The Campaign for Accountability (CfA) is an ostensibly nonpartisan left-wing advocacy organization founded to expose supposed misconduct and corruption in the government and private sector. CfA typically targets conservative government officials or organizations in its investigations and has two Democratic operatives serving on its board of directors.
CfA was formed by alumni of another left-wing “watchdog” organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Its board of directors includes two Democratic political consultants.
CfA has called for the investigations of dozens of conservative lawmakers and Cabinet secretaries including former Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. American Oversight, another left-of-center legal advocacy group, has represented CfA in litigation.
CfA was founded in May 2015 by two alumni of another left-of-center organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and supposedly works on behalf of the public interest by investigating alleged unethical behavior in government offices, corporate boardrooms, and other nonprofit organizations.
CfA’s recent projects include investigating and researching corruption allegations against members of Congress, presidential cabinet secretaries, state representatives, and political operatives—a majority of whom are Republican figures or Democrats who have supported pro-business initiatives. CfA also investigates businesses.
CfA has filed ethics complaints against a number of Republican lawmakers including, but not limited to, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), and former Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).
The Campaign for Accountability has also called on ethics officials on more than one occasion to open investigations into supposed lobbying disclosure violations by Republican Cabinet secretaries and agency heads. In August 2018, CfA called for an investigation into the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex Azar, after CfA argued that a pharmaceutical rebate rule change proposed by HHS could potentially benefit his former employer, Eli Lilly and Company. HSS responded by saying, “as required by the Ethics Pledge, [Sec. Azar] does not participate in any particular matters where his former employer is a party to the matter, or a party representative.”
In August 2018, CfA also demanded that Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler be investigated for allegedly violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act. CfA alleged that Wheeler inaccurately reported his role in meetings with the Department of the Interior about shrinking the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument as a lobbyist for Energy Fuels Resources while working for his former employer, Faegre Baker Daniels. Later, Faegre filed lobbying disclosure amendments stating that Wheeler and his team lobbied the Department of the Interior regarding national monument boundaries.
CfA called on the Office of Special Counsel in June 2018 to investigate whether Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated the Hatch Act by participating in the Western Governors’ Association’s annual meeting and tweeting a photograph of himself wearing “Make America Great Again” socks while present at the meeting. Earlier in 2017, CfA pressed the Deputy Inspector General to investigate Secretary Zinke’s speech before the Vegas Golden Knights, a National Hockey League team. CfA claimed that Zinke’s speech to the team, whose owner backed President Trump, violated the Hatch Act because he was allegedly performing a “political activity” while on duty.
On a state level, CfA has also tracked suspected unethical behavior performed by officials in Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.
In North Carolina, CfA alleged that the Speaker of the North Carolina General Assembly, Republican Tim Moore, received special treatment from officials at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) after violating pollution regulations on one of his properties. CfA claims that Moore’s fees for violating the regulations were waived and he was granted multiple deadline extensions to address pollution. CfA called upon the North Carolina State Ethics Commission to investigate while Moore responded by saying that the allegations were nothing more than an “a meritless election-year political ploy.”
In Texas, CfA conducted a six-month investigation targeting the Heidi Group, a pro-life nonprofit that was designated nearly $7 million in state funds to provide low income Texans with reproductive health care and family planning services by aiding the expansion of subcontractor services. CfA claimed that its investigation revealed mismanagement and neglect by the Heidi Group’s Executive Director and filed a complaint requesting an investigation into whether or not the group violated criminal law.
The GTP explores Google’s reach into academia and claims that it is “paying millions of dollars each year to academics and scholars who produce papers that support its business and policy goals.” The initiative also explores Google’s support for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. GTP explores Google’s role in supporting Clinton’s presidential bid and the potential benefits it could have exploited from “its extensive ties to her presidential campaign, her foundation, and the Clinton State Department.”
The Google Transparency Project is funded in part by Oracle, a competitor of Google. Ken Glueck, Senior Vice President of Oracle, confirmed in 2016, “‘Oracle is absolutely a contributor (one of many) to the Transparency Project.’”
Blackrock Transparency Project
CfA launched a similar campaign to the Google Transparency Project targeting asset manager Blackrock in June 2018. In a similar fashion to the Google Transparency Project, the Blackrock Transparency Project aims to track the political influence of the company. As of December 2018, its funders were not disclosed on the campaign’s website.
In October 2015, CfA filed an ethics complaint against 11 members of Congress following a report issued in September 2015 by Allied Progress, a project of the left-wing New Venture Fund, detailing how certain members of Congress received significant campaign contributions from payday lending executives and political action committees shortly before their congressional actions supported the industry. The complaint disproportionately targeted more Republican members than Democratic members.
In 2015, CfA was founded by two alumni of the David Brock-aligned advocacy group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Louis Mayberg, a Democratic Party donor, was the co-founder and former chairman of CREW prior to co-founding CfA. Anne Weismann another CfA co-founder, is a former CREW chief counsel. Weismann served as CfA’s Executive Director at the time of its founding  and later rejoined CREW as Chief Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Counsel.
Current Leaders and Executives
CfA executive director Daniel Stevens joined CfA in 2015. Much like CfA’s founders, Stevens formerly worked at CREW, where he was a researcher before joining CfA.
CfA’s general counsel, Alice Huling, previously worked for Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP. In this role, she took several pro bono reproductive rights cases that challenged pro-life legislation and policies. In these cases, she worked with left-of-center pro-abortion organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Robin Brand is a board member of CfA and the current president of RMB Strategies. Prior to RMB Strategies, she held a leadership position at Gill Action, the advocacy arm of the Gill Foundation – a left-leaning 501(c)(3) foundation created “to support public policy efforts that promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and economic opportunity in Colorado.”
Nick Hackworth is also a board member of CfA and is the president of M Street Solutions. He previously served as President Barack Obama’s Director of Strategic Research during his 2012 presidential re-election campaign.
In 2017, the CfA received $994,811 in contributions and grants. The organization incurred total expenses of $433,726 resulting in a fund balance of $528,024 at the end of the year.
In 2017, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees government worker union reported contributing $90,000 to CfA for “political activities.”