016.
On January 14, 2019, CfA called on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, as well as Attorney General Dana Nessel and Auditor General Doug Ringler, to investigate and terminate the state’s contract with Real Alternatives, an anti-abortion nonprofit organization that receives state funding to run the Michigan Parenting and Pregnancy Support Program. CfA’s investigation found that, despite receiving $2.6 million in Michigan taxpayer funds over the course of nearly five years, Real Alternatives appears to have both misused taxpayer dollars and failed to provide adequate health services.
On June 27, 2018, CfA called on the Office of Special Counsel to investigate whether Secretary Ryan Zinke violated the Hatch Act by wearing a pair of socks bearing the likeness of President Trump and his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”, while participating in the Western Governors’ Association’s annual meeting. On December 20, 2018, the Office of Special Counsel sent a letter to CfA concluding that Secretary Zinke "violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition against using his official position to influence an election."
On December 17, 2018, CfA asked the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”) and its former director, Scott Lloyd, for improperly obstructing a teenager’s access to reproductive healthcare and for providing her with religious counseling and materials – including Bible verses – while in ORR’s custody.
On October 25, 2018, CfA asked Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the appointment of Suzanne Israel Tufts, the Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to replace Department of Interior Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall amid ongoing investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s unethical behavior.