Non-profit

Americans for Public Trust

Location:

Alexandria, VA

Tax ID:

84-4413894

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Executive Director:

Caitlin Sutherland

Americans for Public Trust is a right-of-center watchdog group that was formed in early 2020 and is operated by Caitlin Sutherland, former research director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The majority of the organization’s public-facing work since its founding has focused on filing ethics complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regarding alleged misuse of campaign funds or potential violations of campaign finance law against Democratic members of Congress, Democratic candidates, and left-leaning donors. [1]

In addition to being led by Sutherland, the organization employs former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) as outside legal counsel. [2]

Background

Americans for Public Trust was founded in January 2020 by Caitlin Sutherland, who previously worked as the research director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The organization’s mailing address is a UPS store in Alexandria, Virginia. As of early 2021, there are no publicly available tax records for the organization. [3]

Activity

In February 2020, Americans for Public Trust filed ethics complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics against three Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee over alleged campaign finance and coordination violations. The organization filed complaints against U.S. Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA) for allegedly using funds from her previous campaign for lieutenant governor in her congressional race and accused U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) of violating House rules by asking for contributions through a C-SPAN video showing a committee hearing discussing Rep. Jayapal’s proposed legislation. [4]

Americans for Public Trust made a third complaint against U.S. Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) for allegedly coordinating campaign funds with her previous employer, Everytown for Gun Safety, where she worked as national spokesperson until early April 2018. The complaint alleges that from Rep. McBath’s campaign’s start in March 2018 to her leaving Everytown in late April, Rep. McBath appeared on CNN as both a congressional candidate and a spokesperson for Everytown and was receiving campaign contributions from Everytown during the same period. [5]

Adam Laxalt, the outside counsel for Americans for Public Trust and former Attorney General of Nevada, pointed out that the group was particularly focused on the three members of Congress because they served on the House Judiciary Committee, which has oversight over the Department of Justice (DOJ). In response to the complaint, the FEC commented that it was able to receive complaints but unable to investigate because it was operating without a quorum of four commissioners at the time. [6]

Americans for Public Trust filed another FEC complaint against Expensify and its CEO David Barrett after Barrett sent an email to Expensify’s 10 million customers urging them to vote for President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Americans for Public Trust stated the email was not reported as an independent expenditure in support of Biden’s campaign, in violation of election reporting requirements. [7]

The organization also filed FEC complaints against Courier Newsroom for running news articles that appeared to be political advertisements supporting Democratic congressional candidates, which Americans for Public Trust alleged were illegal because the group didn’t register as a political entity. [8] Americans for Public Trust also filed a complaint against North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham (D) to call for an investigation as to whether he used campaign funds to fund an extramarital affair that was revealed during the campaign. [9]

In February 2021, the group joined a $2 million joint grassroots and media campaign with the Judicial Crisis Network and Heritage Action for America to explore “dark money” group ties to two of President Biden’s senior nominees: Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Xavier Becerra and Associate Attorney General nominee Vanita Gupta. [10]

References

  1. “News.” Americans for Public Trust. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://americansforpublictrust.org/news/ ^
  2. “About.” Americans for Public Trust. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://americansforpublictrust.org/about/ ^
  3. “Americans for Public Trust.” IRS Search. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/detailsPage?ein=844413894&name=Americans%20for%20Public%20Trust&city=Alexandria&state=VA&countryAbbr=US&dba=&type=CHARITIES,%20DETERMINATIONLETTERS&orgTags=CHARITIES&orgTags=DETERMINATIONLETTERS ^
  4. Muñoz, Gabriella. “Three Democrats on House Judiciary Committee hit with ethics complaints from watchdog group.” The Washington Times. February 13, 2020. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/feb/13/three-democrats-house-judiciary-committee-hit-ethi/ ^
  5. Muñoz, Gabriella. “Three Democrats on House Judiciary Committee hit with ethics complaints from watchdog group.” The Washington Times. February 13, 2020. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/feb/13/three-democrats-house-judiciary-committee-hit-ethi/ ^
  6. Muñoz, Gabriella. “Three Democrats on House Judiciary Committee hit with ethics complaints from watchdog group.” The Washington Times. February 13, 2020. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/feb/13/three-democrats-house-judiciary-committee-hit-ethi/ ^
  7. “APT Files FEC Complaint Against Expensify.” Americans for Public Trust. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://americansforpublictrust.org/news/apt-files-fec-complaint-against-expensify/ ^
  8. “APT Files FEC Complaint Against Expensify.” Americans for Public Trust. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://americansforpublictrust.org/news/apt-files-fec-complaint-against-expensify/ ^
  9. “FEC Complain Filed Against Cal Cunningham.” Americans for Public Trust. Accessed February 25, 2021. https://americansforpublictrust.org/news/fec-complaint-filed-against-cal-cunningham/ ^
  10. Kaminsky, Gabe. “Conservative Groups Launch $2 Million-Plus Campaign Targeting Senior Biden Appointees’ Dark Money Ties. The Federalist. February 19, 2021. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/19/conservative-groups-launch-2-million-plus-campaign-targeting-senior-biden-appointees-dark-money-ties/ ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2020

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    Americans for Public Trust

    107 S WEST ST STE 442
    Alexandria, VA 22314-2824