Non-profit

Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT)

Location:

Washington, DC

Tax ID:

46-4754874

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $450,000
Expenses: $489,227
Assets: $332,369

Type:

Watchdog Organization

Formation:

2012 1

References

  1. O’Harrow Jr., Robert; Boburg, Shawn; Davis, Aaron C. “Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million.” The Washington Post. November 21, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/conservative-nonprofit-with-obscure-roots-and-undisclosed-funders-paid-matthew-whitaker-12-million/2018/11/20/25ff987e-e9db-11e8-bd89-eecf3b178206_story.html
Executive Director:

Kendra Arnold

Budget (2022):

Revenues: $225,000

Expenses: $474,907

Assets: $82,462 1

References

  1. Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.causeiq.com/organizations/foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust,464754874/

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust is a right-leaning watchdog organization. 1 The organization launched in 2012 as the Free Market American Educational Foundation. 2

Former federal prosecutor Matthew Whitaker, who would later serve as Acting Attorney General in the Trump administration, became the first executive director of FACT in 2014, the same year the organization gained 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service. 3 In multiple years, DonorsTrust, a right-leaning provider of donor-advised funds, funded almost the entire budget of the organization. 4 5

The organization investigates mostly Democratic politicians, files public records requests, and files complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics, the IRS, and the Federal Election Commission (FEC). 6

Background

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust is a conservative-leaning watchdog organization that engages in ethics investigations. 7 FACT regularly files state and federal open records requests, Office of Congressional Ethics complaints, Internal Revenue Service complaints, Federal Election Commission complaints, and requests other investigations by state and federal agencies. 8

The organization launched in 2012 as the Free Market American Educational Foundation. It shared the same mailing address as Americans for Limited Government. 9

In July 2014, the Internal Revenue Service first approved the Free Market American Educational Foundation’s application for tax-exempt status. The application was signed by Raymond Wotring, who had the title of secretary. Wotring was an Americans for Limited Government staffer. 10

Six weeks after gaining tax-exempt status, the group changed its name to Working for Rights to Express and Communication. Then, in October 2014, the group again changed its name to the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, and named former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa Matthew Whitaker as the organization’s first executive director. 11

Whitaker was U.S. attorney from 2004 to 2009, appointed by President George W. Bush. He ran for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination from Iowa in 2014, and lost to eventual U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA). 12 From 2014 to 2016, Whitaker earned $1.2 million from FACT. 13 Whitaker left FACT in 2017 to become Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff. After Sessions resigned in late 2018, Whitaker become the acting attorney general until the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominee William Barr. 14

FACT lists its address on K Street just a couple of blocks from the White House. However, Kendra Arnold, the executive director, as well as Whitaker, the former executive director, reportedly worked at a Des Moines, Iowa law firm while leading the organization. 15 The law firm was previously known as Whitaker Hagenow & Gustoff LLP. 16 Today it is known as Hagenow Gustoff & Karas LLP. 17

Leadership

Kendra Arnold is the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Arnold joined the organization shortly after it was established in 2014 as the general counsel. 18 Arnold previously worked for the Des Moines, Iowa law firm of Hagenow Gustoff & Karas LLP. Before that, she clerked for Judge Gayle Nelson Vogel of the Iowa Court of Appeals. 19 FACT paid Arnold $225,000 in 2020 and again in 2021. 20 21

Neil Corkery is a treasurer and member of the board for FACT. 22 Corkery at one point was the treasurer of both FACT and the Judicial Crisis Network. 23 Corkery’s wife Ann Corkery was one of the founders the Judicial Crisis Network. 24

William Gustoff is the secretary and member of the board of directors for FACT. 25 He is a founding partner in the Des Moines law firm of Hagenow Gustoff & Karas LLP. 26

Finances

In 2022, DonorsTrust, a pass-through funding organization for right-leaning donors, contributed $225,000 to the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, which accounted for nearly all of the revenue for the organization that year. 27

DonorsTrust gave $600,000 to FACT in 2014, the first year it gained tax-exempt status. 28 DonorsTrust contributed $500,000 to FACT in 2015, and FACT reported receiving $500,191 that year. In 2016, DonorsTrust gave $1,350,000 to FACT, and FACT reported a total of $1,350,265 in revenue that year. 29

FACT paid $128,593 to the Washington, D.C.-area conservative public relations firm Creative Response Concepts, according to its 2021 report to the IRS. 30 It paid $130,000 to CRC in 2020. 31 In 2015 and 2016, FACT paid the Republican-aligned America Rising opposition research firm $324,150 for research. 32 The organization paid $104,000 to America Rising in 2020. 33

Investigations and Ethics Complaints

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust named the Office of Congressional Ethics the top ethics violator of 2023. FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold said the OCE’s “complete inaction in numerous cases of members abusing official taxpayer funded resources for political purposes functions as an endorsement of violating basic ethics rules—and it is simply not too much to ask for enforcement when violations openly appear in places as public as social media platforms.” Members FACT accused of misusing congressional resources for political purposes during 2023 included Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA). 34

FACT filed its first high profile complaint in February 2015 with the Federal Election Commission accusing the Democratic data firm Catalist, run by former Clinton White House chief of staff Harold Ickes, of running an “illegal coordination scheme” with party campaigns and labor unions. 35

The group filed a complaint in 2015 against Hillary Clinton with the Office of Government Ethics alleging the former Secretary of State “gave a private company special access to the State Department based upon the company’s relationships with Secretary Clinton’s family members and donors to the Clinton Foundation.” 36 In March 2016, FACT reported on the “Top 10 Most Ethically Challenged Hillary Emails.” 37

In 2017, FACT filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the Democratic National Committee alleging that DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa improperly sought intelligence against then-President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign from Ukraine officials. The complaint was based on reporting by Politico. Federal law prohibits soliciting or accepting contributions of things of value from a foreign national, including opposition research. 38

Although FACT’s complaints have overwhelmingly been against Democratic lawmakers, the organization has targeted the ethics of Republicans on several occasions. This includes filing a 2018 complaint against a political action committee aligned with Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), called Keeping America in Republican Control, for allegedly not properly reporting its fundraising to the Federal Election Commission. 39 In 2015, FACT asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), alleging that he improperly paid severance pay to his former chief of staff. 40 In 2015, FACT called on then-Rep. Robert Pittenger, (R-NC), to release the letter from the House Ethics Committee that he said approved the sale of a real estate business to his wife in 2013. 41

References

  1. Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.causeiq.com/organizations/foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust,464754874/
  2. O’Harrow Jr., Robert; Boburg, Shawn; Davis, Aaron C. “Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million.” The Washington Post. November 21, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/conservative-nonprofit-with-obscure-roots-and-undisclosed-funders-paid-matthew-whitaker-12-million/2018/11/20/25ff987e-e9db-11e8-bd89-eecf3b178206_story.html
  3. Mangan, Dan and Wang, Christine. “Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker got $1.2 million from nonprofit that won’t disclose its donors.” CNBC. November 21, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/21/acting-attorney-general-matthew-whitaker-got-1point2-million-from-non-profit.html
  4. Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.causeiq.com/organizations/foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust,464754874/
  5. Field, Hunter. “Dark-money group asks for IRS to investigate trust steered by central Arkansas congressional candidate.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. August 9, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/aug/09/dark-money-group-asks-for-irs-inquiry-i/
  6.  “About.” Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.factdc.org/about
  7. Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.causeiq.com/organizations/foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust,464754874/
  8. “About.” Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.factdc.org/about
  9. O’Harrow Jr., Robert; Boburg, Shawn; Davis, Aaron C. “Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million.” The Washington Post. November 21, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/conservative-nonprofit-with-obscure-roots-and-undisclosed-funders-paid-matthew-whitaker-12-million/2018/11/20/25ff987e-e9db-11e8-bd89-eecf3b178206_story.html
  10.  O’Harrow Jr., Robert; Boburg, Shawn; Davis, Aaron C. “Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million.” The Washington Post. November 21, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/conservative-nonprofit-with-obscure-roots-and-undisclosed-funders-paid-matthew-whitaker-12-million/2018/11/20/25ff987e-e9db-11e8-bd89-eecf3b178206_story.html
  11. O’Harrow Jr., Robert; Boburg, Shawn; Davis, Aaron C. “Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million.” The Washington Post. November 21, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/conservative-nonprofit-with-obscure-roots-and-undisclosed-funders-paid-matthew-whitaker-12-million/2018/11/20/25ff987e-e9db-11e8-bd89-eecf3b178206_story.html
  12. Associated Press. “New Acting Attorney General is GOP Loyalist From Iowa.” KTLA. November 7, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://ktla.com/news/nationworld/new-acting-attorney-general-is-gop-loyalist-from-iowa/
  13. Burke, Michael. “Whitaker received $1.2M from conservative nonprofit: report.” The Hill. November 20, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/417733-whitaker-received-12m-from-conservative-nonprofit-report/
  14. Mangan, Dan and Wang, Christine. “Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker got $1.2 million from nonprofit that won’t disclose its donors.” CNBC. November 21, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/21/acting-attorney-general-matthew-whitaker-got-1point2-million-from-non-profit.html
  15. Luppen, Luppe B. “How one accountant links Whitaker’s nonprofit to network of dark money groups.” Yahoo News. November 30, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/one-accountant-links-whitakers-nonprofit-network-dark-money-groups-224525365.html

  16. “Whitaker Hagenow & Gustoff LLP.” Bloomberg. Accessed January 14, 2024. https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/company/1268393D:US
  17. Hagenow Gustoff & Karas LLP. Accessed January 14, 2024. https://www.hgllplaw.com/.
  18. “About.” Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.factdc.org/about
  19. Kendra L. Mills Arnold. “Hagenow Gustoff & Karas.” Accessed January 13, 2024. https://archive.fo/XaD16
  20. 2021 Form 990 for Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 14, 2024. https://causeiq.s3.amazonaws.com/form990s/2022_11_EO/464754874_2022_11_EO_93493312048102.pdf?response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&response-content-disposition=filename%3Dform990-464754874-foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust-2021-12.pdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6QW4APNZUQPWEJQ&Signature=PKkEdhM7p4Kdfp0LquAE0IdfnPs%3D&Expires=1705281107
  21. 2020 Tax Form 990 for Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://causeiq.s3.amazonaws.com/form990s/2021_11_EO/464754874_2021_11_EO_93493319152891.pdf?response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&response-content-disposition=filename%3Dform990-464754874-foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust-2020-12.pdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6QW4APNZUQPWEJQ&Signature=8TkchksIwseO98qHkK1F037Eddw%3D&Expires=1705282480
  22. 2021 Tax Form 990 for Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://causeiq.s3.amazonaws.com/form990s/2022_11_EO/464754874_2022_11_EO_93493312048102.pdf?response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&response-content-disposition=filename%3Dform990-464754874-foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust-2021-12.pdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6QW4APNZUQPWEJQ&Signature=eEmXfCUeKI2SJAEraEWGBNKuNEk%3D&Expires=1705211936
  23. Novak, Viveca and Massoglia, Anna. “New nonprofit tied to stealthy circle of dark money groups.” Open Secrets. April 15, 2016. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2016/04/new-nonprofit-tied-to-stealthy-circle-of-dark-money-groups/
  24. Zeitlin, Matthew. “The New Acting Attorney General Was Previously a Dark Money–Funded Clinton Antagonist.” Slate. November 7, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/matt-whitaker-foundation-accountability-civic-trust-hillary-clinton.html
  25. 2021 Tax Ford 990 for Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. Tax Form 990 for Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://causeiq.s3.amazonaws.com/form990s/2022_11_EO/464754874_2022_11_EO_93493312048102.pdf?response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&response-content-disposition=filename%3Dform990-464754874-foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust-2021-12.pdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6QW4APNZUQPWEJQ&Signature=eEmXfCUeKI2SJAEraEWGBNKuNEk%3D&Expires=1705211936
  26.  William R. Gustoff. Hagenow & Gustoff. Accessed January 14, 2024. https://archive.fo/GvoyM
  27.  Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.causeiq.com/organizations/foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust,464754874/
  28. Zeitlin, Matthew. “The New Acting Attorney General Was Previously a Dark Money–Funded Clinton Antagonist.” Slate. November 7, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/matt-whitaker-foundation-accountability-civic-trust-hillary-clinton.html
  29. Field, Hunter. “Dark-money group asks for IRS to investigate trust steered by central Arkansas congressional candidate.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. August 9, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/aug/09/dark-money-group-asks-for-irs-inquiry-i/
  30. 2021 Form 990 for Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 14, 2024. https://causeiq.s3.amazonaws.com/form990s/2022_11_EO/464754874_2022_11_EO_93493312048102.pdf?response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&response-content-disposition=filename%3Dform990-464754874-foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust-2021-12.pdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6QW4APNZUQPWEJQ&Signature=PKkEdhM7p4Kdfp0LquAE0IdfnPs%3D&Expires=1705281107
  31. 2020 Tax Form 990 for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 14, 2024. https://causeiq.s3.amazonaws.com/form990s/2021_11_EO/464754874_2021_11_EO_93493319152891.pdf?response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&response-content-disposition=filename%3Dform990-464754874-foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust-2020-12.pdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6QW4APNZUQPWEJQ&Signature=8TkchksIwseO98qHkK1F037Eddw%3D&Expires=1705282480
  32. [1] Luppen, Luppe B. “How one accountant links Whitaker’s nonprofit to network of dark money groups.” Yahoo News. November 30, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024.  https://www.yahoo.com/news/one-accountant-links-whitakers-nonprofit-network-dark-money-groups-224525365.html
  33. 2020 Tax Form 990 for the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Cause IQ. Accessed January 14, 2024. https://causeiq.s3.amazonaws.com/form990s/2021_11_EO/464754874_2021_11_EO_93493319152891.pdf?response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&response-content-disposition=filename%3Dform990-464754874-foundation-for-accountability-and-civic-trust-2020-12.pdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6QW4APNZUQPWEJQ&Signature=8TkchksIwseO98qHkK1F037Eddw%3D&Expires=1705282480
  34.  Phippen, Thomas. “’Complete inaction’: Congressional ethics violators of 2023 have yet to be held accountable, watchdog says.” Fox News. January 1, 2024. Accessed January 14, 2024. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/congressional-ethics-violators-2023-have-yet-held-accountable-watchdog-says
  35. Bronstein, Scott. “Whitaker ran conservative group funded by dark money.” CNN. November 11, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/09/politics/matthew-whitaker-dark-money/index.html
  36. Bronstein, Scott. “Whitaker ran conservative group funded by dark money.” CNN. November 11, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/09/politics/matthew-whitaker-dark-money/index.html
  37. Tapscott, Mark. “Hillary, Aides Must Choose: Tell Email Truth Or Risk Jail By Lying.” Daily Caller. March 30, 2016. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://dailycaller.com/2016/03/30/hillary-aides-must-choose-tell-email-truth-or-risk-jail-by-lying/
  38. Easley, Jonathan. “Watchdog files complaint alleging DNC worked with Ukraine.” The Hill. August 9, 2017. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/345892-watchdog-files-fec-complaint-of-dnc-work-with-ukraine/
  39. Wilson, Drew. “Ethics group files complaint against pro-Rick Scott PAC.” Florida Politics. July 26, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://floridapolitics.com/archives/269895-ethics-group-rick-scott-pac/
  40. Palmer, Anna and Sherman, Jake. “Conservative watchdog wants Meadows investigated.”

    Politico. September 28, 2015. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/mark-meadows-investigation-sought-office-congressional-ethics-214143

  41. Rothacker, Rick and Ordonez, Franco. “Watchdog group calls on Pittenger to release ethics committee letter” Charlotte Observer. August 27, 2015. Accessed January 13, 2024. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article32571645.html
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 2014

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Dec Form 990 $450,000 $489,227 $332,369 $0 N $450,000 $0 $0 $0
    2020 Dec Form 990 $550,500 $501,279 $371,596 $0 N $550,500 $0 $0 $0
    2019 Dec Form 990 $600,000 $481,824 $322,375 $0 N $600,000 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $600,000 $473,626 $204,199 $0 N $600,000 $0 $0 $30,000 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,002,250 $1,085,316 $77,825 $0 N $1,002,250 $0 $0 $532,000 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,350,265 $1,403,267 $160,891 $0 N $1,350,265 $0 $0 $432,000 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $500,191 $795,325 $213,893 $0 N $500,191 $0 $0 $289,500 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $600,000 $90,973 $509,027 $0 N $600,000 $0 $0 $63,000

    Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT)

    1717 K St NW Ste 900
    Washington, DC 20006