Talk:Cause of Action

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Cause of Action, formerly known as Freedom Through Justice Foundation, is a non-profit organization that according to its website uses "investigative, legal and communications tools to educate the public on how government transparency and accountability protects economic opportunity for American taxpayers."[1]Cause of Action's website states that the organization exists "because the Executive Branch’s discretionary power in spending our dollars, regulating our sources of livelihood, and making choices that shape our country must be limited"[2], and the organization "uses investigative tools to attack federal government waste, fraud, and mismanagement as well as overreach in the form of arbitrary and burdensome regulations" in order to limit the Executive Branch's discretionary power.[3]

The Executive Director, Dan Epstein, assisted in the investigations of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the National Mediation Board as Counsel for Oversight and Investigations at the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for the U.S. House of Representatives. [4]Epstein is an alumnus of the Koch Associates Program run at the time by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Institute and later by the Charles Koch Institute.[5][6]

The Freedom Through Justice Foundation was incorporated in July 2011 and applied for tax exempt status in August 2011, but it was not granted 501(c)(3) status until July 2012.[7][8] It started receiving funding in 2011,[9] started issuing press releases in at least October 2011,[10] and started to get press calling it "a government accountability nonprofit" in November 2011.[11]

Koch Connection

Cause of Action received $994,000 from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a national journalism organization earmarked "for journalism," in 2011.[12] The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[13] a conservative 501(c)(3) that promotes citizen engagement.[14] SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[15] which is partially funded by the Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[16] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[17]

Attack of the CDC's Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program

In 2013, Cause of Action published an investigative report accusing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's CPPW program of illegally spending public tax-dollars on lobbying.[18] CPPW is "a locally driven initiative supporting 50 communities to tackle obesity and tobacco use... two of the leading causes of preventable death and disability."[19]Cause of Action's investigation alleged that, "at least seven communities that received CPPW funds violated federal law, as well as CDC guidelines, by using taxpayer dollars to lobby for higher taxes and new local laws."[20] The accusation of illegally 'using public money to dispense grants that fund lobbying' addresses the CPPW's spending on lobbying for increased taxes on tobacco and high calorie products. Cause of Action's investigative report follows a March 2012 House and Energy Commerce Committee hearing in which HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended the lobbying efforts, "arguing that at the time the grants were made, the law permitted the use of federal tax dollars to lobby local governments and the ban on lobbying applied only at the federal level."[21] Since the time the grants were made, Congress has explicitly banned the use of federal taxpayer dollars for lobbying any level of government, and following that piece of legislation the CDC expanded its policy on lobbying, applying limits on lobbying for "proposed" legislation.[22]

Franklin Center Funding

In the 2011-2012 fiscal year Cause of Action reported $996,545 in revenue, &996,005 of which was generated from, "gifts, grants, contributions, and membership fees"[23]. As Cause of Action received $994,000 in funding from Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity in that period[24], Over 99% of Cause of Action's funding came from that organization in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

  1. Cause of Action, About, organizational website, accessed June 30, 2014.
  2. Cause of Action, About, organizational website, accessed June 30, 2014.
  3. Cause of Action, [http://causeofaction.org/assets/uploads/2013/04/Final-CPPW-Report.pdf CPPW: Putting Politics to Work: How the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Grant Program Became a Front for Lobbying, Government Propaganda, and Cronyism], 2013, accessed June 30, 2014.
  4. Cause of Action, Dan Epstein – Executive Director, organizational website, Accessed May 13, 2013.
  5. Emily Yehle, The most active nonprofit you've never heard of, E&E, November 14, 2012.
  6. Brooke Williams and Matt Pearce, Issa oversight committee staffs up with industry insiders, Center for Public Integrity, February 28, 2011.
  7. Freedom Through Justice Foundation, Form 1023, organizational IRS filing, August 5, 2011.
  8. Internal Revenue Service, Letter to Cause of Action granting tax exempt status, July 9, 2012.
  9. Franklin Center, 2011 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, November 12, 2012.
  10. Cause of Action, Press Releases, organizational website, accessed July 2013.
  11. NLRB FORMER CHAIRMAN AND GENERAL COUNSEL ENGAGE IN EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS, Washington Examiner, November 7, 2011.
  12. Franklin Center, 2011 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, November 12, 2012, accessed June 2014.
  13. Joe Strupp, Franklin Center Top Donor Is Right-Wing's "Dark Money ATM", Media Matters, February 22, 2013
  14. Eric-Okeefe.com, About Eric, accessed July 1, 2014
  15. Media Matters Action Network, Sam Adams Alliance, Conservative Transparency website, August 19, 2011.
  16. Media Matters Action Network. State Policy Network, Conservative Transparency website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  17. Media Matters Action Network, Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, Conservative Transparency website, accessed August 19, 2011.
  18. Cause of Action, [http://causeofaction.org/assets/uploads/2013/04/Final-CPPW-Report.pdf CPPW: Putting Politics to Work: How the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Grant Program Became a Front for Lobbying, Government Propaganda, and Cronyism], 2013, accessed June 30, 2014.
  19. Center for Disease Control, Communities Putting Prevention to Work, accessed June 30, 2014.
  20. Cause of Action, [http://causeofaction.org/assets/uploads/2013/04/Final-CPPW-Report.pdf CPPW: Putting Politics to Work: How the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Grant Program Became a Front for Lobbying, Government Propaganda, and Cronyism], 2013, accessed June 30, 2014.
  21. Jeff Stier, Oversight of CDC Grants is Necessary, "Roll Call", July 31, 2012, accessed June 30, 2014.
  22. Jeff Stier, Oversight of CDC Grants is Necessary, "Roll Call", July 31, 2012, accessed June 30, 2014.
  23. Guidestar.org, 2011-2012 990 Form, accessed June 30, 2014.
  24. Franklin Center, 2011 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, November 12, 2012.